Bernie SandersCAN A CATHOLIC VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS? That question has been bouncing around on the Internet recently, with no clear consensus emerging.

Marc Barnes says yes, albeit dejectedly. Barnes explores the issues in some depth on his Bad Catholic blog and concludes:

“…while Bernie is far from brilliant, he lines up with Catholic teaching in quite a few ways. He may not be the right vote for a particular Catholic, but, at least according to the Bishops, he is not excluded a priori as a viable candidate on the basis of his support for abortion. As politicians on either side of the party divide get more and more comfortable with their support for intrinsic evils, we should probably get used to the idea that no Catholic is going to be able to vote comfortably, easily, or happily for a long, long time.”

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has been asked the question and has reluctantly reached the same conclusion.  You could vote for Sanders, Father Longenecker concludes,

“…if someone even worse than Sanders were his opponent–someone who supported abortion AND torture AND indiscriminate bombing of civilians AND indiscriminate deportation of immigrants– (like Trump) then a vote for Sanders could be the lesser of two evils.”

Rachel Lu offers a clear perspective in Crisis Magazine, glancing at Mark Shea’s “disastrous scenario in which we are forced to choose between two terrible candidates, both of whom have an obvious taste for authoritarian rule and a decades-long history of supporting abortion” then moving on to discuss the articles by Fr. Longenecker and Charles Camosy.  Lu ultimately concludes “No” to a Sanders vote. “Time to extinguish the flame, Sanders supporters,” she says. “The options may seem grim, but Bernie is not our man.”

Myself, I’ve ignored Sanders, holding suspect his radical socialist, Robin Hood-esque economic policies and abhorring his callous disregard for unborn human life. To my thinking, the Democratic party has become the Party of Death; and a vote for a Democratic candidate because you feel it might benefit you financially (a questionable conclusion, in any case) is a blatant rejection of Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of life. Until Roe v. Wade is overturned, until we have a pro-life majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, that conspicuous “D” after a candidate’s name renders him unacceptable, in my opinion.

And I’m not alone; I find support for my view in EWTN’s Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters:

This is because being pro-abortion cannot simply be placed alongside the candidate’s other positions on Medicare and unemployment, for example; and this is because abortion is intrinsically evil and cannot be morally justified for any reason or set of circumstances.

But okay. Others may, as Father Dwight outlines in his post, find reason to support Sanders’ bid for the presidency. In any case, we should all take seriously the responsibility to inform ourselves about the positions of candidates of both parties on matters of morality and social import.

With that in mind, I wanted to inform you of the upcoming interview with Bernie Sanders by Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation. Father Rosica interviewed Senator Sanders in September 2015, and that interview will be broadcast this evening, February 23, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time (5:30 p.m. Pacific). The full interview will be available on-line via the Salt + Light TV channel at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Following is the statement by Salt + Light TV concerning the interview, which specifically takes issue with some of Sanders’ political positions.

Statement concerning our WITNESS Interview with Senator Bernie Sanders

Premieres: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, in his role as CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Executive Producer and Host of the WITNESS Program, interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders in his offices on Capitol Hill on September 21, 2015 on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States. The interview also contains scenes and excerpts of Senator Sanders addressing the US Senate, as well as Pope Francis speaking at the White House, St. Matthew’s Cathedral and during the Special Session of Congress later that historic week in September.

The views expressed by Senator Sanders in this exclusive WITNESS Interview are his own and do not reflect the views of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation nor its related Television Network. Salt and Light does not endorse Senator Sanders or any other Democrat, Republican or Independent US presidential candidate. We are aware that certain views held by Senator Sanders oppose the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic media foundation, Salt and Light does not share these views, denounces his positions as such, but recognizes the Senator’s right to hold them. We recognize that respectful and charitable dialogue, especially with those who fundamentally disagree with certain or all aspects of the Church’s teachings, is the appropriate Christian approach in dealing with complex social and political issues. This is the approach Pope Francis clearly articulated on the occasion of his meeting with the Bishops of the United States of America in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 2015, where he said:

“The path ahead is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly. The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it. Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue. Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain. Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.”

Pope Francis has continuously advocated this approach, especially in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy currently being celebrated throughout the Church and the world. In his 2016 Message for the 50th World Communications Day he wrote:

“Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society. How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony. Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples. This is possible both in the material world and the digital world. Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred. The words of Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”

Salt and Light Catholic Television Network extends an open invitation to all other US presidential candidates of all parties for an interview to discuss their views relating to the Catholic Church and the teachings of Pope Francis.

Image:  By AFGE (AFGE Participates in #StopFastTrack Rallies) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons