A certain Catholic Voice has recently participated in multiple conversations on various blogs regarding the Incrementalist vs Solidaritist positions [the Finnis vs Harte issue] regarding the meaning of article 73 of the Papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae
Now these arguments involve Blessed John Paul II's inability to be
technically precise when dealing with moral theological precepts and his
existentialist habit of appealing to a moral dialectic where he would
make two apparently contradictory statements from which a synthesised
conclusion must be deduced or discerned; and a practical application
Evangelium Vitae 73.2
In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a
law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it,
or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote
...forbids us from engaging in
collaboration with legislation endorsing, advocating, promoting or
furthering the culture of death - as these actions are intrinsically
BUT EV 73:3
A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases
where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more
restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place
of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are
not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there
continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported
by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those
which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive
legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case
like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely
abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition
to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at
limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences
at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact
represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate
and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.
...permits the use of every available moral means
to diminish the negative affect of that legislation - even if it
doesn't result in an absolute ban.
Now here's the crux : What is a moral means?
voting for an abortion-limit reduction which intrinsically allows
early-term abortions - or exceptions or compromises [e.g. rape,incest,
disability,health of mother] an acceptable [73.3] or an unacceptable
[73.2] form of co-operation?
John Finnis argues by 73.3 a defence
of the action saying voting is permissible as the situation is merely
unjust - therefore restrictive voting is merely remote material
co-operation - one is only responsible for the actual reduction involved
in the legislation - and not responsible for anything else immoral
Colin Harte argues by 73.2 that such a scenario is
intrinsically unjust and therefore co-operation is either formal or at
least [forbidden] proximate material. One IS responsible for what one
puts one's name to - collaboration in the passing of a bill which
reneges on the principle of solidarity [i.e. one where lives of
differing worths/dignities are traded/negotiated] is always gravely
Who is right?
Well that's the fight!
Incrementalists say Finnis with his half loaf - any life which can be saved must be saved - paradigm - MUST be right.
Solidaritists [and I'm one of them] argue that the only way forward is the truly
moral principle of no exception: no compromise]
Who is right?
Who says so?
this is an issue upon which the Vatican has not spoken and is therefore
open to [as the CVeebies love to appeal to] Prudential Judgment?
Because His Holiness Benedict XVI while Cardinal at the CDF has filled this loophole and given a direct answer on the issue,
CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION
TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS [2004 CDF]
legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is
already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways
that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty
to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law
completely, the Catholic politician,
[here it comes - a direct precedential appeal]
the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae,
“could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such
a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of
general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute
personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the
danger of scandal was avoided.(18)...[citing EV 73.3]
This DOES NOT MEAN that a MORE RESTRICTIVE LAW in this area could be considered JUST OR EVEN ACCEPTABLE; [alluding to EV73.2]
[This is the most crucial point - Moral Means DO NOT INCLUDE Restrictive Legislation.
Restrictive legislation is here being prohibited - any other means to
diminish the gravity of the unjust situation is permissible - i.e.
partial repeals - but not restrictive legislation [i.e. that which
intrinsically endorses an aspect of it within its legislation]
repeals are of course acceptable - but they must not be within a
legislative bill which continues to endorse an action. Irrespective of
the ostensible benefits...]
...rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt [i.e. USING MORAL MEANS - P.] to
obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total
abrogation is not possible at the moment.
So Finnis is wrong regarding restrictive legislation [which is not acceptable]
Who says so?
The Incrementalist position of negotiating/compromising/allowing exceptions via restrictive legislation is hereby being forbidden as Unjust & Unacceptable.
Now here's the Crunch:
A Catholic Voice blogger has today blogged [together with commenting on two more blogs]
citing Evangelium Vitae 73.3...
...WHILE DELIBERATELY EXCISING 73.2!!!
...Using this edited [and therefore completely misrepresentative] version to justify their Incrementalist position that it is perfectly acceptable and justifiable to co-operate with Restrictive legislation - i.e. it's OK to endorse abortion at a reduced limit!!!
This is on an ethical par with citing the Bible as "Thou Shalt [cough!] Bear False Witness"!!!
With 'friends' like these? Satan can buy Suntan lotion, a surfboard and a giant book of Sudoku....