Priest Says Catholics Can Back John Kerry, Pro-Life Advocates Disagree

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Priest Says Catholics Can Back John Kerry, Pro-Life Advocates Disagree

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 10, 2004

New York, NY ( — A Catholic priest wrote an editorial column today saying Catholics can remain faithful to church teaching and still vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry.

However, the claim is drawing criticism from others who say that Kerry runs afoul of the church’s position on important issues that affect human life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research.

Father Andrew Greeley, also a New York Daily News columnist, says "Catholics can vote for Kerry" and "it would not be a sin to do so."

To substantiate his position, Greeley cites Joseph Ratzinger, a Vatican Cardinal.

Ratzinger says Catholic voters "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil" if they voted for a candidate because he actively supports abortion or euthanasia. However, if supporting a pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia candidate because of his stance on other political issues, "it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

To Greeley, that means Catholics "may vote for Kerry ‘for other reasons’ so long as they are not supporting him merely for his pro-choice stance."

But to Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, the question is not whether Catholics can vote for pro-abortion candidates — but whether they should.

"Ultimately, whether a candidate’s support for abortion disqualifies him or her from public office depends not on what a Vatican Cardinal says about it, but rather on what abortion is — and there’s the problem," Pavone told

"Neither Mr. Kerry nor Fr. Greeley care to describe the procedure in all its graphic detail," Pavone observes. "Perhaps they know that if they were to do so, the political implications would not favor them."

While Catholic voters will decide whether to support Kerry or vote for President Bush, many Catholics have already said they likely won’t support the Massachusetts senator because of issues like abortion.

A Zogby International poll of 1,388 Catholics conducted in May shows the likely Democratic presidential nominee getting the support of only 20% of Catholic voters on issues where he disagrees with the position of the church.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who would appoint only judicial nominees who backed the Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion. Only 16 percent said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.