+Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus+
Having fought the Feeneyite wars recently (AGAIN), it has become even clearer than before how the plan to demean and renounce papal authority was carefully laid out long before the death of Pope Pius XII. First, of course, by the Modernists, (and Feeney may very well have been in their employ. More on this in next week’s blog.) But most successfully by Traditionalists, who were the creators of the pope-less church model. If they did not actually renounce the popes, they ignored them, sidestepped them, criticized them and consistently disobeyed them. I created this site to address those abuses. And while I can understand and sympathize with the concerns of those who are uncomfortable with the voting situation today, I can hardly derail the stated purpose of this site and ignore my bounden duty as a Catholic to obey the popes.
I can tell you that the popes considered it a mortal sin not to vote for the candidate who was at least the lesser evil, but I cannot declare you convicted of that sin because I am not your confessor. No one, however, has the right to question the pope’s duty to say this and every Catholic’s strict obligation to uphold it. We follow the safer course as Catholics praying at home precisely because we have no confessors to consult. That course is to follow the Roman Pontiffs in all things, even if we harbor personal doubts, because they speak to us with Christ’s own voice. I have been torn over this; I have considered all sides even before writing the last blog. But always I intended to vote as I have done all my adult years, exactly as Pope Pius XII teaches. This even though I may be sympathetic, inclined to agree with certain points, and well aware of the conscience struggles readers might face. Because in the end obedience has nothing to do with what WE think or feel, which is a Modernist error, and everything to do with obeying the popes in order to secure our eternal salvation.
If we pretend we can discern the mind of the pope in this issue in such a way that allows us to exempt ourselves, we are no better than Traditionalists. For this is a thinly-veiled appeal to epikeia based on the presumption that Pope Pius XII would not wish it to apply in this case. This presumption would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt according to the rules governing Canon Law, which both St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII have infallibly taught must be observed to the letter during a sede vacante. Given the proofs presented below, from so many different sources, of Pope Pius XII’s true intent in this regard there can be no doubt regarding the mind of the lawgiver. In fact given the dire circumstances prevailing today, the need to observe his commands is probably even more urgent now than in the past. And Catholics have no right to hold a different “opinion” in this matter. For as Pope Leo XIII wrote in Immortale Dei:
“If in the difficult times in which Our lot is cast, Catholics will give ear to Us, as it behooves them to do, they will readily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as action. As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have hitherto taught, or shall hereafter teach, must be held with a firm grasp of mind, and, so often as occasion requires, must be openly professed.” And we also must take to heart what it really means to love and obey the pope, taught to us by Pope St. Pius X:
“…To love the Pope, it is sufficient to reflect who he is. The Pope is the guardian of dogma and morals; he is the depository of the principles which ensure the integrity of the family, the grandeur of nations, the sanctity of souls. He is the counsel of princes and peoples; he is the chief under whose sway none feels tyrannized, because he represents God Himself. He is par excellence the father who unites in himself all that is loving, tender, divine.
“And how must the Pope be loved? Not in word alone. but in deed and in truth. Non verbo neque lingua, sed opere et veri. “Not in word nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth” (a) When we love someone, we seek to conform ourselves in everything to his thoughts, to execute his will, to interpret his desires. And if Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, Si quis diligit me, sermonum meum servabit: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word” (b), to show our love for the Pope we must obey him. And this is why, when we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing OR SEEK TO KNOW WHERE THE STRICT OBLIGATION OF OBEDIENCE LIES, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well.
“Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the pope who is commanding, but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Popes authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy. For where there is holiness, there cannot be disagreement with the Pope” (Allocution to the members of the Apostolic Union, November 18, 1912, on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Union. Congratulations on the piety of the Union vilerims — Duties of priests; Solesmes Monks).
