Suppose there is a national election and two candidates are running in your district, candidate A and candidate B. The issues they are discussing include national security, health care, immigration, education and the environment.

Candidate A advocates surgical bombing strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites, a larger role for private health care, the return of all illegal immigrants to their own countries and aspirational targets to control gas emissions.

Candidate B advocates the return of all troops from Iraq,, hard targets on gas emissions, a way for illegal immigrants to gain their citizenship and universal health care.

The two candidates also differ on the difficult subject of abortion. Candidate A is pro-life, believes every abortion is murder and would only support anti-abortion nominees for the bench.

Candidate B does not personally believe in abortion. He would support every social measure such as raising the minimum wage and low cost housing to reduce abortions, he never speaks of abortion unless asked but in the last analysis, he supports a woman’s right to choose.

What should a Catholic do who disagrees with candidate A on every major issue and agrees with candidate B on most issues? Where does a Catholic obtain guidance in this dilemma?

I would suggest a conscientious Catholic should read a document put out by the American Catholic bishops at their meeting this month in Baltimore. The document is meant as a guide for American Catholics in the up-coming presidential elections. But it is equally helpful for Canadian Catholics. In the section on abortion there is the following sentence:

« In some cases, if a Catholic who fully accepts fundamental principles such as the right to life were to vote for a candidate despite the candidate’s opposing position but because of other proportionate reasons, their vote would be considered ‘remote material cooperation’ and can be permitted only if there are indeed proportionate reasons. »

In the situation I outlined above, I consider their are indeed proportionate reasons to vote for candidate B.

Therefore I would do so with a clear conscience.

Would you?



  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    It’s interesting that the Bishops are bringing the debate re: cooperation and McCormick’s (and others’) response of proportionalism into the election arena. However, proportionalism is just as convincing here as in the realm of more typical moral dilemmas so yes, I would vote for candidate B. There are problems with proportionalism, however, and if I hadn’t just worked the night shift, I would get into them. But, even if I did, I don’t think even the problems would convince me to vote for candidate A in this case.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Hair splitting has never been my specialty. When a position is clearly untainable I do not defend it. I guess only Catholic integrists would go for candidate A despite his other questionable stances just because they are against abortion. In my classical Greek grammar text book there was an example given: « duoin kakoin mikrotatoin deomai airesthai- of two evils the lesser one must be chosen ». In this case candidate B is the lesser evil.
    By the way that is the only Greek I know.

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    This caught my eye: « …their vote would be considered ‘remote material cooperation’ and can be permitted… »

    Excuse me? Can be permitted?

    No. This does not work. Not in a world with freedom of conscience and secret ballots, it doesn’t. There is no way any organization gets to un-permit a vote, so it is extremely condescending to suggest in any way that it can permit its members to vote in a particular way.

    Or am I reading that wrong? Neil, do you have a link to the document?

    On the whole, though, this scenario is one of the reasons I refuse to vote for any party candidate. I won’t vote for an omnibus set of « values. » And I don’t want someone whose mind is already made up. I want someone who will listen to me and take my concerns to the government. I don’t want an apologist for the way things have been screwed up on my behalf without my consent.

  4. 4


    Does not the teaching arm of the Catholic church (magisterium) have the right to give electoral guidelines to its OWN MEMBERS?

    Sorry, I don;t have a link. I took the quotation from the National Catholic Reporter out of Kansas City.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    Guidelines are one thing, Neil. Anyone can give guidlenes. They’re not binding on anyone, only suggestions based on existing parameters.

    Permission is another thing altogether. Permission involves the ability to enforce the action.

    Maybe it was simply a bad choice of words in the article. But anyone who writes an article intended for a readership in the millions should be well enough acquainted with the language that he can use it with better precision.

    Unless he already did. In which case, I stand by my first comment.

  6. 6
    SUZANNE Says:

    If you are a faithful Catholic, you consider that unborn children are equal human beings.

    Candidate A has some wrong-headed ideas, but he proposes to get rid of the greatest of all the evils: the state-sanctioned killing of human beings.

    Let’s re-ask the question, but instead of abortion, it’s a state-sanctioned Holocaust. Canddiate A wants to end the Holocaust in his own country. Candidate B does not.

    The obvious answer is to end the Holocaust. Because killing an innocent human being is a far greater injustice than bombing a nuclear site or returning illegal immigrants (which I don’t think is an injustice, but anyhow).

    A « proportionate » reason has to be something on the order of the Holocaust. Voting as if unborn human beings aren’t equals doesn’t count.

    The proper hierarchy of values is also necessary for evaluating one’s vote.

  7. 8

    The fact of the matter is, you are simply wrong. On the strength or the proportionality argument advanced by the bishops any Catholic can vote for candidate B with a perfectly clear conscience.

    Thanks for the link.

  8. 9
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil, you’ve invoked both the concept of « proportionality » and the U.S. example. Therefore, let me ask you the following: does the fact that since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, 40 million souls (more than the entire population of Canada) have been legally aborted in the U.S. sway you at all from your choice of candidate B?

  9. 10


    No, it doesn’t. Did the Church, which teaches these souls are persons, provide funerals for them? I think not. And what of the millions of miscarriages in the United States? Are not these natural abortions? Should these also be included in the number of aborts?

    On another subject, you had a good letter in this morning’s Gazette on the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

  10. 11
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    This discussion and your position, Neil, makes me think of both Jimmy Carter and Martin Sheen. Both are strong Democrats yet both have very strong pro-life stances. I suspect that they would also choose candidate B.

  11. 12

    Yes, a Catholic may, for many reasons. Here’s one:

    Just becuase a candidate would make abortion illegal does not mean that he or she would be the most effective in reducing or even eliminating abortions. It is perfectly conceivable to me that a public servant could desire to outlaw abortion, have the legal power to do so, or even succeed in outlawing abortion, and yet in the long term be detrimental to the pro-life cause.

    How so?

    One, he or she could be incompetent. Two, he or she could promote a cultural philosophy that leads to an increase in abortions. Three, he or she could establish an economic policy that sees abortions rise.

    A pro-choice candidate may be a better defender of the unborn than the pro-life candidate. It’s much more complicated than the Catholic Answers crowd would have us believe.

  12. 13
    SUZANNE Says:

    Okay. So a politician has the ability to stop the Holocaust. But we don’t want to vote for him becuase his philosophy would lead to more anti-semitism and killing of Jews.

    No, sorry, doesn’t work. In Canada, all a politician has to be competent enough to do is write a law and stand up for it at voting time. Besides, even if 10 politicians are incompetent, there are usually a bunch of others to shoulder the burden in a parliamentary democracy. They can be benchwarmers who can be useful for a vote.

    As far as Canada goes, even if the law is somewhat faulty, if it stops some abortions, it’s light years ahead of what we have.

    In Canada, it’s pretty cut and dried. You vote for the person who will stop legal abortion.

    These are all excuses for you not to stop abortion. Either you don’t want to do it, or you think it’s not sophisticated a tactic enough. Meanwhile, babies are being killed for our lack of pro-life politicians.

    Cardinal Arinze and Pope Benedict have been fairly clear: vote for pro-life candidates.

  13. 14

    Suzanne –

    Are politicians merely law crafting voting machines? Do they never give speeches promoting ideas to the public? Do they have no effect upon the course of the culture?

    To my mind, ending abortion requires far more than legal protections of the unborn, which, by the way, will persist only within a society informed by a culture of life. Politicians are not greatest influencers of culture, but I think they are among them, so yes, the philosophies they promote will affect or help establish a culture that will either work against or work for legal protections of the unborn. If you want laws to remain on the books and be enforced, then you have to have a culture which approves of such laws; otherwise, the legal protections will be fleeting.

    I could be wrong, but I find that the pro-life movement, in America at least, approaches the issue of abortion too much as a legal problem and at the expense of addressing the multiple causes of abortion. I agree that establishing legal protection for the unborn is a right thing to do, and is certainly faster than changing a whole culture. That said, pro-life laws do not make a pro-life culture, and unless there is a pro-life culture, pro-life laws will not be long for the world.

  14. 15
    Chimera Says:

    « …pro-life laws do not make a pro-life culture, and unless there is a pro-life culture, pro-life laws will not be long for the world. »

    What an interesting way of putting it, Kyle! Not to mention accurate. I’ve never seen anyone nail it quite as firmly as you just did.

    Suzanne’s problem is that she was raised in a « do what I tell you and don’t ask stupid questions » kind of culture. She naturally thinks that everyone else should live there, too. Stephen Harper lives there. The fact that almost nobody else lives there is an extreme irritant to both of them.

  15. 16
    Mike Says:

    Would I? No.

    Suzanne I agree, but would state Pope Benedict has been very (not fairly) clear and taken out of context on his « proportionate reasons » statement. He realizes this and has made clarifying statements for anyone confused and not wanting to stay that way.

    Pope Benedict:

    « As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today: the protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family — as a union between one man and one woman based on marriage…; and the protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.”

    Pope John Paul II:

    Christifideles Laici: “The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination”

  16. 17
    Mary McCurry Says:

    First – On the issue of what is ‘permisable’ as it applies to voting and the teaching of the Church: The Catholic Church derives her Authority from God. Magisterial teachings on faith as it is practiced include social and moral value. Such teachings are based upon natural law and Divine Revelation as given by God and His Son, Jesus Christ and via the Holy Spirit via Scripture and Tradition. The Divinity of Jesus as Christ the only Son of God, His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist and the authority of the Church in Divine Apostolic Succession are the very core beliefs that make Catholics Catholic and by which we base all the rest of the Church teachings. In a free Democratic society people are free to join, enter, practice their religion or not freely. That means that as a Catholic living in a free democracy I have the right to accept the moral teachings of my Church and to submit myself to that Church’s moral authority. Hence, when the word ‘permit’ was used in the above context it refers to what is permisable according to the Authority of the Magisterium and not enforcable by any civic authority. That is, the Church cannot filter anyone’s ballots nor bar anyone from voting, nor would she want to. She does have both the right and moral obligation to advise its freely chosen members as to when and how their souls may be in grave danger of sin. We are all free to not be Catholic. No one will arrest you. But as Catholic Christians we are under moral obligation to warn each other of impending danger to our eternal souls when our actions violate God’s Will. Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom ‘of’ not ‘from’ religion.

    Second- On the issue of proportionality. The principal of proportionality and the resultant ‘remote material cooperation’ does not really apply to this case. The protection of innocent human life ALWAYS trumps all other protections. So candidate A would get the vote and the faithful would get the task of ardently trying to either persuade A to change views on other issues or to work to find a better candidate for next election. For now we’ve got A. The principle of proportionality where Catholics would be free of sin for ‘remote material cooperation’ would apply if BOTH candidates held same pro-choice stand so that voting for either was voting for pro-abortion candidate. Since not voting is NOT a real option (again by religious not civic teaching) we would then have to consider the rest of the issues and implement the principles of proportionality. What Catholics today seem to lack is a clear understanding of both their faith and basic civil government (which BTW is historically rooted in Church Canon law:). As for faith, the proportionate weight given to issues of life, innocent life, and the treatment of the poor, the oppressed, etc must be understood clearly in order to make a morally sound choice at the polls. Why and how it is that some choices are clear and unequivocal and others leave room for individual interpretation and execution according to our well formed consciences. Anyone who has the ability to read these messages has the ability and responsibility to seek and understand the teachings of Christ’s Holy and Apostolic Church.

    Mary McCurry, grateful re-vert, ongoing sinner and most unworthy receipient of His Divine Graces.

  17. 18

    Mary McCurry:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment on Catholic teaching and proportionality.

    I would have been inclined emphasize more the absolute supremacy of conscience.

  18. 19
    Mary McCurry Says:

    One’s conscience is indeed of great importance. But of more importance is Christ and His Church. We should never force another to violate their true conscience reasoning. However, as Catholics who have freely embraced the Truth embodied in Christ’s Church we are responsible to conform our consciences with the her Teachings. To allow my own conscience to be formed solely out of my own efforts puts me at risk of falling prey to confusion of license with freedom, conscience with wishful thinking and places me as one individual in the precarious position setting aside several thousand years of cumulative wisdom of God’s faithful ministers in favor of my own. Given how many other things I have to do in life that is a scary thought ! 😉

    Getting back to this question of choice and principles of proportionality: again, Church teaching is clear: protection of innocent life ALWAYS trumps other concerns without relegating those other issues to the waste pile of unimportant. We are called as Catholic Christians to care for the poor, the disabled, the lonely and abandoned. We are called to treat one another including those of minority groups, the infirmed, the outcast, the alien (legal or otherwise) with respect and compassion as children of God. HOW we do that allows room for diverse viewpoints of which any or all may be valid according to our well formed Catholic Christian consciences. So in regard to the protection of INNOCENT LIFE, that is abortion and euthanasia there is NO CHOICE. These issues to NOT stand with the other issues on equal merit. Where there are two candidates with one pro-choice and one pro-life we MUST choose the pro-life candidate. Where both candidates are pro-choice then we can invoke the principle of proportionality on the other issues in order to select the lesser of two evils. Abortion and euthanasia are INTRINSICALLY EVIL and can NEVER be condoned. Your conscience may vary but the Church is solid. Thank the Good Lord!

