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« Non-Catholics & Cremation | Main | Amazing Lunar Discoveries!!! »

August 25, 2005

Comments

Steven D. Greydanus

Great post Jimmy. This is why God created JimmyAkin.org.

Brad Haas

My whois says Jimmy Akin created JimmyAkin.org.

KristyB

Jimmy, how often do your wrists hurt from typing so much? Or are you just that good that you no longer feel the effects ;).

Great response.

Jimmy Akin

Brad: Steve's playing on a phrase I often use. I regularly attribute directly to divine agency the creation of things that were produced by secondary causation. (E.g., "And that's why God created cellphones," "And that's why God created the Internet," etc.)

KristyB: Amazingly, I've never developed carpal tunnel syndrome. I thought I would have years ago. I just wish I didn't make so many typos.

Delance

There are different levels of evil. One thing is to sell abortion pills, another to sell condoms. If a merchant is to avoid all things evil, he will go out of business. The particulary evil stuff can be avoided, of course. But most things, like condoms, are a matter of personal choice. Abortion is evil on a totally different way.

I think a lot of the decision depends on whether the action is a fundamental and essential part of the job function. Scanning these goods at a grocery store is not. Scanning them at an adult book store would be.

BillyHW

Couldn't they have picked a better word than "remote". To non-theologians the word "remote" can sound an awful lot like "it's a-okay".

Brad: Steve's playing on a phrase I often use. I regularly attribute directly to divine agency the creation of things that were produced by secondary causation. (E.g., "And that's why God created cellphones," "And that's why God created the Internet," etc.)

And that's why God created comboxes.

But most things, like condoms, are a matter of personal choice. Abortion is evil on a totally different way.

You are underestimating the evil of condom use. Condoms can give people a false sense of security and encourage them to engage in sex outside of marriage when the couple is not prepared for the responsibilities of child rearing. If the condom slips off, conception can occur and then the temptation to go back to the store to purchase an abortion pill can be very powerful.

Brad Haas

Brad: Steve's playing on a phrase I often use. I regularly attribute directly to divine agency the creation of things that were produced by secondary causation. (E.g., "And that's why God created cellphones," "And that's why God created the Internet," etc.)

And that's why God created reading retention. Somehow that slipped by me. :( It'd be funny if "God" were the registrant for a domain name, though.

M.Z. Forrest

You can also do the bicoastal trend and move to the midwest or the south.

The one area where I would disagree is scope. Entry level workers have faced this for a long time. Lotteries, booze for alcoholics, smut, you name it. (I'm aware of the Church teachings on gaming. When I was working at that level, I was dealing with people who could not afford it.) Professionals are seeing this more and more. In Wisconsin at least 3 pharmacists have been investigated and had their licenses threatened over B.C. pills. I understand that nurses are having more issues as well. Other professionals are probably facing similar dilemnas, but I can't think of any outside the medical field.

Abigail

As someone said above, there seems to be a difference between getting a job in a grocery store and having to occasionally scan items whose intended use is immoral; and getting a job in a store whose purpose is to sell such things.

But I don't see where this distinction fits in your schemata above. Maybe the actual act of scanning a particular item is analyzed the same in each case, but the act of accepting (and holding) the job is to be analyzed differently? I dunno.

Thanks for taking on the question. These things come up all the time, and almost always puzzle me.

Boatbldr

Outside of the medical field?
My company, a behemoth company, donates to planned parenthood, but 99.9% of their donations go to childrens charities. Do I quit my job?

Or at my kids Catholic school. The local health department mandates vaccinations made from dead babies. Do I take my kid out of school? I am surely remotely cooperating with evil by paying for that vaccine, and propping up the wall street profits of that medical company.

In conclusion, to live in a fallen world is to cooperate with evil - it is inescapable. My advice - just pray your inevitable involvement is kept to a minimum.

Benedict

In forensic photography, we use condoms to keep evidence off the legs of our tripods. Otherwise, we can contaminate crime scenes and anything we have will have its credibility annihilated on cross-examination.

Ben

Or what about this situation:

Megacompany X in addition to manufacturing a wide variety of useful everyday items also manufactures some morally questionable things and supports planned parenthood.

Should a cashier refuse to sell everything sold by megacompany X?

Cajun Nick

One could produce an endless list of questionable examples. Here's one to place on the list:

A national group adopts resolutions that the group supports, including one that supports "freedom of choice".

Doubtlessly, thousands of individual members of the group support the resolution. Otherwise, it wouldn't have become a resolution.

However,the group does not ask its members or employees to do anything to promote that particular resolution; it simply exists on the books.

What is the culpability of an employee who works in a state affiliate of the group? especially if that employee solicits people for membership in the group?

rachel

Hello Jimmy, thank you for clarifying this situation. I work in a bookstore and there is material there that I don't like selling but I work at the cash register alot and sometimes I have to order an inappropriate book that the customer wants but I really don't have any choice. All I know are these entry level jobs. I need the income and I am going to school. I know how difficult it can be for a person in my situation. I'm glad to know that I am not committing sin by ringing up materials that are sinful (porno, books on homosexual stuff, etc).

DJ

Just something that caught my eye, in regards to the "Catholic School/vaccines made with aborted fetal tissue" comment made by Boatbldr. At least in my state, you can apply for religious exemption from your kids having to take those vaccines. Probably so in all states. You'll just have to deal with the strange and condemning looks you get from the medical staff as you tell them your reasons.

Margaret

DJ-- just did that on Monday at my incoming-kindergartener's school. The secretarial staff already know me, as four older kids attend or have attended the school. No strange or condemning looks. Not all public school personnel are evil. :-)

This abortion/vaccine topic has also provided an outlet to educate our pediatrician, who previously knew nothing about it. While he hasn't stopped offering the vaccines, we've had some good conversations, and now that he knows what's going on, he completely respects my convictions.

Jason

When I was a pharmacy technician, I refused to sell contraception. I didn't care what the consequences were. I would have gladly resigned if the job required it.

Sure, you may be purchasing those pills and destroying them so others won't buy them. Sure, you may just happen to be a rare pro-life celibate forced to use contraception for a medical "problem". Sure, you may be feeding them to chimps for special tests.

But you and I both know what you are going to do with those pills. And, to top it off, I may be aiding and abbetting the murder of an innocent child.

Thanks, but no thanks.

decker2003

If Jimmy's analysis is correct (and I believe it is), then how can the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics be right? The VG says that Catholic moral teaching does not allow one to vote for a candidate who takes a wrong position on a "non-negotiable issue," except to prevent the election of a candidate whose position(s) on that issue (or those issues) is even worse. But, voting for such a candidate is remote material cooperation in evil, just like the examples in Jimmy's post, and so the same principles must apply. We analyze the extent of the cooperation and the magnitude of the evil in which one is cooperating, then compare those to the good one accomplishes by cooperating. Contraception is a grave evil, but if the cooperation is very remote, then something far less grave (e.g. keeping a job that one needs to support a basic standard of living) could be enough to justify the cooperation.

It must work the same way for voting. We have to analyze not just how horrible the candidate's positions are, but the extent to which we cooperate in those evils by voting for the candidate. In other words, to what extent do we contribute to those evils by voting for the candidate? This is going to depend on a number of factors: what office the candidate is seeking, what power he/she would have in office to affect policy on those issues, the likelihood that the candidate would be successful in changing policy (or preventing a change in policy) on those issues, the likelihood that policy would be different if the candidate were not elected, the likely effects of the change in policy, etc. Certainly we can think of elections and offices where the outcome will have little effect, if any, on policy regarding the "non-negotiables." In that situation, couldn't one reasonably conclude that the cooperation was extremely remote, and so some other lesser good that the candidate would accomplish in office might justify the coooperation?

To illustrate, imagine that you are picking between two candidates for mayor of some city in Kansas. Neither takes a wrong position on any "non-negotiatble", except that one supports legal abortion and tho other does not. The one who does not also has a long history of mismanaging public funds and so is likely to lead the city into bankruptcy. If a a Catholic voted for the "pro-choice" candidate because she concluded that electing the "pro-choice" candidate would have little impact, if any, on the abortion rate in Kansas, but would almost certainly bankrupt the city, how would that voter have implicitly rejected Catholic teaching?

And, as Jimmy points out, there are NO official teachings in this area. The Church has not given authoritative guidance regarding how to assess the remoteness of a particular act of cooperation or how to balance the "proportionate reasons." So, Catholics are at liberty to apply their own best judgment in this area, taking into account the official teachings regarding the importance of various issues.

Nick

Whooo boy... I'm a pharmacist and I struggle, every day when I check OCs. I so my best to say a Hail Mary when I check the Rx hoping that the person isn't using ut for bitch control.

The questions I come up with are these?

1) Is there a pharmacy that I can work in that does not sell birth control? (Not to my knowledge, except Catholic Hospitals).

2) If I don't fill it, someone else will.

3) Is this person using it for contraception or something else?

So what's worse, authorizing an Rx which I feel like I'm sinning everytime I do. Or, pass the 'sin' to another pharmacist who will check it.

I pray that an alternative comes along that would get me out of the situation altogether.

BTW I've always been tempted to call your Thursday show Jimmy and ask about this... thanks for answering it!

M.Z. Forrest

Nick,

Although as you state the person will still get the prescription, my understanding is that either/both Walgreens or/and Jewel Osco allow their pharmacists to decline to fill these prescriptions. When asked about the issue, the pharamacy said that they would refer the person to a competing pharmacy if needed so as not to force the pharmacist to do this.

Nick

But refering someone is passing the buck. Can you redirect a sin onto someone else?

Mary

I have a friend - a college student - who worked at a convenience store on our campus which sold condoms. She needed to work to pay for school and would often have to scan condoms when students purchased them. She told me that she would pray a Hail Mary for every person who bought a condom.

CaeliDS

That's true--remember God can use even evil acts for good, especially if we become involved spiritually, through prayer. What if it was a pro-choicer selling them that BC? They would probably be thinking thoughts like, "You go, girl," whereas you have way more influence on the situation when you bring God's power to bear with that Hail Mary.

BTW, I am concerned that grocery checkers at large will be under a miscroscope if/when Plan B becomes available OTC. Anyone have any insight on this moral dilemma? I mean, then you're not just selling the contraception--you're selling the abortion.

CaeliDS

PS: What's this about vaccines made from aborted fetal tissue??? I just took my kid for shots today and I didn't know a thing about it!

hippo354

"PS: What's this about vaccines made from aborted fetal tissue??? I just took my kid for shots today and I didn't know a thing about it!"

I've heard it many times over the years but it's always second or third hand so I've never had it verified. Anybody have information from a reliable source?

Anna

Experience from non-medical non entry level job:
I used to be a judge. Among many other fields, I was involved in family law cases and putting my signature on a paper could mean the instant transformation of a married couple into a two divorcees. Should I have refused?

Jason said "But you and I both know what you are going to do with those pills." Yes, most people put them in their mouths and swallow them. I did every day for two months because my doctor said it would help correct a certain medical problem. Contraception was not even a non desired side effect ot this, as I am completely infertile. Don't judge an ex judge.

Jimmy Akin

So . . . you're saying "Judge not lest ye be ex-judged"?

Lurker

About choosing a less-than-ideal candidate, perhaps it's not a "lesser evil" if you look at it this way (?): You might just be helping to swing the trend into a more favorable direction, in the grand scheme of things, even if the current candidate is less than ideal. If the trend has a little kickstart, it's possible that it can continue to grow. In this way, it would seem that it is a positive and perhaps necessary step, and not a lesser evil at all. Any thoughts on whether this is a valid way of looking at it?

Boatbldr

For CaeliDS and for hippo354
"PS: What's this about vaccines made from aborted fetal tissue??? "

Please google Children of God for Life or have a look at
http://www.cogforlife.org/

CaeliDS

I found the following statement at www.cogforlife.org:

"When we try to remove the burden of guilt from the minds of our fellow Catholics, we are in effect watering down the truth. While the Church should not have to dictate that these vaccines cannot be used under any circumstance due to their immoral source, it is equally unjust to advise the use of the vaccines to be morally acceptable. The use of "remote material cooperation" as an argument is problematic in that the very word "cooperation" intimates association, regardless of how "remote" it might be, and violates the inner conscience. The faithful pro-life Catholic:

Will not support pro-abortion candidates for public office
Will not donate to charities that support fetal tissue or embryonic stem cell research
Will not buy products from companies who support Planned Parenthood
Will not use doctors who also offer abortion
Will not do business with retailers who supply over-the counter abortifacients
Will not use medical treatments taken from fetal tissue transplants
Will not attend public events with pro-abortion guest speakers

In short, faithful pro-life Catholics will not even "remotely" support any organization or position that is connected with the abortion industry. They do so because their conscience directs them. Using products derived from abortion is in direct contradiction with the above pro-life practices."

Now I am a dedicated pro-lifer, but how can I possibly avoid all those things? Jimmy, how far does this go?

Trace Smith

What about the medical industry? I have a female friend who will soon be a Physician's Assistant and she volunteers at a health clinic serving mostly poor Mexican immigrants. This work is part of her schooling and is required to pass the course. She is "required" to inform the young and not so young girls about birth control options to prevent disease and pregnancy and give them pamphlets describing such. One could conclude that there would be no doctors nor PAs if all were to avoid this sin of birth control education. She is trying to be a good Catholic Christian but is also committed to helping people by servicing them in the medical filed. I assume Catholic hospitals do not advocate nor encourage condom use, correct? Does she give up her quest to be a Physician's Assistant to prevent this "material cooperation" or does she continue to provide this birth-control education for the six months or so until it ends then find a good Catholic hospital to work?

Trace Smith

What about the medical industry? I have a female friend who will soon be a Physician's Assistant and she volunteers at a health clinic serving mostly poor Mexican immigrants. This work is required to pass the course. She is "required" to inform women, and girls, about birth control options to prevent disease and pregnancy and give them pamphlets describing such. One could conclude that there would be no doctors nor PAs if all refused to cooperate with medical educators. She is trying to be a good Catholic Christian but is also committed to helping people by servicing them in the medical field. I assume Catholic hospitals do not advocate nor encourage condom use, correct? This is "material cooperation" at its greatest. Does she give up her quest to be a Physician's Assistant to prevent this sin or does she continue to provide birth control education for the six months or so until it ends then find a good Catholic hospital to work?

trace smith

Sorry for the double post. The second one was the better editted version. :)

Crispy

Thanks for the post Jimmy. I just got a job at a convenience store, and I noticed on my first day that there was a potential problem with my having to ring up condoms. Your post was very timely, and I thank you for you through examination of the subject.

Laura

Even though it's a couple of years old, this post was very timely for me and very helpful. Thank you, Jimmy.

P.S. In case you are wondering, Michelle linked to this post over at the CA forums, which is why it's being visited in June 2007!

Laura Hemingway

Thank you! You have no idea how timely and needed your words are for me. Thank you for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for speaking the truth!

Jeff

( It'd be funny if "God" were the registrant for a domain name, though.) Brad Haas | Aug 25, 2005 11:11:31 AM

========

I remember reading awhile back about a wealthy individual who died apparently with no heirs and in his will he left everything to "God".

It wasn't long before some lawyer filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client to get that money. He claimed that he had sustained significant damage to his home "because of an act of God".

Sheesh.

Jeff

( It'd be funny if "God" were the registrant for a domain name, though.) Brad Haas | Aug 25, 2005 11:11:31 AM

========

I remember reading awhile back about a wealthy individual who died apparently with no heirs and in his will he left everything to "God".

It wasn't long before some lawyer filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client to get that money. He claimed that he had sustained significant damage to his home "because of an act of God".

Sheesh.

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