Casting a vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden requires a reason that “outweighs the killing of 860,000 babies per year,” an Illinois bishop said last week.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, noted that abortion remains the Catholic Church’s “preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself,” quoting from the 2015 “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” document from the U.S. bishops.
“In light of this information, I and many of my brother bishops and priests have been asked if it is a sin to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, especially since Mr. Biden has recently said he would seek to codify the abortion license of Roe v. Wade if it were overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court, and he would support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion,” said Paprocki.
As attorney general of California, Harris initiated the prosecution of David Daleiden, a journalist who exposed the abortion industry’s participation in the illegal sale of body parts.
“Harris orchestrated the raid of Daleiden’s apartment in which authorities seized a laptop and several hard drives that contained the videos he filmed as part of his expose of Planned Parenthood,” Paprocki said.
Earlier this month, Daleiden said no other undercover journalist in California has ever been charged under the state’s video recording law in its 60-year history.
“Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ vehement support for laws that promote abortion is what leads many people to ask if it is a sin to vote for them,” Paprocki continued. “Voting itself is not a sin. In fact, it is a good thing to vote, but voting for someone who promotes an intrinsic evil raises the question of cooperation with evil.”
The Illinois bishop said Catholic moral theology distinguishes between formal and material cooperation. Formal cooperation is when someone “shares the evil intent of the wrongdoer,” while material cooperation occurs when someone does not “share the intention of the wrongdoer,” but is “in some way involved.”
Material cooperation with evil, which can be further distinguished between proximate and remote cooperation, requires “a proportionately grave reason,” he said.
“The more proximate the cooperation, the more proportionately grave the reasons needed for the action to be justified,” Paprocki noted.
Applied to voting, casting a ballot for a candidate because he supports abortion is formal cooperation and “is always sinful.” On the other hand, a voter who does not intend to support abortion but votes for someone who intends to promote abortion “becomes a cooperator in an intrinsic evil.”
“It can be argued that the cooperation is mediate because that one person’s vote may not be essential to the procurement of abortion. But mediate cooperation in a grave evil requires a proportionately grave reason to be justified,” said Paprocki. “Over 860,000 abortions took place in 2017, the latest year reported in the United States. In order to justify voting for a proponent of abortion, one would need a proportionately grave reason that outweighs the killing of 860,000 babies per year.”
He said a candidate’s opposition to the death penalty does not constitute a “proportionately grave reason,” since capital punishment is not in the same moral category as abortion.
“While abortion is considered to be an intrinsic evil, the death penalty has been called inadmissible by Pope Francis,” Paprocki said. “The second problem with this argument is the lack of numerical equivalency. While over 860,000 abortions took place in our country in the last reported year, there were a total of 22 executions of prisoners in seven states in 2019.”
“It is hard to see how voting for someone who opposes the death penalty would be a proportionately grave reason to justify voting for that same candidate who promotes abortion,” the bishop concluded.