Notice that what is stated above applies just as easily to papal opinions as to de fide teachings. Catholics, especially those in America, have imbibed from the cradle the belief that they have the inherent right to decide things for themselves and make up their own minds regarding, especially, temporal affairs. This conviction is so strong that they often cannot be shaken from it. Human reason, however, must always be enlightened by faith, and the truths of faith cometh from the lips of the Holy Father, whose decisions are guided by the Holy Ghost. That we find ourselves today without a visible Church is the result of man relying on his own proud efforts to reason and interpret what the popes have said and commanded us to do. We cannot allow that to continue in a time when we are left without guidance of any kind, save that of Christ’s Vicars. Below we will see that the bulk of those documents exhorting us to vote for the candidate who is the lesser evil are found in the Acta Apostolica Sedis and are therefore binding on all Catholics.
Help from our readers is much appreciated!
Readers have really come through in helping firm up this papal teaching, providing additional proofs, sources and support. My heartfelt thanks.
From our dear and faithful Catholic friends in Spain, Cefas (and Javier), we received the following:
“Blessings, dear brothers, obeying what was said by Pope Pius XII and Catholic moral theology, observing even the reflex principles that it gives us, we are absolutely certain that abstaining from elections is a serious offense against morality and civil society , and a mortal sin as determined by Pope Pius XII, allowing through abstention that a more unacceptable party or candidate can roam free, thus making us accomplices of it.**
Saint Paul to the ROMANS XIII, 1-7
“THIS CHAPTER INSTILLS THE DUTIES TOWARDS THE CIVIL POWER, AND IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT St. PAUL WROTE THESE WARNINGS IN THE TIME OF NERO, AN EXTREMELY CRUEL PERSECUTOR OF CHRISTIANS. Obeying the authorities is an obligation independent of the personal qualities of the representatives. See Mt 22, 21; 1 Pet. 2, 13-15; Jn. 19, 11. The Fathers of the Church tried with all diligently profess and propagate this same doctrine: “Let us not ascribe but to the true God the power to give the kingdom and the empire” (S. Agustín). We see an eloquent confirmation of this doctrine in Eph. 6, 5 ff. And in the submission of Paul and Peter to prison and martyrdom. 1770 7. That is to say that the payment of taxes is not a merely civil obligation, of which a Christian cannot be dispensed in conscience, but a religious duty. The Gospel is thus not only the strength of God for salvation (1, 16), but also the insurmountable motor of each soul for the order and well-being of organized society.”
DOCTRINAL POINT – STANDARDS FOR ELECTIONS
Norms for the elections Meeting in 1931, the Argentine Episcopate, to deal with modern secularism and the civic duties of Catholics, established the following norms of conscience for all elections:
“Those who have the right to vote are obliged, as a general rule, to exercise their right, as long as no obstacle of gravity proportional to the importance of the election stands in the way; because ABSTENTION WOULD BECOME COMPLICITY AND RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE GOD, as long as she can contribute to the triumph of an unworthy candidate or to the defeat of a remarkably better candidate.”
“WHEN ALL THE CANDIDATES OR LISTS THAT ARE PRESENTED ARE UNACCEPTABLE, FROM THE CATHOLIC POINT OF VIEW, ONE MUST VOTE FOR THE LEAST UNACCEPTABLE…”
– GRAVE SIN, A DEADLY FAULT (1951)
– STRICT OBLIGATION (1948)
– ACT OF GRAVE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY (1946)
Pope Pius XII:
“It is a right and a duty to draw the attention of the faithful to the extraordinary importance of elections and the moral responsibility that falls on all those who have the right to vote. Without a doubt, the Church intends to remain outside and above the political parties, but how can you remain indifferent to the composition of a Parliament, when the Constitution grants you the power to pass laws that so directly affect the highest religious interests and even the condition of life of the Church itself? Also other arduous questions, above all economic problems and struggles that closely affect the well-being of peoples. Insofar as they are of a temporal order (although in reality they also affect the moral order), the ecclesiastics leave it to others to ponder and deal with them. Technically with them for the common good of the nation. From all this it follows that: IT IS A STRICT DUTY FOR ALL WHO HAVE THE RIGHT, MEN OR WOMEN, TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTIONS. WHOEVER ABSTAINS, ESPECIALLY OUT OF COWARDICE, COMMITS A SERIOUS SIN, A DEADLY FAULT. Everyone has to vote according to the dictates of his own conscience. Now, it is evident that the voice of this conscience imposes on every sincere Catholic the duty to vote for those candidates, or those lists of candidates, that really offer sufficient guarantees to safeguard the rights of God and of the souls of men, for the real good of individuals, families and society, according to the law of God and Christian moral doctrine” (Address to the Delegates of the International Conference on Migration, October 17, 1951: https://archive.org/details/popespeaksteachi0000pius/page/301/mode/1up?q=).
