State Council News


Posted Aug 19, 2016
by Mark

By Tim Von Dohlen, PSD

I am writing an opinion piece on the very difficult task of offering guidance on determining how to vote.

 I am doing this considering (1) the moral teaching of the Catholic Church; (2) the development of a well formed conscience and applicable human virtues; (3) the belief that there are “intrinsic evils” that should never be followed and candidates who support one or more should not receive your vote; (4) the USCCB document Faithful Citizenship and (5) more than 50 years of personal experience active in politics including elective office while being a practicing Catholic.

This article is too lengthy for the available space in the Texas Knight so the entire article is on the Texas State Council website at ; May God be with you in your discernment.

I am a concerned father of 3 and grandfather of 16.  I am afraid for their future.  I am afraid for the future of America.  I write to you from my heart.  We are in trouble as a country.  If we continue on the current path, we may not have a country in many years.  I recently watched a documentary on the start of WWII.  The thing that stood out the most was how America’s leaders and the average citizen were unaware or unbelieving of war preparations by Japan and Germany.  Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, believed the war was to wipe out Christian civilization.  History is repeating itself, just different countries with sophisticated technology and an internal threat to transform America to no longer be a Judeo Christian nation. 

My prayer for each reader of this article is that you become awakened to what is happening in America and, if you are already awakened let this article be the impetus to get you to awaken others.  Become informed and VOTE in November.  Just a few of the issues at stake are (1) appointments of judges to the U.S. Supreme Court (from 1-4 judges) that will chart the direction of America for decades to come, (2) will America return to being a leader in the world or continue to equivocate, (3) will we have a strong military that can protect the homeland and (4) will we return to a respect for the dignity and protection of human life?  These issues are too important for you not to vote.


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has every four years for decades been issuing a book Faithful Citizenship which addresses considerations to be made to determine how to vote.  The most recent edition is entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.  As a Catholic, it is important to study and consider this document.  I use the book to set out the USCCB Catholic position in italicized text with page number.  Portions of the italicized text are underlined for added emphasis.  My position is expressed in regular and bold text.  I believe the positions I take are supported by the USCCB document.  Some people have taken a few paragraphs to read into them a way to vote for anyone even someone who champions intrinsic evil.

Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote.  We are guided by a well formed conscience and Catholic moral teaching that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.  Take into account a candidate’s philosophy, commitments, character, integrity, ability to influence a given issue and performance (pg. 15).

It is important to be clear that political choices faced by citizens may affect the individual’s salvation (pg.16).  That means failing to properly form your conscience or voting for a candidate whom you know champions intrinsic evil places the salvation of your soul at risk.

The Four Foundational Principles of Basic Catholic Social Teaching are: (1) dignity of the human person; (2) the common good; (3) subsidiarity and (4) solidarity.  Taken together, these principles provide a moral framework for Catholic engagement in advancing what we have called elsewhere a "consistent ethic of life" (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 22). Rightly understood, this ethic does not treat all issues as morally equivalent nor does it reduce Catholic teaching to one or two issues. It anchors the Catholic commitment to defend human life, from conception until natural death, in the fundamental moral obligation to respect the dignity of every person as a child of God.  It unites us as a "people of life and for life" pledged to build what St. John Paul II called a "culture of life". This culture of life begins with the preeminent obligation to protect innocent life from direct attack and extends to defending life whenever it is threatened or diminished (pg. 17).

Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or in any condition. In our society, human life is especially under direct attack from abortion, which some political actors mischaracterize as an issue of "women's health” (pg. 18).

Participation in political life in light of fundamental moral principles is an essential duty for every Catholic and all people of good will.  The Church is involved in the political process but is not partisan. Our cause is the defense of human life and dignity and the protection of the weak and vulnerable (pg. 24).  We cannot compromise basic principles or moral teaching (pg. 25).  The Church’s cause cannot be ignored because of party affiliation or family history.  When a candidate supports abortion and also supports helping the poor, life is the controlling issue.

The Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, but some in our culture see this as unjust and opposed to basic human rights. This position is a form of moral relativism joined to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals (pg. 9).  Moral relativism promotes that there are no absolute truths – none from God and not the Ten Commandments.  It promotes if it feels good do it.


Conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil. pg. 10).

The elements in formation of conscience are:

(1) desire to embrace goodness and truth;

(2) seek the truth reading Scripture and teaching of the Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;

(3) examine the facts and background information about various choices;

(4) prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God.

Catholics must understand if they fail to form their consciences in the light of the truths of the faith and the moral teachings of the Church they can make erroneous judgments (pg. 10).

Erroneous judgment can put one’s soul at risk through mortal sin.

Some things we must never do as individuals or as a society.  These are called "intrinsically evil" actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned -  abortion, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, assisted suicide and other acts that directly violate the sanctity and dignity of human life (pg. 11).

It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed (pg. 11).

There are temptations in public life that can distort the Church's defense of human life and dignity:

(1)  moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.

(2)  misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity (pg. 13).

This exercise of conscience begins with outright opposition to laws and other policies that violate human life or weaken its protection. Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil (pg. 14). 

When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma.  The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.  

The greatest social justice issue is the protection of the unborn and the dignity of the human person.  The tug of war ongoing inside the Catholic Church is on social justice issues – protection of the unborn vs providing for the poor – and is used by so called “progressive” politicians to provide for the poor as the carrot to win the support of Catholics looking for a way to justify their vote for a person who supports, even gives leadership, to advance Planned Parenthood or other pro-abortion causes.  They attempt to equate the life issue with care for the poor.  This cannot be justified. 

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, said in Life News, “The US bishops’ document, 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,' created confusion when it stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of 'other grave reasons,' as long as they do not intend to support that pro-abortion position.  This is a kind of false thinking”.

For a voter to tell himself or herself that the voter does not support the candidate’s pro-abortion position but votes for him or her anyway is wrong, and the voter participates in the intrinsic evil.  

When a candidate or voter says I personally oppose abortion, but I believe in each individual’s right to choose, or says I will follow the court’s decision, this is not acceptable and is another way of trying to appease one’s conscience to feel better.  As it is said, a law that violates God’s law is no law at all.

It is important to read all party platforms to see what the party stands for.  Candidates take a pledge to support the platform.

Sometimes morally flawed laws already exist. In this situation, the process of framing legislation to protect life is subject to prudential judgment and "the art of the possible."  In this circumstance incremental improvements in the law are acceptable.  Catholics must never abandon the moral requirement to seek full protection for all human life from the moment of conception to natural death (pg. 14).

The US government program called the Global Health Initiative is a program that over the last 8 years has spent billions of dollars on family planning (contraception) as a precondition to getting American financial aid for a foreign country.  This has enraged the residents of foreign countries against America because the husband and wife could not have children as they desired.  Is there any question why people in many countries despise America?’

This is the most important election in the history of America because there have been so many actions by the current administration and rulings by the Supreme Court that are fundamentally changing America.  That is why your vote is so important in the November election. 

The reader needs to know some things about the author of this article.  I believe family is the essential building block of America.  The family is being torn apart.  I am a pharmacist and an attorney.   I was State Deputy of the Texas State Council Knights of Columbus 1981 to 1983 and a member of the Supreme Council Board of Directors from 1988 to 1990.  I served 14 years in the Texas House of Representatives from 1971 to 1983 and again from 1991 to 1993 as a Conservative Democrat.  After leaving the Legislature and primarily because of the Democratic Party’s move to actively promote abortion, I changed to become a Republican.  I am a Co-Founder of the St. John Paul II Life Center in Austin, Texas, which has as its goals to save babies lives and promote the dignity of life for women and all human life.  It is not my intention to tell you for whom to vote but to offer you guidance on how to properly form your conscience.  Then select for whom to vote.  Party is not as important as principle.

May you rejoice in HOPE, endure in Affliction and persevere in PRAYER.  Romans 12:12

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