BALTIMORE (ChurchMilitant.com) - Baltimore's Abp. William Lori isn't mentioning the word abortion when giving direction to U.S. voters.
In an op-ed published Friday in the archdiocese's mouthpiece, the Catholic Review, Lori's guidance did begin with attacks on society's "most vulnerable," which pro-lifers would understand to mean unborn babies who were slaughtered in the womb.
"In casting our vote, we need to think first of those who do not have a fighting chance, those who have no voice, those who are utterly vulnerable and defenseless," wrote Lori.
Voters, furthermore, must answer some basic questions before voting, instructed the archbishop: "Let us ask ourselves, who are the most vulnerable members of our society? Who has no one to speak for them but us? How will the stated policies of each candidate play out in their regard?"
While Lori refuses to spell out the word abortion, the firebrand priest from Wisconsin, Fr. James Altman, has no qualms about naming the evil of abortion. He even went so far as to tell Church Militant how prenatal murder ranks highest amongst the other evils confronting U.S. voters.
"All the evils in the world combined do not add up to the single greatest evil, which is the killing of our babies, the innocent babies in the womb," declared Altman.
The archbishop seemingly addressed the topic of abortion under the principle of "human dignity" before going on to discuss the other "three principles of Catholic social teaching" namely, "the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity."
It was the principle of human dignity, however, which he called "the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching."
"It holds that every person has inviolable, God-given dignity and worth from the moment of conception until natural death," explained the archbishop.
He cited former vice president Hubert Humphrey to sum up this principle: "'The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.'"
He also urged Catholics to read "in its entirety" the U.S. bishops' official voters guideline titled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." During its November assembly in 2019, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) updated its guidance with an introductory letter that listed abortion as the "preeminent priority" for U.S. voters.
"The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed," the letter reads.
Various moral issues such as "racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty" were secondary issues, according to the majority of U.S. bishops who labeled them as "other serious threats to human life and dignity."
Lori incorporated these secondary social justice issues under "the principle of the common good," which looks at "society as a whole." In this category, Lori bunched a candidate's policy on war, the economy and environmental issues.
The Catholic Church teaches, however, that abortion is an intrinsically evil act and is therefore always wrong. But the so-called social justice issues contain policies on how to best handle such problems as immigration, poverty, war and the environment. As such, Catholics are at liberty to debate how to properly address these issues.
In 2004, one year before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, related this very fact:
If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. ... There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty.
But Lori fails to contrast the intrinsic evils of abortion, contraception and euthanasia with such popular social justice causes as poverty or illegal immigration. He fails to even use the word abortion at all. He fails to morally weigh for voters against other social issues the millions of innocent human beings slain each year by abortion — more than 61 million in the United States since Roe v. Wade legalized the practice.
One member of Lori's diocese who reached out to Church Militant concerning the guidance was not happy.
"I was EXTREMELY disappointed [with] what was said in this article," wrote the person who wished to remain anonymous, owing to his sensitive position within the archdiocese.
Altman, however, was not so reticent. He denounced the so-called "seamless garment" that places intrinsic evils like abortion on the same moral footing as social justice issues like the environment. He told Church Militant this approach, being used by pro-Marxist Churchmen and politicians, represents a false proposition and constitutes "grave error."
"There simply is no equating all these other minor evils with the intrinsic evil of abortion," affirmed Altman.