Pope Pius XII:
THE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT TO VOTE IS AN ACT OF SERIOUS MORAL RESPONSIBILITY, AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO ELECTING THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO GIVE THE COUNTRY ITS CONSTITUTION AND ITS LAWS, IN PARTICULAR THOSE THAT AFFECT, FOR EXAMPLE, THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE PARTIES, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, SCHOOL, REGULATION ACCORDING TO JUSTICE AND EQUITY OF MULTIPLE SOCIAL CONDITIONS. IT IS, THEREFORE, UP TO THE CHURCH TO EXPLAIN TO THE FAITHFUL THE MORAL DUTIES DERIVED FROM THIS ELECTORAL RIGHT.” https://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/it/speeches/1946/documents/hf_p-xii_spe_19460316_quaresimalisti.html
Pope Pius XII:
That, in the present circumstances, IT IS A STRICT OBLIGATION OF ALL MEN AND WOMEN WITH THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTIONS. Each one has to vote according to the dictates of his conscience. Now, it is evident that the voice of conscience requires every sincere Catholic to cast his vote for those candidates or lists of candidates that offer truly sufficient guarantees for the protection of the rights of God and of souls, for the true good of people, families. And society, according to the law of God and Christian moral doctrine. https://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/it/speeches/1948/documents/hf_p-xii_spe_19480310_intima-gioia.html
(Comment by T. Benns: In the work Papal Social Principles by Thomas J. Harte, C.S.s.R, 1956, the following comments on the above quote are listed: “Pius XII insisted that it was the right and duty of the priests to call the attention of the faithful to the extraordinary importance of these elections. He lays down two principles as guides. (1) In the existing circumstances, for those who have the right, it is a strict obligation to take part in the elections. Whoever absents himself, especially through indolence or spite, commits thereby a grave sin (commette in se un peccato grave). (2) Each one must vote according to the dictates of his own conscience. But every sincere Catholic is bound in conscience to vote for those candidates who offer sufficient guarantees for the upholding of the rights of God of souls and for promoting the true good of individuals the family and society AAS XL, 1948,119).
Additional Pope Pius XII quote (added by T. Benns):
“For Catholic women, especially at the present time, the vote is an important means of fulfilling her STRICT OBLIGATION IN CONSCIENCE (per adempire il suo rigoroso dovere di coscienza). Her path to the voting booth is the path of peace, not of class war or belligerency. She will keep to that path and the interests of the family and its welfare, refusing support to any tendency which would subordinate the internal or external peace of the nation to any selfish desires for domination” (Questa grande, October 21, 1945; AAS 37, 1945, 284-295).
Continuing from Cefas: “We must always have this principle to succeed in everything: what I see as white, believe that it is black if the hierarchical Church so determines; Believing that, between Christ our Lord, husband, and the Church, his wife, is the same Spirit and our Lord who gave the Ten Commandments, is ruled and governed by our holy Mother Church.”
** As long as their candidates are not materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of communism, since its propagation is condemned with excommunication since July 13, 1949.
