THE BLOG
11/15/2007 07:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Memo to U.S Catholic Bishops: Your Latest Ruling Means That Two Great Saints Could be Sizzling in Hell

They've done it again, folks.

In a resoundingly adopted statement called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citiizenship," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has just ruled that Catholics risk eternal damnation if they vote for any candidate who supports "an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism."

Your excellencies, let me remind you what Saint Thomas Aquinas -- one of the greatest saints in history of Catholicism -- said about prostitution.

First of all, he found it unequivocally evil because it violates natural law and fails to provide for the care of offspring. He called it a "sin committed directly against human life" and therefore a "mortal sin" binding the soul to spiritual death.

But guess what? He also thought civil authorities should tolerate it. And for backup on this point, he quotes another great saint -- Augustine.

"In human government," Aquinas writes, "those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain evils be incurred: thus Augustine says [De Ordine 2:4]: 'If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust.'" (SUMMA THEOLOGICA 2-2.10.11).

Unlike the bishops, Aquinas and Augustine both understood the difference between sin and crime, between divine law and human law. Since human law aims not to promote eternal salvation but to ensure temporal order, it cannot -- says Aquinas -- "forbid all vicious acts" (SUMMA THEOLOGICA 1-2.96.3).

So, your excellencies, are you ready to damn Augustine and Aquinas? Or would you rather try to see the difference between sin and crime?

To see that difference is also to see the difference between SUPPORTING a sinful act and OPPOSING THE CRIMINALIZATION of it. Do you believe we should criminalize divorce, adultery, idolatry, and the killing of innocent civilians -- including children -- in bombing attacks on our enemies? If not, may I infer that you support all of these things?

But if you don't support divorce, adultery, idolatry, and the killing of civilians in bombing raids, why do you claim that any politician who does not want to criminalize abortion "supports" it?

Fortunately, you stop short of telling Catholics that they WILL be damned if they don't follow your orders, and you don't threaten to excommunicate anyone. You leave God to judge each one of us.

So just what DID he do with Aquinas and Augustine?