Fr. Z comments on Archbisop Burke’s address. The whole thing is worth it, but I want to highlight:
23. An important part of our moral reflection must include a clear understanding of the principles regarding cooperation in evil, especially by the act of voting. Too often, in our time, our inability to accomplish all that we should for the sake of the defense of the right to life and of the protection of the integrity of the family is used to justify the direct choice of a political leader who espouses a position or positions in violation of the natural moral law. The Servant of God Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, addresses at length the question of cooperation in evil which violates the dignity of innocent human life. He offers as an example the case of a legislator who has the possibility of voting for a law which would restrict the evil of procured abortion, even though it would not eradicate it completely. He concludes that the legislator could vote for the legislation, while his own opposition to procured abortion remains clear, for his vote does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects (Pope John Paul II, Encylical Letter Evangelium vitae , On the Good and Inviolability of Human Life, 25 March 1995, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 87 , 487, no. 73).
In an analogous manner, as voters, we are often faced with a choice among candidates who do not fully oppose unjust laws. In such a case, we must choose the candidate who will most limit the evil effects of unjust laws. But, there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, which a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the unborn, euthanasia or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as a legal marriage. The respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the integrity of marriage and the family are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good it may be.
As you can guess, this was met with poo-pooing about how RvW will never be overturned and we might as well get used to it and natural law arguments are bogus. A poster named “michigancatholic” bats that grapefruit out of the park:
Natural law applies to all living beings, even those too ignorant or deluded (or just plain stupid) to realize it. Never forget that. What is, is.
The ignorant need to be educated. The evil (and stupid) need to be bound by the rule of law in accord with natural law. Putative law that violates natural law is no law at all. Rather, it is flawed by impediments of the most original sort. It’s mere injunction by force. You’d ought to know that.
For instance, if a law were passed that said that I should fly Icarus-like to work every morning (on my own steam) to save energy, votes could be tallied and sentences could be written. The president could applaud it to the skies. But would it make flying on my own steam possible? No. Of course not. It’s always possible to enact things that are truly idiotic because they’re in violation with natural law. This is because there are always people who are utterly clueless about natural law. It’s a sort of monumental organic stupidity to which people in large groups with grand aspirations are prone to. Call it a cosmetically engineered veneer. Pseudo-progress at it’s finest.
However, this phenomenal sort of stupidity, even at its grandest, still doesn’t make natural law impotent. Natural law is always still there, underneath everything. What is, is, regardless of what anyone might say about it. I will not fly using my own arms anytime soon, just as abortion will not be morally right anytime soon (or ever). So, balthasar, restrain your pessimism—it’s unbecoming, short-sighted and makes you look like someone who hasn’t looked in the mirror at their own humanity in 20 years.
It’s an immemorial feature of existence: Natural law always wins. Don’t be caught on the wrong side or you will suffer, sooner or later… The longer it takes the harder the hammer falls. That’s how it is and always will be, like it or not.
PS, I’m a scientist and I’m well aware that most people think science is what it is not. Science tells you how (always within the scope of natural law), not why. Why is the business of revelation. Natural law is the business of normalization and enforcement of the rules of existence. You defy it at your peril. It’s stronger than anything you’ve ever known and you don’t want to mess with it. It doesn’t “dialogue.” It’s mean and kind all at once and you have no control over it. Rather, it regulates YOU.