ABORTION: The intentional and direct killing of an unborn (pre-born) human person. Abortion is one of several intrinsic evils identified by the Church and known thought reason and the natural moral law.

THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE:  “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that his is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed”  (CCC, 1778)

FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCY:  refers to a failure to make “ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity” (FCFC, No 28)

(USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, http://www.usccb.org/about/doctrine/ethical-andreligious-directives/upload/ethical-religious-directives-catholic-health-service-sixth-edition2016-06.pdf,  24)

INTRINSIC EVILS: acts which are in themselves evil in their object of choice. Acts which are morally evil in and of themselves and therefore always wrong.  Examples: abortion, euthanasia, same-sex “marriage,” adultery.

MATTERS OF PRUDENTIAL JUDGMENT: pertains to non-intrinsically evil issues on which Catholics can have a legitimate diversity of opinion. Examples: taxation, economic, foreign trade, health care, and immigration policies.

REMOTE MATERIAL COOPERATOR: the cooperator does not intend the evil act of the principle agent, but Nevertheless provides some type of remote assistance to the evildoer. In order for remote material cooperation to be morally permissible, a proportionate reason for cooperation is required to be present and one must do his best to avoid scandalizing others. Example: a Catholic voter disagrees with the immoral, intrinsically evil positions of both candidates in question but votes for one of the two candidates because he poses the least risk to human life and, at the same time, is most likely to advance some morally good policies. It is assumed there is reasonable certainty that one of the two candidates will be elected. The Catholic would also explain why his voting choice is morally permissible to others in order to avoid scandal, should they be aware of his vote.

PROPORTIONATE REASON: sometimes called “sufficient reason.” Not to be confused with proportionalism, which is a morally illicit system of ethics that disregards the moral nature of concrete acts. Proportionate reason refers to a kind of “counterbalance” to the foreseen evil that will occur through unintended cooperation with the principle agent. Proportionate reason means a good is achieved that outweighs the foreseen and unintended evil, or a greater evil is avoided in comparison to the lesser evil that is unintentionally permitted. Factors to be considered alongside proportionate reason are proximity, the gravity of the foreseen evil, the essentialness of the cooperation, alternative courses of action reasonably available, and other prudential judgments.

Catholic Online

Catholic Online New Jerusalem Bible

Catholic Encyclopedia



Abort73.com. “U.S. Abortion Statistics.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994.
NRL News Today. “Abortion Statistics: United States Data and Trends.”

USCCB. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. https://www.usccb.org/resources/formingconsciences-faithful-citizenship-pdf