Since each day our faith is challenged by the issues facing our society, it's easy for us to become confused regarding how to evaluate the seriousness of each one and determine which ones should take priority. To help us sort things out, the Catholic Church, in the Catechism and other official publications, has identified specific issues that are intrinsically evil, such as abortion, euthanasia, homosexual lifestyles, embryonic stem cell research and usage, etc. Intrinsically evil means that it can never be right to follow, support, or engage in the activity identified, and that the actions are sinful. Other issues of a non-sinful yet serious nature can be addressed using what is referred to as prudential judgment.
Being an application of moral principles to do good and avoid evil, prudential judgment indicates there is not always a clear right or wrong to be followed, and each issue may have more than one viable solution, the results of which may not be realized until some time in the future. This includes issues such as how to break the cycle of poverty, or how to stabilize the economy, or make sure no citizens are starving or in need of shelter or clothing or medical care. The problem of illegal immigration would also come under this heading. For these issues prudential judgment needs to be exercised and an informed decision made for what appears to be the proper solution, while realizing that the proposed outcome is not always immediate and may not yield anticipated results. Discussion on these topics, however, is important, and we may find ourselves rightfully championing opposing sides.
These definitions and guidelines further indicate that all issues do not carry the same weight, and that they need to be ordered accordingly. For those that are intrinsically evil there can be no compromise, and due to their nature they should be addressed with the highest priority. While a society can continue to function while resolving issues regarding prudential judgment, intrinsically evil ones attack the very core of that society and if allowed to continue will initiate or hasten its moral decay.
It is extremely important, therefore, for us to remain strong in our faith and be willing to witness to the truth found in the teachings of the Catholic Church. The early Christians were willing to suffer dire consequences rather than compromise their faith. We need to have a similar resolve.
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