Causes for excommunication:
- “Christifideles, qui communistarum doctrinam materialisticam et antichristianom profltentur”
- ”print who eam efendant vel propagant”
- ”Tamquam apostatae a fide catholica
It is evident that those who profess the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of Communism totally abandon the Catholic faith, since they deny the very foundations of natural religion: the existence of a personal God, the spirituality of the soul, the freedom of the will and all rewards. Or punishment in the afterlife. To profess, then, the communist doctrine is not to deny one or another dogma of the Christian faith (heresy); it is to deny all of them “radicitus”, in their very foundations; it is total and complete abandonment of the faith.
THERE ARE EVEN OBJECTIONS:
Since “L’Osservatore Romano” stresses that supporting communism with suffrage in elections, with support in social or political discussions and other similar acts, ARE NOT, IN THEMSELVES, A DEFENSE OR PROPAGANDA OF THE MATERIALIST DOCTRINE AND ANTICHRISTIAN. (Sic) Spanish Magazine of Canon Law. 1949, volume 4, #11. Pages 603-626; https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/50598531.pdf (End of Cephas comments)
Pius XII teachings and reader comments
Notice above in the teachings of Pope Pius XII that he is telling us how our conscience must be educated and exercised in order to satisfy obedience to the teachings of the Roman Pontiff. Is there validity to the argument that such papal law no longer binds because the moral conditions and subject matter has ceased? Only a canonically elected pope could determine the situation is beyond all repair. We can rightly judge that this is the case regarding the papacy because it can be verified by existing Canon Law, Church teaching, demonstrable facts and Scripture prophecy. The Church is a Divine institution and operates on entirely different principles allowing for Her corruption to be more easily verified. There can be no analogy between the two. While the secular government is certainly run by a synarchy, as Disandro ably details, he emphasizes bolstering up participation in government and restoration of cultural, educational, military and economic systems through the application of Catholic values, (something which had actually existed under Peron in the 1950s). Disandro encourages citizens to valiantly work to re-establish these institutions, not withdraw their support because the synarchy is in control.
At the time that Disandro wrote, Peron’s regime had been overthrown by a military junta, and this paved the way later for the establishment of a democracy. Many of the efforts to change and overthrow Latin American governments during this time period were secretly sponsored by elements working simultaneously with or for the CIA/Vatican, under the auspices of Felix Morlion, founder of Pro Deo and universities throughout South America educating those who would become the future leaders of these Latin American democracies. This eventually spawned Liberation theology, the theoretical basis for a “people’s church” openly supported by Montini. While we cannot perhaps be an active force in restoring our own nation’s government because the corruption is so deep, we can continue to vote for the least objectionable candidates, and hope that someday there will be an opportunity to contribute something toward rebuilding our nation on Catholic principles.
CATHOLIC VOTING PRINCIPLES
And from a very dear friend in Australia and her family, who have been loyal to the faith these many decades, we received the following: https://www.stjoanarc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Catholic-Voting-Principles.pdf
(This is a Novus Ordo site but it quotes all pre-1959 sources)
“On February 20, 1906, Pope St. Pius X sent a letter to the Spanish people, on the duty of voting, saying that when the cause of religion or of the state is endangered, no one can be indifferent. St. Pius X repeated the same to the French in Notre charge apostolique. Leo XIII speaking of politics in Immortale Dei warned against Catholics allowing people to come to power who will not improve the nation.
“Pope Pius XI in the encyclical to Mexico Firmissimam constantiam, March 28, 1937, said: “A Catholic will take care not to pass over his right to vote when the good of the Church or of the country requires it.” AAS 29, 189. Pope Pius XII said in 1946, “The exercise of the right to vote is an act of grave responsibility…” AAS 38, 187. Pope Pius XII, in a speech given September 11, 1947, wrote: “There is a heavy responsibility on everyone… who has the right to vote, especially when the interests of religion are at stake… Abstention in this case is, itself — it should be thoroughly understood — a grave and fatal sin of omission.” When there was a threat to the Church in Italy in 1948, Pope Pius XII said, “In the present circumstances it is strictly obligatory for whoever has the right… to take part in the elections. He who abstains, particularly through indolence or from cowardice, thereby commits a grave sin, a mortal offense.” AAS 40, 119.
