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The Catholic Vote: A Guide for the Perplexed [Paperback]

By Clarke E. Cochran (Author) & David Carroll Cochran (Author)
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Item Number 98591  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   134
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.18" Width: 5.68" Height: 0.37"
Weight:   0.41 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2008
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570757429  
EAN  9781570757426  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The Catholic Vote is an accessible guide to issues Catholics should consider before going to the polls. Based on the Catholic values of life, dignity, solidarity, and proper stewardship, its five concise chapters describe 1) the importance of participating in the political life of a community, 2) the extent to which Catholic values influence Catholic voter choices, 3) the significant issues, 4) how to evaluate candidates for office, and 5) how the Catholic tradition can transform our political landscape. Issues covered include the economy, poverty, health care, family, crime, waging war, race and ethnicity, immigration, the environment, and protecting human life.

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More About Clarke E. Cochran & David Carroll Cochran

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Clarke E. Cochran is Vice-President of Mission Integration, at Covenant Health System, in Lubbock, Texas. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Texas Tech University, where he specializes in religion and politics, political philosophy, and health care policy. Dr. Cochran received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1971. He is the author of five books and numerous journal articles. He won the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Cochran held the position of Research Fellow in the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame (1998-1999) and the Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies at Nazareth College (Spring 2001). His current research interests include religious institutions and health care policy and Catholic social theory and health care reform.

Clarke E. Cochran currently resides in Lubbock, in the state of Texas. Clarke E. Cochran was born in 1945.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Inaccurate  Oct 8, 2008
This book goes beyond analysis of the political behavior of the Catholics and includes the authors own catechism of Catholic Social doctrine. Any faithful Catholic should be wary of any published work by the laity that attempts to catechize on any faith issue that does not include the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. The risk is that such a work does not correctly align with Catholic teaching, deviating from truth and leading Christians to error. This hazard is particularly high when the authors disagree with the Church on particular issues, which these authors confess. Furthermore, as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has pointed out in Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, "saying we're Catholic and then rejecting Catholic teaching is dishonest; it shows a lack of personal integrity" (Chaput, p. 225).

In Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions (USCCB, 1998), the bishops identified seven key themes of Catholic social teaching. These themes are reiterated in the National Directory for Catechesis (USCCB, 2005, p. 171) and Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (USCCB, 2007, p. 12). Unfortunately, these authors present a different summary set of topics: eight headings that summarize their own personal spin on Catholic social teaching, adding some, removing others, and revising the remaining ("solidarity" is the only one exactly in common). Doing so shapes Catholic social teaching to fit the authors' own partisan argument that "the Left follows Catholic principles more closely than do conservatives" (p. 17).

The authors make the scandalous claim that "Human life and dignity do not 'outrank' justice or the common good" (p. 10), but they cite no resources from the bishops to back that statement up (it, of course, doesn't exist). In fact, the book is void of citations despite repeated statements of "Catholic teaching is...". The authors never provide corresponding citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition, nor the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, nor any other Catholic authoritative source. Contrasting the opinion of these authors, Archbishop Chaput points out that Catholic social teaching is, in fact, a "hierarchy of truth" (Chaput, p. 209). At the pinnacle of importance is the preeminent political concern of protecting human life, which the bishops have called the "foundation" (Faithful Citizenship, no. 44; Living the Gospel of Life, 1988, no. 21) of all Catholic social teaching. In Faithful Citizenship (USCCB, 2007), the bishops use "preeminent" four separate times to describe the primacy of human life and dignity including specifying among policy goals that stopping abortion is a "preeminent requirement" (no. 90). Archbishop Chaput points out that "deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues" (Chaput, p. 211). The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004) defines the foundational nature of human life: "the first the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights" (Social Doctrine, no. 151).

The authors identify two Catholic organizations each from the "Right" and the "Left" political ideologies. To the Right they name Catholic Answers, an organization that regularly receives the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur for its published work, and Priests for Life, which has multiple members of the Magisterium on its advisory board. To the Left are mentioned the Network Lobby and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, neither of which have similarly approved documents or magisterial oversight. Unfortunately, as a demonstration of the authors' partisanship, they are only critical of the voting guide of Catholic Answers despite the fact that the voting guides from the Left commit two major errors: First, they treat abortion like any other social justice issue, something the bishops specifically condemn (Faithful Citizenship, no. 28). Second, these guides leave out protection of marriage, which the bishops specify as a policy goal (Faithful Citizenship, no. 90). Hence, Bishop Robert W. Finn has criticized the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good as having "its priorities backwards" (The Catholic Key, 10/03/2008). The Cochrans themselves commit the same errors. In the Chapter on a Catholic View of the Issues, the authors never once mention the preeminence of abortion. It is only far later in the book, buried in prose, do they mention that some issues are more important. However, they deliberately downplay abortion by only using the term "prominent", demeaning its real importance, as specified by the bishops, of being preeminent. On the marriage issue, they disagree with the bishops' policy goal (p. 59).

Perhaps the most dangerous error made by these authors is the framework in which to evaluate the candidates. First, they fail to discuss the prerequisite of forming one's conscience. Second, they fail to elaborate on the proportionality requirement when faced with a candidate that supports an intrinsic evil.

The authors state that "prudence is central to the dilemma of the faithful Catholic voter," (p. 94) but the bishops explain that prudence is only an aid "in the exercise of well-formed consciences" (Faithful Citizenship, no. 21). In fact, the Bishops emphasize that the faithful are equipped "to address political and social questions" through "a well-formed conscience" (Faithful Citizenship, nos. 17 & 18) and it precedes other activities. Never once do the authors mention this prerequisite. This is a critical omission since "this exercise of conscience begins with outright opposition to laws and other policies that violate human life or weaken its protection" (Faithful Citizenship, no. 31). Furthermore, since a conscience that is not in alignment with Church teaching is subject to error, the authors' own analysis of Catholic social teaching must be suspect.

While the authors do, in a single sentence, mention proportionality (p. 98) as it relates to choosing a candidate that supports an intrinsic evil, the authors do not clarify the significance of this definition. They hide the fact that the proportionality requirement would require "morally grave reasons" (Faithful Citizenship, no. 34) to support a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil such as abortion. Archbishop Chaput points out that "we sin if we support 'pro-choice' candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so - that is, a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn" (Chaput, p. 230). Abortion and euthanasia have such preeminence within Catholic social teaching, that "the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community" (USCCB, Living the Gospel of Life, no. 23). In fact, Bishop Robert Vasa stated that "when we have someone who has that stand on a disqualifying issue, then the other issues, in many ways, do not matter because they are already wrong on that absolutely fundamental issue" (Catholic Leadership Conference, 2008).

The only "perplexed" that this guide will help are those who are infatuated with a particular candidate and need Catholic social teaching to be re-arranged to justify their vote. For those with a well-formed conscience who are are seeking an accurate guidance in political decision-making and an understanding of the Church's policy goals, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is a third the length of this book and is prepared by those who have received the "munus docendi". For in depth detail, read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
MIsses the mark  May 6, 2008
This book really tries to be unbiased, but I'm afraid it misses the mark. Over and over, people are encouraged to use discernment to vote, but the authors make it clear that if there is one issue that a voter discerns to be of greatest moral value, then they are not faithful. The authors admit to struggling with the Catholic Church on issues of gender and sexuality, and I think Catholics who wish to form their consciences with true Catholic theology would be far better off getting their direction from sources who are not confused about Church teachings.
Try "Catholics in the Public Square" instead  Apr 3, 2008
The authors of this book take aim at the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" put out by the lay apostolate Catholic Answers: "While the Catholic Answer guide minimizes the role of prudence in its five 'non-negotiables,' on other issues it invokes prudence to set aside entire areas of Church teaching."

Yet in a March 2006 speech to European parliamentarians, Pope Benedict himself used the term "not negotiable" to describe Catholic responsibilities in the public square for three areas: (1) protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; (2) recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; and (3) the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These are virtually the same "not negotiable" areas identified by the Catholic Answers guide.

Pope Benedict again used the term "not negotiable" in reference to these three areas in the apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," released in the spring of 2007. So by denigrating this term, the authors run the risk of trying to be "more Catholic than the Pope."

For a faithful guide that is true to the authoritative teachings of the Church's Magisterium, or teaching office, try Bishop Thomas Olmsted's short Q&A book Catholics In The Public Square.
The book that should be in all parishes, in the U.S.  Mar 19, 2008
"The Catholic Vote, A Guide for the Perplexed," is a book that requires the reader to be prudent about using Catholic Social Teachings when evaluating who to vote for. This is a surprising read, which will cause one to review what the Church teaches in the area of voting. It makes one think outside of the Democrat and Republican mold. If one wishes to just get the bare-bones of this book read chapter 4 and chapter 5. Enjoy.
At last - an even-handed guide!!!  Mar 9, 2008
I am a high school theology teacher who has long been looking for a Catholic (as opposed to Republican or Democratic) examination of the Church's teachings on citizenship and a thoughtful analysis of how to apply those teachings to the real world. Yes, I've read the U.S. Bishops letter on "faithful citizenship," but it reads like what it is - the product of a committee. Clarke & David Cochran's "The Catholic Vote" is, by far, the most balanced guide I've encountered.
If you want a screed, Catholic Answers puts out a voter's guide that probably should be paid for by the Republican Party. They list five "non-negotiables" - five intrinsic evils - that should determine how one votes, they claim. Conveniently, all five are part of the traditional Republican platform. All the rest of the issues are dismissed as being "prudential judgments." This might sound good at first examination, but why did they pick just those five? Torture is an intrinsic evil, but that's not mentioned.
As the Cochran book says, "While the Catholic Answer guide minimizes the role of prudence in its five 'non-negotiables,' on other issues it invokes prudence to set aside entire areas of Church teaching."
If you're a good Catholic who doesn't want to be a shill for either party (I'm a registered Independent, BTW), this is the book to read.

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