'It's Hard Work': Reflections on Conscience and Citizenship in the Catholic Tradition
Journal Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 47, pp. 317-342, 2008
27 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2008
Which voter's guide gives the most reliable account of Catholic social teaching? The first part of this essay compares Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the document issued by the United States Bishops' Conference in November 2007, with the Catholic Action Answers' Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics. It argues that Serious Catholics fails to captures the tradition's nuanced intersection between moral values and their practical implementation in the sphere of politics; and that Forming Consciences serves as a more complete and helpful guide for Catholic voters. The essay then focuses on the Forming Consciences discussion of the concept of "intrinsic evil." Exploring the questions that arise when this concept is placed at the core of an analysis of political responsibility, it considers the extent to which this structure leaves enough space to give due priority to address socio-economic maladies that would not fall within the definition of intrinsic evil. Then essay concludes with an acknowledgment of the need for an emphatic expression of Catholic social teaching and values in public life, and queries whether the intrinsic evil framework may be reconciled with effort toward fruitful and constructive dialogue about the role of religious values in a pluralistic democracy.
Keywords: 2008 Presidential Election, Catholic social teaching, voting, conscience, Roman Catholic Church, intrinsic evil, non-negotiable, moral theology, politics, prudence, cooperation with evil, Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, economic justice, prophecy, casuistry, abortion, torture, faithful citize
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