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Joliet Diocese Peace and Justice Ministry Once Again Has Faithful Catholics Up In Arms: Director Tom Garlitz Claims Catholic Could Vote For "Pro-Choice" Candidates According To A "Well Formed Conscience"


9/22/2004 8:42:00 PM - CCI


Peace and Social Justice Ministry in the Diocese of Joliet is once again creating headlines with sensational public declarations that are contrary to Catholic teaching. Already this month they were forced to retract an endorsement of a voting guide that was so biased in favor of Democrat John Kerry and against George Bush, that pro-life organizations threatened to turn the Joliet Diocese in to the IRS. Proving himself to be no amateur dissenter, Peace and Social Justice Ministry Director Tom Garlitz wrote in a St. Petronille Church (Glen Ellyn, IL) bulletin on Sept. 19 that a Catholic could vote for "pro-choice" candidates according to a "well formed conscience." The article has been sharply criticized. The church pastor was not aware of the inclusion of the article in his bulletin until it was distributed at Mass over the weekend.


On Monday Sept. 20 and Tuesday Sept. 21, the article was posted to Peace Ministry's web site at However, by Weds. Sept. 22 the article had been taken down. "Some might call that "retracted," but as of the evening of Sept. 22, the Joliet Diocese has issued no clarification or apology to St. Petronelle's for the embarrassment caused by Garlitz's remarks. (9/23 Correction: Garlitz's comments were not removed, they were moved. Click on 'Faithful Citizenship, Statement and Parish Resources' and see "When is it a sin to vote?")


According to 'St. Pets' parishioners, "Our pastor was unaware of it until he saw it in the bulletin and has promised to clarify the church's position this coming Sunday." Though the article has since been removed from the Diocese of Joliet's web site, several angry Glen Ellyn Catholics viewed the dissenting comments of Garlitz as "a source of error and confusion for the undiscerning Catholic."


The complete text of Garlitz's comments from the bulletin are as follows"


"The following question was recently put to me. As this is a question many people are asking today, I post my answer here for your consideration.


'In a political election, am I morally prevented from voting for a candidate who is pro-choice, especially if there are candidates who are pro-life; even if I am in favor of the other policies promoted by the pro-choice candidate?'


"The short answer is a qualified no.


"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Secretary for the Vaticanís Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has written,

'A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidateís permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.'


"Simply put, if a Catholic thinks a candidate's positions on other issues outweigh the difference on abortion, a vote for that candidate would not be considered sinful.


"To elaborate further, one must take into consideration many factors when voting, such as the complexity of our political system - a process of ideals and strategies, the likelihood a candidate will actually have influence on a particular issue, regardless of his/her stance, or the immediacy of one issue as opposed to another, to name several.


"The bottom line for the Catholic voter is that he or she must decide for himself or herself, from a well-formed conscience, how best to engage the political process to promote and achieve the full range of Catholic values for the common good. (emphasis added) It is my belief that we will more quickly achieve a moral consensus against abortion in this nation when we stand with conviction for a consistent ethic of life as demonstrated in support of the total array of issues articulated in Catholic social thought and as expressed most recently in the USQCB statement, Faithful Citizenship. Such social policies enacted will reduce the number of abortions in the short term, and when we achieve moral consensus in the long-term, we will be able to make good and enforceable law to restrict and end abortion.


Tom Garlitz, Director of Peace and Social Justice Ministry, Diocese of Joliet


It's been a bad month for the Joliet Peace and Social Justice Ministry. For our coverage of their endorsement of a voter guide published by the dissenter group Catholic Action Network, along with a link to the notoriously anti-Bush voter guide, see Joliet Diocese Endorses John Kerry?.


For a list of phone numbers and contacts at the Joliet Diocese, see Joliet Admin.




Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved