In the most recent Republican debate, Rick Perry made an impassioned defense of waterboarding. According to the LA Times report:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched the most forceful defense of waterboarding, saying that all means possible should be used to extract information from those who would aim to hurt U.S. service personnel.
“For us not to have the ability to extract information to save our young people’s lives is a travesty. This is war. And I am for [using any tactics] … and I will be for it until I die. “
This can be criticized from many perspectives: his defense of the intrinsic evil of torture, his appeal to ultilitarian ethics, etc. But for me this raises the following hypothetical question: suppose Perry were to get the Republican nomination? We would then be confronted by two candidates who have firmly staked out positions contrary to Catholic teaching on the dignity of human life: Obama and his support for abortion, and Perry and his support for torture (and to a lesser extent, the death penalty). Neither one could be awarded the mantle of the “pro-life” candidate. Whom should Catholics vote for?I will presume, following the reasoning of the US Bishops, that no serious Catholic would vote for either in support of their positions on abortion/torture. But, as they made clear, one can, for sufficiently grave reasons, vote for either of them despite their positions on these issues. A Catholic might respond by declining to vote for either major party candidate. Alternatively, the Catholic voter will have to find some grounds for deciding between the two. Any such decision will require an evaluation of the alternatives, more than a little compromise, and careful discernment. In other words, prudential judgment. I think that this would be a good thing for the Church, individually and collectively.
Of course, this may be a foolish dream. I am sure that the “Five Non-negotiables” will be trotted out—a handful of positions that conveniently omit any Catholic teaching that Republican candidates might be opposed to—and again declared “the” Catholic scorecard for the election. But by his firm stands contrary to Catholic teaching, Perry is making this approach less and less tenable.