“So, what does a conscientious Catholic do when one has two major candidates, both of questionable moral character? In 1921, in a letter from the French hierarchy to all the Catholics of France, the bishops wrote, “It is your duty to vote wisely; that is to say, in such a way as not to waste your votes. It would be better to cast them for candidates who, although not giving complete satisfaction to all our legitimate demands, would lead us to expect from them a line of conduct useful to the country, rather than to keep your votes for others whose program indeed may be more perfect, but whose almost certain defeat might open the door to the enemies of religion and of the social order.” St. Robert Bellarmine even pointed out in his work De laicis that some rulers who were personally immoral sometimes do more good than harm, such as the Kings Saul and Solomon.
The traditional theologian Adolphe Tanquerey said that if the vote is between two evil persons, however one is worse than the other, one may vote for the less evil and most profitable to the cause of good. (Tomus Tertius, De Variis Statuum Obligationibus, Caput I, De officiis laicorum, n. 999). Dominic Prummer, O.P., another traditional theologian, says the same. The Dominican Merkelbach states that when given a choice between two unworthy candidates, it is licit to elect the better candidate to prevent a more unworthy candidate from coming into power IF THERE IS NO HOPE THAT A GOOD CANDIDATE WILL BE ELECTED. He adds the following admonition: “Voters who, through grave fault by abstaining from voting do not stop an evil decision, election, or law from coming to pass, if they are bound by a specific duty to stop a foreseen harm which follows, are cooperators in evil.” (Summa Theologiae Moralis, Tomus Secundus, Tractatus De Virtute Cardinali Justitiae, Tertia Pars, Sectio A, De Justitia Commutativa, n. 316)
“He [St. Thomas] also says in his tract on justice that “By the virtue of distributive justice one should elect the more worthy candidate, not absolutely, but among those that can be had. If the vote for a more worthy candidate will not be beneficial, then one can elect a less worthy candidate to avoid the election of the more unworthy candidate.” (Summa Theologiae Moralis, Tomus Secundus, Tractatus De Virtute Cardinali Justitiae, Quarta Pars, De Justitia Distributiva, Questio Secunda, n. 619) Since the act of voting is good, it is lawful to vote for such an unworthy candidate provided there is a proportionate cause for the evil done and the good lost. These three moral theologians were used in nearly every seminary in the early 1900s – there are others as well: I’m just citing these three.
“Every traditional moral theologian that I found said that a citizen may elect an unworthy candidate in order to avoid the election of a more unworthy candidate. It is lawful to vote for a perfect moral candidate, a perfectly prolife candidate, that has no chance of winning but one must weigh the prudence of this when a vote for the perfect candidate might take away votes for another candidate who could actually win, preventing the worst candidate from gaining power. Included in ‘voting your conscience’ must be the reason why one didn’t use his or her vote to exclude the more unworthy candidate, who was going to promote greater evil, from being elected when one could have.
“Remember the nation I was describing at the beginning of this [article]? …The nation filled with gluttony, lavish homes, Christian symbols removed from the public, Christian interests dismissed by the courts, pagan principles taught in public schools, people inventing their own morality, contraception, immodesty, abortion? Which nation was this? The nation I was actually describing was the fourth century Roman Empire, under the leadership of Julian the Apostate – one bad president: 3.5 years in office – did this damage. That society turned around and the Catholic Church later flourished in it, but it didn’t happen overnight… If one does not use one’s vote to limit the evil in our nation, how will one go before God and explain that one could have used one’s vote to keep the worst candidate out of office AND DID NOT DO SO?” (End of St. Joan of Arc site quotes)
DUTIES OF THE CATHOLIC CITIZEN — Rt. Rev. John A. Ryan, 1947
(A Treasury of Catholic Thinking, compiled and edited by Ralph Woods, 1953)
“According to his abilities and opportunities, every Catholic must promote the welfare of the Church as a society in all its relations. All other members of the Church are his brothers in Christ. They are all organically united — members of a living body of which Christ is the Head. Therefore, the individual Catholic is obliged not merely to love his fellow Catholics as individuals but to further the welfare of the Christian brotherhood as such, as the supernatural body from which all derive their unity and spiritual goods and benefits…
“Every citizen has both the right and the duty to bring about the repeal of unjust legislation. A Catholic citizen would have the right and the duty to oppose any unjust laws aimed at the rights of the Church or of individual Catholics. Catholic citizens may properly appeal to legislators and to candidates for office, may threaten to vote against and actually vote against candidates who support legislation of this kind; but they do not need to organize themselves into a Catholic political party. Neither the Church as such nor the Catholic body as such should identify itself with or give its constant support to any partisan organization of a political character. This kind of political action the Holy Father has forbidden to Catholic Action. Nor should local Catholic bodies, such as a parish or a group of parishes, commit themselves to the general support of one political party rather than another. While such a course may sometimes seem to be beneficial, in the long run the advantages are more than offset by the disadvantages.
