The framing of legislation “is inescapably the realm of prudential judgment, not intrinsic evil,” he contended in an act of intellectual legerdemain. “Thus, while a specific act of abortion is intrinsically evil, the formulation of individual laws regarding abortion is not.”
By the bishop’s logic, beating one’s wife would be evil, but pushing for the legalization of wife-beating would not.
“Like the issues of fighting poverty and addressing climate change, the issue of abortion in law and public policy is a realm where prudential judgment is essential and determinative,” he declared.
“Thus the assertion so frequently heard in many Catholic political conversations that the public policy dimensions of poverty and climate change are questions of prudential judgment, while the public policy dimensions of abortion and marriage are not, is simply false,” he proposed.
Because of this, despite Joe Biden’s full-bore support for taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, it is “morally legitimate for a Catholic, having integrated into his decision the teaching of the Church in its integrity and made his decision prayerfully out of a desire to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to conclude in conscience that he should vote to elect Vice President Biden,” McElroy concludes.
This week’s address was not the first time that Bishop McElroy has sought to downplay the importance of abortion.
Last February, the bishop
asserted that while abortion is a great evil, “the long-term death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity.”
Both abortion and climate change are “core life issues in the Catholic Church,” the bishop said during a public lecture at the University of San Diego. But neither should be identified as preeminent in 2020 since that would “inevitably be hijacked by partisan forces to propose that Catholics have an overriding duty to vote for candidates who espouse that position,” he said.
Bishop McElroy has never tried to conceal his odium toward President Donald Trump, and just one month after Trump’s inauguration, he called for resistance to the administration.
address to a Meeting of Popular Movements in February 2017, McElroy said that “President Trump was the candidate of disruption. He was the disrupter.”
“Well, now we must all become disrupters,” he said.
In November 2019, Bishop McElroy resisted efforts by the U.S. bishops to declare abortion to be the “preeminent” moral issue for Catholic voters.
At the annual bishops’ meeting, McElroy said he
disagreed with language singling out abortion as the “preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself,” saying it was contrary to the teaching of Pope Francis.
Bishop McElroy said the text was “discordant with the Pope’s teaching, if not inconsistent” despite the pope’s frequent condemnations of abortion.
“It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as a world in Catholic social teaching. It is not,” McElroy declared.
Then-Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput offered a rebuttal to Bishop McElroy, insisting that calling abortion the “preeminent priority” was not just correct but necessary, adding that this position represented no breach with Pope Francis.
“I am against anyone saying that our stating that [abortion] is preeminent is contrary to the teaching of the Pope because that isn’t true,” he said. “It sets up an artificial battle between the bishops’ conference of the United States and the Holy Father, which isn’t true.”
“I don’t like the argument Bishop McElroy used because it isn’t true,” he added, eliciting a round of applause from the bishops in the hall.