  19. 20
    Mary McCurry Says:

    Sorry for all the typos in my last post and for my wordiness. Brevity was never my gift. I did a Google search and found this link which says much better than I what I am trying to say. It needs to be read in its entirety to be fully understood. Hope this helps. It cuts away the loopholes and allows clarity to shine thru.


  20. 21


    Thank you for your heart-felt comment about the importance of all life from conception to death.

    My understanding is that our conscience is supreme. Of course, it’s true that we must take into consideration the teachings of the magisterium in forming our conscience. But consider the teachings on the ordination of women. I have studied them carefully and I simply do not find the arguments persuasive. Am I supposed to do violence to my conscience and ignore my powers of reasoning? I don’t think so.

  21. 22
    Mary McCurry Says:


    What I am reading from you sounds very similar to the mindset of most Protestants who screen all religious doctrine through their own lens and when they don’t agree start a new Church!! Last count there were nearly 40 thousands different denominations and still forming! So they continue to break away and break down and regress on the road toward Divine Truth. The Catholic Church holds, in a very real and mystical way, the fullness of Truth as much as humans can know. The role of the Magisterium is not to conform its doctrines to agree with mine or yours or whatever has been made popular by secular professors and drilled in by mainstream press and politicians. It is ours to conform our consciences with Church teachings understanding and ‘believing’ that those teachings are as close to Christ as we can get.
    I speak as a once athiest, radical feminest, new age dabbler who was brought to Christ thru a New Age venue, finally into a faith community of Quakers where I stayed 15 years before leaving and finally, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit was brought rather powerfully into Communion with the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. As blessed as that powerful experience was for me; opening my mind and heart to the Real Presence in the Eucharist and through reading some of the Documents of the Church pertaining to issues close to me (life issues) bringing me to the wholeness of Truth that subsides in the Catholic Church; has powerful and special as that was it has left me clueless to know how to share that with others like yourself.

    What happened then (Jan-Feb 2005) was not that I suddenly knew everything but that I suddenly had my internal attitude shifted 180 degrees. Instead of approaching the doctrines of the Church with a skeptical reserve, which had categorized my approach to all life for my previous 58 years, I was now consuming Catholic teaching like a starving prisoner suddenly set free at a banquet. But the learning has come easily and the more I study and read and pray the the more fully I understand the dangers of trying to continually re-invent the wheel. The more I understand the teachings of the Church the more I see I want to and the more I see I don’t need to. That is the paradox.

    The teachings of the Church are not the intellectual fruits of one or even a few persons. They are the fruits of Divine Grace given to many, tested by even more and held together by an uncommon Wisdom of Faith and Love.

    I have shared this with you in lieu of continuing to argue point by point as that is pointless 😉 I will point out however (see how contrary I am) that the comment about the Pope not declaring teaching on abortion infallible is substantively in error. That abortion is murder of the most innocent and defenseless among us has been for thousands of years considered grave sin against the Natural Law. No Pope declares anything as New Doctrine what God has already established. The same is true for all that comes under the Ten Commandments. As for women’s ordination – Oh Lord I have not the time nor energy here but, again, as a former radical feminest turned grateful daughter of the Christ’s Church, I understand and gladly accept the role of the priest (not Parish manager) as the human agent of Jesus Christ for distribution of Sacraments. That God chose Jesus His Son and a man was His choice not ours. As a woman, I am neither offended nor diminished. I am enlightened and empowered by God’s Grace alone. Reasoned understanding is important but it must be guidedby faith while faith be informed by reason. (This a big theme of Popes JPII, Benedict XVI as well as Christoph Cardinal Shoenborn. I’ve again used too many words and not said what I’de hope to say very well.

    Neil, here are a few suggestions. First; Go find an adoration Chapel and sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one hour or longer everyday for two weeks. Then start to read Scripture while in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Then continue with The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edit while sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Then read whatever book or journal that the Lord gives you to read while sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

    I believe you will find the clarity you seek with the Light that shines Eternally through Jesus Christ via His Church.

    May God Bless you and shine His face upon you,


  22. 23


    Thank you for your concern and kind thoughts.

    So far as Protetant churches are concerned, they are recognized by the RC church as being channels of grace. The idea that there is no salvation outside the church is heresy.

    I was at a Catholic meeting today where concern was expressed about the diminishing number of priests. I pointed out that so long as church discipline gave more importance to celibacy than to the Eucharist, our faith-practise would be severely diminished.

