Non-Negotiable Moral Issues

Pope St. John Paul II, Encyclical The Gospel of Life 74

Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it"

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to European Parliamentary Group, 30 March 2006.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

(a) protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

(b) recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage, and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

(c) the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

Common goods and intrinsic evils.

Each of the 3 non-negotiable values identified by Pope Benedict involve essential or common goods which are necessary for the flourishing of human beings and human societies. Their violation involve intrinsic evils which can never be justified by good intentions or circumstances, including the particular good of individuals or groups.

Political Corruption of the Common Good

When an individual violates an essential good it is called sin. When the political authority does so, besides being gravely wrong for the individuals passing, defending or otherwise approving of such laws, it undermines the common good and constitutes political corruption (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church §411). Such corruption undermines a democratic society. The willingness to violate common goods, such as life, is the ultimate character test, and betrays a willingness to violate any good or right that is opposed to the particular interests of those in power and their supporters.

The Dignify of Human Life

[T]he common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.

Human Life

The Dignity of Marriage and Family

The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan.

Marriage and Family

Religious Freedom

[C]onstitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations.

Religious Freedom

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