The Catholic citizen . . . is morally bound to make use of the electoral franchise. From the performance of this duty he can be excused only by a correspondingly grave inconvenience. Since public officials possess great power either to harm or to benefit the community, those who select them are charged with grave responsibility. The Catholic citizen is also obligated to vote intelligently and honestly. He does wrong when he casts his ballot for incompetent or corrupt candidates on the lazy assumption that their opponents are just as bad, or because he desires to put a friend or a fellow Catholic into office. Legal justice obliges the voter to exercise the franchise always for the common good, not for private advantage.
Finally, the Catholic citizen is morally bound to acquaint himself, as far as he reasonably can, with the merits of candidates and with the public policies which promote the common good. He should vote only for those candidates who understand and advocate the right policies in the halls of the legislature. Lawmakers need to possess something more than elementary honesty. They must know the measures that are best for the common welfare and must have the ability to advocate and the courage to fight for them. Therefore, the voter is under obligation to pay specific attention to these qualifications in making his choice among legislative candidates.
“The man to be elected should be the best man for the task, not necessarily the person with the finest character, or the most full of charity.” St. Thomas Aquinas ( ca.1270 )
All the above should sufficiently prove that Catholics have no choice but to vote for that person who presents the “lesser of two evils.” Our straits are more dire than any ever faced in history. If we fail to do our duty now, we not only fail Christ and disobey his Vicars, but we fail all our other brethren serving Our Lord as members of his Mystical Body on earth.
(See recent additions to Mr. Javier Morell-Ibarra’s Catholic Survival Handbook here.)
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A reader has brought a work to our attention that is a very good resource on voting and may be downloaded at https://archive.org/details/CatholicPrinciplesOnVoting Below we would like to comment on some of the content of this work.
Overall, it supports all the popes have taught on voting with some exceptions.
The author, Rev. Titus Cranny, notes on page 89: “It should be noted that while the Pope, bishops, and theologians have emphasized the importance of voting, they did so under different conditions. The Pope and the bishops generally stressed the obligation in times of crisis when there was danger of evil forces gaining control of the government, e.g., the elections in Italy in 1946 and in 1948, while the theologians considered the obligation as a function of the citizen in a republican state. Despite this difference the authority of the Pope and of the members of the hierarchy can be called upon to emphasize the need of voting in elections apart from unusual conditions, for good government is dependent upon the way the voters use their ballot. Moreover, some of the bishops, such as Cardinal Spellman and Archbishop McNicholas have pointed out the obligation of voting apart from any grave danger imminent at the time.”
Comment: This brings us to the sticking point of Pope Pius XII’s comment contested by certain readers: ”In these present circumstances…” regarding his 1948 statement on the elections in Italy. (And no, it is not a simple matter of sentence structure or holding a “right” to vote. Anyone claiming we have lost such a right must bring forth theological arguments to prove that this is the case, and they are not extant in Cranny’s work or anywhere else that I have found.) What we need to consider is what exactly were those circumstances in Italy in 1948.