  23. 24
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Dear Mary: You seem to believe in a church that is faulty, full of sinners, just like any other church. I believe in Christ directly, there is no church in between. No church is perfect, least of all the pope, he only got the impossibel task of speaking for many millions of people around the world which must be extremely difficult since a lot of people start to use their thinking powers these days. God has given us an intellect and expects us to use it.
    I will be all for protecting the unborn when I see that the child is not only born but also raised. As my friend Hillary Clinton once said  » It takes a village to raise a child ». Are we willing to help take care of a child of a teenage mom that has been thrown out by her family? Are we willing to put up money for schooling? In other words, are we as districts, villages and cities open to embrasse single mothers, not as charity but because they have the same human value as we do.

  24. 25
    Mary McCurry Says:

    Dear Neil: Are you speaking to another Mary? Your comments did not reflect anything I said. It is a puzzle.

    Dear Heidi: As a Catholic I understand ‘The Church’ to be the Mystical Body of Christ. As such there is no fault or error. However there are individual members who error and sin. In doing so they fall away from the Christ’s True Church. What I am picking up on this blog from several people (Suzanne excluded) is a real misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of the Human Person, the Catholic Church of Christ, Sacramental Grace, True Freedom and the principle of subsidiarity. I see among so many people a real confusion over issues of authority and governance vs Authority and Providence. One pertains to our secular world (rightly so) and the other comes from God. We need be careful not to confuse these.
    When people make comments about Church Doctrine such as ‘I considered it carefully and agree in part or agree totally or don’t agree at all’ they are confusing the two distinctly different areas of authority. I may (and very much do) take issue with civil matters, matters of political concern. Living in the SFBay area of CA I scrutinize all the propositions before the voters and try to keep track of bills most important to me (assisted suicide/euthanasia, abortion, marriage and family, etc.) I am free to actually obligated to take issue with laws as they stand that I believe are morally wrong but I need to do so with care and accept the consequences of my actions.
    Not so with Church Doctrine. The teachings of the Christ’s Church are subject to my scrutiny or judgment. They come from God. It is nice when we agree but my or anyone else’s agreement does not affect the Truth of those teachings. To understand what I am saying requires a condition of faith. Without that faith this must all sound like hogwash;-)

    Our intellects are given us, along with everything else, by God to be put the service of His Will, not ours. The purpose of human life is to please God by at least trying our best to follow His will. Understanding His Truth in at best a limited way, is nice but not necessary. Puting our faculties of reason at the service of faith is. Our free will allows us to wander the dessert trying to figure out how to survive or how to find green pastures. It also allows us to read and follow His map to come into the land of milk and honey (His Love and Grace)

    We cannot reduce God or His Divine Will to human management issues. God is not a big CEO or President or Prime Minister. His Kingdom is not a democracy. And our freedom TRUE FREEDOM can be had when we receive the Graces of our Baptism and come into the fullness of His Church. (read Mystical Body of Christ)

    Ordination as a Priest is NOT in anyway similar to Licensing as a Medical Doctor or election to a high civilian government office. And not being a Priest does not diminish in any way what I am; a human person; created by God in His Image.
    On a personal note; I must tell you that since being Graced by the Holy Spirit Who lead me back into the Catholic Church I have found far more freedom and wholeness and true meaning in life than in all the previous years of searching and arguing and struggling to find ‘my way’. I have now found His Way and my only struggle is with myself to follow that Way as He would have me. Consider this: When is a train the most free; when it is on the tracks or off? As long as my wheels fit snugly on the Church tracks this soul can fly and fly!! AMEN!

    Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. That will answer you much better. And thank you Suzanne for all your gifts and imput here. You add so much.

  25. 26


    I was speaking to you.

    You seemed to be patronizing, if not contemptuous of the Protestant religion as though a little bit of truth might have dripped over to them from the fullness of the Catholic church. Not so.

    Also you give the impression that if Rome says « Jump » you respond « How high? » But when the septuagarian celibates in Rome in effect say that celibacy is more important than the Eucharist, I beg to differ.

    If you get your jollies kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament,
    (akin to the prayer of quietude) then good on you. I don’t

  26. 27
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Dear Mary: I now understand much better what you meant before. I agree with a lot of what you said, especially as a Christian I also believe that God is perfect and does not need my permission or input to do anything.
    I only have a problem with your setting priests apart. To me, they are just regular people with a calling. I felt the same way about being a nurse. We just take care of each other in different ways.
    And I really enjoy the way you express your opinion, even the parts I do not agree with . They make me think and grow. Thank you!

