Comment submitted by Ed Lambro

Election 2020Election Week 1

I am delighted and proud the Association is taking a stand on the issue of Cardinal Dolan’s utterly inappropriate behavior. I might suggest offering members the opportunity to sign the document and give it even more public relations value.

I am convinced his recklessness is a reaction (conscious or unconscious) to the Papal insult he believes he has suffered by the Vatican placing Cardinal Tobin in Newark. There is no question in the minds of those who can read between the lines that this was a deliberate attempt to dilute Dolan’s influence, after he has made so many unwise and counterproductive public statements. 

I am adding below a summary of information I am using for those looking for a good faith formation guide to intelligent voting.

  1. Bernardin’s consistent Ethic of Life. Certainly the foundational text for dealing with the Consistent Ethic of Life is Cardinal Bernardin’s own writings on the topic. I’d recommend buying and reading the collection, Consistent Ethic of Life, which gathers Bernardin’s own writings on the topic. It’s available on Amazon at: .
  1. Commonweal articles on single-issue voting. There have been numerous articles in recent years that deal with the topic of avoiding the trap of single-issue voting by Catholics. Two Commonwealarticles strike me as pretty good summaries of how Pope Francis has taken on this concern. In a 2018 article entitled, “The Gospel Isn’t Single Issue: Pope Francis Warns Against Narrow Ideologies,” Paul Moses goes right to Francis’s apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate to articulate the need for a consistent life ethic in voting. The article is available at: . This article places Francis’s teaching in the context of earlier Catholic teaching (including John Paul’s), showing that he’s not some kind of radical outlier in taking this position. In another article from Commonweal in 2017, entitled “How Pope Francis Reframes the Politics of Being ‘Profile’: Consistency is Key,” John Gehringpoints out one of the key practical dangers of single-issue voting: It allows politicians to manipulate voters; they can get Catholics (and others who care about life issues) to ignore all sorts of atrocities by narrowing their focus to one part of one issue: the abortion part of the protection of life issue. When it comes right down to it, the 2020 election doesn’t have ANY candidate who is fully ‘pro-life’ in the Catholic sense of that term. In response, Catholic leaders like Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal Cupich, and Bishop McElroy are echoing Pope Francis’s call for Catholics to understand that “life issues” involve more than just opposition to abortion. (Among other things, one ought to remember that the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267 teaches that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she [the Church] works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” That’s a pretty clear statement that the church’s pro-life stance is about more than just opposing abortion.) This article draws specifically on Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si. The article is available at: .
  1. Bishop McElroy’s Address: “Conscience, Candidates, and Discipleship in Voting.” This is a very well done piece and I recommend it highly. Earlier this year, Bishop McElroy of San Diego gave an address at the University of San Diego that takes up this topic of the need for Catholics to avoid the trap of single-issue voting, and instead, to assess candidates with an eye toward a consistent life ethic. He points out that one votes for a candidate, not an issue, and therefore character, ability, honesty, integrity all come into play, as the elected official will be dealing with issues we cannot even foresee at the moment, so we have to choose the person most likely to accomplish the common good. McElroy provides a useful set of four points that a Catholic ought to consider when voting:

·        There is no mandate in universal Catholic social teaching that gives a categorical priority to either of these issues [abortion or protection of the environment] as uniquely determinative of the common good.

·        The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the long-term death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity.

·        Both abortion and the environment are core life issues in official Catholic teaching.

·        The designation of either of these issues as the preeminent question in Catholic social teaching at this time in the United States will inevitably be hijacked by partisan forces to propose that Catholics have an overriding duty to vote for candidates that espouse that position. Recent electoral history shows this to be a certainty.

Note that McElroy takes up (in this fourth point) the topic seen in the Gehring article, that single-issue voting leads to a manipulation of the voter by politicians and parties, getting Catholics (and others) to abandon the rest of their values out of a false sense of duty to one part of one issue (i.e., opposition to abortion as one part of the Catholic Church’s life ethic).

McElroy’s address is available at, and this site also includes a 4:20 video summary that’s quite useful.

  1. USCCB bulletin inserts. The USCCB has prepared two bulletin inserts for parishioners across the country, instructing them in how to make their voting decisions this year. While the inserts are unequivocal about the church’s opposition to abortion, they also make it clear that the USCCB situates the abortion issue within the broader framework of a consistent ethic of life, including supports for women in crisis pregnancies, and an end to euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryo destruction, the death penalty, and unjust and imprudent war (see Insert #2, p. 2). The bishops also cite a series of issues that Catholics must keep in mind when casting their vote: protection of the family, comprehensive immigration reform, overcoming of poverty and help to the poor, protection of religious freedom, provision of healthcare, opposition to racism and discrimination, limits on the use of military force, and international solidarity in the pursuit of peace, protection of  human rights, advancement of economic justice, and care for creation (see Insert #2, p. 2). At the end of the day, NEITHER party’s candidate measures up on all of these issues that matter to Catholics, and NEITHER of them is fully ‘pro-life’ in the Catholic sense of that term. CLEARLY, the U.S. bishops, in solidarity with the pope, are insisting that Catholics CANNOT be single-issue voters—and that even the ‘single issue’ of the protection of human life involves more than just the opposition to legalized abortion. The first bullet insert is available at and the second bulletin insert is available at

Reply signed: Edward Lambro

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