Following the war, the Communists were aggressively attempting to gain a foothold in Italy and had successfully aroused popular sympathy for their party. Of course they openly opposed the Church and the clergy. Even though Pope Pius XII was not altogether in favor of the Christian Democrat party opposing the Communists, headed by Giovanni Montini’s father Giorgio, he urged Italians to vote against all Communist candidates to avoid the danger of Italy eventually being communized. Once Roncalli usurped the papal throne, the Christian Democrats formally aligned themselves with the left. But Pius XII did all he could to prevent that alignment during his papacy.
French Catholics in the late 1940s were advocating for a “Catholic-Communist rapprochement,” (which John 23/Roncalli would later achieve) and Catholic intellectuals were also sympathizing with the scientific approach to social problems advanced by the Communists (Portrait of Pius XII, 1957). This situation was truly a crisis and the pope’s voting address was followed by the Holy Office’s Decree on Communism in 1949. Everyone knows the strong stand taken by Pope Pius XII against Communism. My question here is, isn’t this exactly what we are facing today? In many respects Communism is already here, I realize that. But if we could possible delay it, retard it, or push it back even an inch, is not this precisely what Pope Pius XII would have wished us to do? This is NOT a normal election referred to by Cranny above but the very crisis he mentions as then existing in Italy. The phrase regarding the “circumstances” in Pius XII’s address does not limit or omit our obligation to vote but actually mandates it. Is it a last ditch effort? Probably. Are we bound to do it?
The best answer to this question was provided by Cardinal Hlond of Poland in 1946, as included in Cranny’s Appendix: “The deeper the changes which occur in the state, the greater the responsibility of its citizens for the direction of public life. The greater the difficulties of the state the stronger the effort that must be made for the common good. The greater the danger threatening the state the more earnest and conscientious must be the fulfillment of civic duties. The deeper and more widely the authority of the state enters human life and civil civic rights the more important it becomes that good competent trustworthy and really Christian men should exercise authority…
“Separating themselves from religion and the Church, modern states do not cease to interfere in purely religious matters. They lay down laws concerning the rights of the Church and the truths and dogmas of the faith and Christian morality entirely without knowledge of the Church and behind Her back. The Church is constantly injured in Her rights under the pretext of the separation of church and state. Under such conditions, elections for Catholics are all the more important. For it is not a matter of indifference to us whose hands will be entrusted our affairs with God, our religion and our Church. We live through a period of crucial changes while recognizing the importance and the necessity of political social and economic changes we consider that they can be carried out on the basis and with the limits of the natural law and the law of God preached by the Church.
“And although many things may and should change, God’s law must be respected. ‘In times when political life encroaches upon religious matter Catholics and all those who believe in God personified cannot let themselves be frightened and should realize their strength” — Pius XII, letter of January 1946. It is not a physical or armed strength, but Catholics should know that the Church possesses a splendid truth and aims which have great importance for the state when religious matters are so closely linked with political affairs. We have no intention of listening or breaking this link but we do not want this link to consist in the liberty of the states.”
So regardless of what the theologians state in Cranny’s work and especially in our present situation, we are safest in following the teachings of the pope. It is a rule of law that in a conflict of law, the higher law always prevails. St. Thomas also writes: “The first sin of our first parents, which sin was transmitted to all men was not disobedience as such but pride, from which the man proceeded to disobey…It is a greater duty to obey a higher than a lower authority, in sign of which the command of a lower authority is set aside if it be contrary to the command of a higher authority…The higher the person who commands, the more grievous it is to disobey him,” (Summa, Pt. II-II, Q. 105, Art.1 and 2, Rep. Obj. 3).
Is our current form of government legitimate?
“The Church recognizes any form of legitimate government, provided it is organized according to the laws and aimed at the achievement of the common welfare. It is the duty of Christians to vote in political and administrative elections, and the vote of everyone should be free and given according to his conscience. It is gravely unlawful for any of the faithful to give their votes to candidates, or lists of candidates, that are manifestly contrary to the Church.” (pg. 90) Also on page 90 of Rev. Cranny’s work: “If the election were interpreted as the recognition of a tyrannical form of government or an unlawful one there would be no obligation to vote. Indeed there would be an obligation of not voting.