  27. 28
    Mary McCurry Says:

    Neil: I am sorry if I sounded patronizing to Protestants. I did not intend that. But to be clear there is NO Protestant religion. There are tens of thousands of Protestant religions. That was the point I was making. When times kept tuff, when issues and conditions cause stress and strain to we wrestle with that which divides; expand our comfort zone in order to reach unity in His Church or do we say bye bye and go start our own. I don’t mean that as put down but only as a reflection of the fact that with all the Catholic Churches faults and sinners and scandals she has persevered in the quest for unity in Truth. The Catholic Church, more than any other, has the richest intellectual foundation in Western Culture, the deepest mystical and prayer tradition, the most magnificent expression of beauty in art and music as well as a juridical and liturgical tradition that represents a nearly seamless transition from our Hebrew parents: God’s chosen people. That Protestants protested simply means they protested the original Catholic Church. I don’t dispute the miserable conditions that the Church leaders and members had taken the Church to that partially prompted the Reformation. But I am saying that the Counter-reformation ultimately brought a stabler and stronger and more unified wholeness while Protestants continue to protest and split and split and split. And when Catholics start doing that within the our own Catholic Church – then those of us who are graced with knowledge to know better; to know where the Compass points and who holds it are obligated by not only our consciences but by our God to witness to His Supreme Divine Truth as He reveals it.

    This seems way far off from the original topic of voting pro-choice candidates but it is essential to have the foundation of our Faith before we engage others to alter or deny it. For a Protestant who is living out his/her faith in sincerity and trust in the doctrines of whatever their denomination God’s Graces will bless them. But when a Catholic is living in perpetual and public denial of the teachings of His Church; picking and choosing what doctrines to accept or reject and placing himself as an autonomous source of authority above the Authority granted by God through Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit – when that condition is present there exists the danger of leading others into the near occasion of sin. If this sounds a bit harsh think of the consequences to one’s soul if no one speaks up.If you want to keep re-inventing the wheel that’s your free choice. But while you carve out the spokes you might notice the jets flying overhead.

    As to the Blessed Sacrament – I would not have come back into the Church after a 45 year hiatus if I had not experienced the Real Presence in the Eucharist at the time of Consecration on Jan 2, 2005 at the 8PM Mass at St. Thomas More CC in San Fransisco. It was profound and powerful. It was followed by my reading of Vatican Docuements on Life at which time my conversion was synched. I chose to read those docuements because I had strong and well informed views on the subject of euthanasia and end of life care (Hospice nurse) What happened as I read these docuements shortly after the experience of the Real Presence was my eyes were opened to the ‘Substance and fullness of Truth not just in the few pages I was reading but the whole of it. I recognized that these docuements were not written by JPII or any other human who sat down and wrote out off the top of his head or by his best intellectual pursuit but represented the cumulative wisdom of God’s holiest ministered over thousands of years. And those online Church docuements were not followed by reader comments or opinion polls. They stand on their own: they stand on His Word.
    I suggested sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament because that is where the Master Teacher resides. If anyone doubts they should try it. I might also suggest listening to the Conversion stories on Journey Home ( if you don’t get it on TV. It is archived in video format. There are also several books with stories of conversion by people quite different from one another and from me. What we all have in common is a history of doubt and questioning and in some case outright hostility to the Catholic Church or religion generally. And of course we all have in common our journey home. Good watching!


  28. 29


    I both welcome and respect your heart-felt expression of personal faith. Indeed you have been graced and no doubt are helping others on the journey. Thanks again, Mary.

  29. 30
    Mary McCurry Says:


    I’m a nurse too! 🙂 But a priest is different from other professions. The ordination of the Priest is a Sacrament whence by the laying on of hands of the Episcopal Priest (Bishop) receives the ourpouring of the Holy Spirit and the powers entrusted by Jesus to His first disciples and passed on in unbroken apostolic succession for the past two plus thousand years. Those Sacramental powers are completely independent from the person of the priest. Those powers enable the priest no matter the state of his soul at the time to become a channel of Divine Grace in the Consecration of Bread and Wine and the subsequent witnessing of the miracle of transubstantiation with the bread and wine turned into the Body and Blood of Christ. He also recieves the powers to administer the Sacrament of Penance by being a channel of the Grace of God in bestowing the forgiveness of sins confessed freely and with full contrition. As with the Eucharistic Consecration the spiritual condition or state of the priest’s own soul does not affect the Sacramental powers or Graces bestowed on the recipient. That is why a Priest is a priest for life though he may become a heretic, an unrepentant sinner, be defrocked, be forbidden to preach or hold ecclesial office or be insane or in jail he never loses those powers Ordained him by Christ through the successors to His Apostles.

    Aha! I finally got there. That is the miraculous gift bestowed on me without merit on my part; the infused knowledge of the Truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist and the Authority of Christ conferred by Apostolic Succession. These are the two doctrines upon which all the rest hinge. And it was these two that set me on this road of daily conversion, not to mention Courses in Scripture and Theology and hundreds of books and hours of prayer. You see, I fell in love and nearly three and half years later I am still very much in love with Christ’s Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If I kept writing for a thousand volumes I could not convey that to you or anyone for it was not by my means given. That’s what is so hard for me; to see such Beauty in Truth as Love so visible in His house while the family residing in it keep searching under pillows and drawers for that very place in which they be.

  30. 31
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Mary: I have a problem where someone thinks they have the full truth. I see the Catholic Church as equal to the rest of the churches. When I talk to Caholics there are as many opinions as there are Catholics. And they all listen to the bibel which is the Word of God. At least for me it is. So, if there 20 Catholics there are 20 different views. I disagree that a church speaks for the individuals.
    As I said before God has given me a mind, he gives me thoughts. It is because I believe that everything is in him which means that everything belongs to Him. It will be He that decides what is worthwhile to be kept and what needs to be thrown out. So, one church is not apart from others even if it is the first one. It is very painful to split up a church and I do not advocate it but sometimes humans are not capabel of living together and working out their problems. It is difficult between two people so in a group it is much more difficult.

    All people that have an honest intention of servong the Lord are his children. And I say intention because we all fall short.
    To set the Catholic Church apart is just plain wrong. They had much more time to work things out than all the other churches and so much is expected from them. And there is a lot of truth coming out right now that will make the Catholic Church stronger but right now it does not look too great.
    I belong to a church full of sinners but together we hold up the circle of His children. We hold each other when someone is in difficulty, we pray for each other and we try our best to love each other. We all struggle but God succeeds with His eternal plan.
    I also have a personal faith and I can understand the part about being in love with Christ. I hold your hand, let us walk toghther. God gives the blessing.

  31. 32
    Mary McCurry Says:

    Thanks for your response. The belief that the ‘fullness’ of Truth subsides in the Catholic Church does not mean the Catholic Church knows all there is to know or has ‘all’ the Truth. Only God has ‘all’ the Truth. Nor does it mean that other faiths do not hold truths; indeed they do. And yes, lots of Catholics hold different ‘opinions’ about a lot of things but that is not ‘the Church’. It is a sad fact of only a few recent decades that we have what are called Cafeteria Catholics; who pick and choose what they will or what suits them. It developed in large part because of a secular culture that puts so much emphasis on the individual that individuals have morphed into a kind of pseudo narcissism and reject the much higher calling to be self giving or life giving. My opinion here, but too much pop psychology and navel watching;( But individuals in all faiths have been and continue to be wrong about a lot of things and sinners just like me and just like our Clergy and parishioners and … maybe not my cat:) (She’s thinks she’s God incatnate) I obviously am not expressing myself well here. Regarding the use of our minds; intellects – in fact in ‘real life’ I am frequently criticized for thinking too much, studying too much and being overly dependent on the intellect 😉 I should share some of your collective comments here but I won’t.
    Anyway, about the CC; she has one of the longest and richest intellectual traditions in all civilizations. Our legal system is rooted in Canon law. Unlike most or all Protestant churches our seminarians study the great thinkers of philosophy like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, etc to develop a foundation of intellectual processing before they start their theology studies. The Church supports the pursuit of science and the advancement of right reason. As a strict Catholic I retain a great leeway in my judgments, decisions and opinions. But the Church offers the best sound judgment on the most crucial issues and guidance in matters of faith and morals. And her judgments are rooted deeply in Scripture. The Bible, as we have today, did not exist during the first few hundred years after Christ. Jesus taught his Apostles without one written word of His own and sent them off to carry His message. He also taught by example and even gave us the Litergy of the Eucharist at the last supper. A better understanding of the Hebrew faith helps to read these Scriptures that were later written. And He directed and empowered his Apostles to continue His ministry via ‘the Church’. In other words he set in place what we call ‘tradition’. What written accounts of His ministry were later floated around the Christian communities did not come under scrutiny of Church discernment four nearly 400 years. And it was the Catholic Church which canonized the books and letters we now have, delegating others as either worthwhile but not necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit or others as simply false or heretical teachings. The point is that the Bible came well after the establishment of Christ’s Church and its teachings through tradition and the final Canon of Scripture as the inspired Word of God came though the the Holy Catholic Church and Apostolic succession.
    Read the early Church fathers – the ones who knew directly and were taught by the original Apostles. And read Church history or the history of the Bible. This is really all beyond this blog subject.
    Back to reason and the use of our God given faculties. Yes, God wants me to use my mind but for His Will and not another’s. By Grace I have been opened to the fullness of Truth embodied in the RCC and so when I am confronted with her teachings I use my intellect which allows me to understand those teachings and if I do not understand something to take pause and dig deeper and perhaps ask for help in prayer. Frankly that latter does not happen to me often because by faith my mind has been opened to His Truth. My apologies for repeating myself so often hear but it is important if we are to communicate effectively. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. His Truth via doctrines and articles of faith finds its fullness among humans in the Catholic Church as was founded by Jesus Christ Himself. This is in Scripture. What is not in Scripture is the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura or ‘the Bible alone’ is the only source or criteria for human judgment. This is very basic Catholic teaching without which a firm faith here makes it difficult to justify calling oneself Catholic. And one more repeat; Just like I cannot even skim the surface of this subject here, none of us have the time, the ability, the resources to re-establish individually and separately what has come to us as the collaberative efforts of thousands of faithful men and women guided by the same Holy Spirit that guided them in establishing the Canon of Scripture known as the Bible. The deeper I go into the Scripture and the more thoroughly I study the teachings of the Catholic Church the closer I am drawn into that Mystery of Trinitarian faith that calls each and everyone of us. May God bless us and His Holy Catholic Church.


  32. 33
    James Says:

    What if a person wants mandatory prison sentences for anyone and everyone involved in an abortion (including taking or administering RU 486) supports the war in Iraq, thinks « global warming » is a farce, considers universal health care socialist creep down the road to destruction, wants to deport all illegal aliens, and believes the minimum wage is fundamentally anti-capitalist — is that person a good Catholic in your estimation?

    The abolitionist movement was nothing more than a group of people attemtping to impose their morality on others? Merely because they thought slavery was descpicable, they tried to enforce their personal convictions on others who might disagree. To some slavery was not immoral – therefore they should be left to own slaves? This is the essence of the argument of the pro-abortion crowd?

    Even if slavery does not bother you morally, you should still not be allowed to own slaves. Even if abortion does not bother you morally, you should not be allowed to have an abortion. It’s really not that complicated. Anyone who supported slavery was sub human and without a soul – anyone who supports murdering a baby is sub human and does not have a soul.

    The only difference between abortion and slavery? Slave owners did not murder their slaves as a matter of course. Few slaves were murdered. All abortion victims die.

    Anyone who supports this has no right to call themselves Catholic. They should move along and find another Church and not pollute mine with their disgusting views.

  33. 34
    Romanus Says:

    Opposition to abortion is based on religious beliefs. A fundamental principle of American democracy is that no one can impose their religious beliefs on others. Therefore, there should not be any laws against abortion.

    By this reasoning, almost all of our laws would have to be thrown out. The Bible clearly says, « Thou shalt not steal ». Does this mean that all laws against theft are attempts to impose a religious view on others, and should not be permitted? American Indian religion is said to include great respect for the natural environment. Does this make all anti-pollution laws an attempt to impose Indian religious beliefs on others? Almost every law embodies principles that are consistent with some religious or ethical teaching.

    People have many different ideas and theories about when human life begins. Laws against abortion are an attempt to impose one particular theory, the theory that life begins at conception. But what about people who believe other ideas? Why should they be forced to to abide by this one theory?

    When the Supreme Court declared that all laws protecting babies in the womb were unconstitutional, they imposed their own theory of when life begins: the theory that life begins at birth. There are some issues on which it is not possible to be neutral. In some countries it is illegal to kill an unborn baby after the first trimester: they have imposed the theory that life begins at thirteen weeks gestation. In other countries it is illegal to kill any unborn baby: they have imposed the theory that life begins at conception. In the U.S. it is illegal to kill someone once they have been born: our country has imposed the theory that life begins at birth. Perhaps if a country had no laws at all against killing anyone, you could say that they were truly « neutral » on this subject.

    Legal abortion imposes the theory that life does not begin until birth.

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