“Tanquerey rightly points out that if a person were morally certain that his ballot would in no way affect the outcome of an election, he could refrain from voting for a slight cause although he adds it would be better to vote for some worthy candidate and thus give good example… “ Under his final conclusions on page 134, Cranny writes: “A citizen may be excused from voting if there is danger that his vote would bring physical or moral harm to himself or his family or if the voting would be considered an acknowledgement of a tyrannical or illegitimate form of government. If the obligation to vote is grave, only a grave reason will excuse. If the obligation to vote is slight, a slight reason will excuse.”
Comment: Currently, the Constitution and Bill of Rights still rules this form of American government just as it did during Pope Pius XII’s reign; it simply is not being enforced nor obeyed. The current president was most likely elected illegally, and it is his rule as president — and his party’s predominant rule, not the actual form of government itself as it was established and recognized by the Church — that is in question. Is rule by conservatives or moderates better? Only fractionally. And then only if it preserves our freedom to practice our religion, which is better than what this country is facing if the Progressives retain power. Catholics should remember that it behooves the enemies of religion to use their propaganda machines to instill deep fear in voters that America is not salvageable, but even if this is the case, the need is even greater to vote as Cardinal Hlond explains. And prayer for this country and a successful outcome may not even be heard because we do deserve tyranny as punishment for our many sins. But at least in fulfilling our duty, we will not add to these.
Cranny uses with approval the following statement from a booklet by the cardinals and bishops of France some years ago, Les principes catholiques d’action civique: “To the extent that the constitution of a state established the right of voting as a means of participating in the conduct of civil affairs the citizens, inasmuch as they are bound to use this right for the public good, should regard its existence as a matter of conscience. Therefore, they are obliged, first, to make use of this constitutional right, and secondly, to use it for the common good of all.” Our right to vote is established by the state, and although currently all is being done to control, misdirect and interfere with these rights, they are still legitimate rights.
Statements from the theologians
Summing up the teachings of the theologians on voting, Cranny writes: “From the statements of theologians it seems that the obligation of voting is grave ex genere suo, whose matter is important in itself but which admits of parvity of matter in individual cases. That is, in individual cases the matter may be light, and a person would commit a venial sin by not voting or by voting contrary to moral principles. We speak of parvity of matter, for just as the sin of theft is mortal ex genere suo, but admits of lightness of matter in some cases, so that all sins of theft are not mortal sins; so in voting, while the obligation is grave ex genere suo, still in individual cases there may not be a sufficiently grave reason for voting at this time or for this person, or contrary to the same, so that the obligation would be light and the sin committed would be venial because the matter would be light. However, a failure to take part in elections at all times or for a long time would be a serious sin, while failure to vote in an individual election (whose consequences are not grave) would be a venial sin. Those who vote for unworthy candidates in ordinary elections, all things being considered, sin venially. Such principles hold in national, state, county, and local elections.”
But regardless of what the theologians state in Cranny’s work and especially in our present situation, we are safest in following the teachings of the pope. It is a rule of law that in a conflict of law, the higher law always prevails. St. Thomas Aquinas also writes: “The first sin of our first parents, which sin was transmitted to all men was not disobedience as such but pride, from which the man proceeded to disobey…It is a greater duty to obey a higher than a lower authority, in sign of which the command of a lower authority is set aside if it be contrary to the command of a higher authority…The higher the person who commands, the more grievous it is to disobey him,” (Summa, Pt. II-II, Q. 105, Art.1 and 2, Rep. Obj. 3). And as the theologians Pohle and Preuss, echoing the popes on their ordinary magisterium so aptly put it in “The Sacraments, (Vol. IV): “It matters not what the private opinions of…theologians [are]. It is not the private opinions of theologians but the official decisions of the Church by which we must be guided.”