Over 200 students filled the Finnegan Fieldhouse the evening of Oct. 11 to witness the 21st Veritas Society Dumb Ox Debate regarding the Catholic vote in the upcoming United States presidential election.
The debate’s motion was “This house believes that faithful Catholics must vote for Trump in the upcoming election.” Before the debate, a preliminary vote was taken, which resulted in 80 affirming, 35 opposing and 46 abstaining.
Affirming the motion were senior Aileen Casillas and junior Alex McKenna. Casillas warned listeners, especially those who plan to vote third party, to vote carefully with the “preeminent moral issue” of abortion in mind.
Casillas said, “Remember the consequences that can happen and the steps back we would be taking if we allow Joe Biden to get into office, because he would be expanding the evil of abortion.”
McKenna said that Catholics have an obligation to form their consciences. If Catholics have formed consciences, McKenna said, then they must vote for Trump due to his pro-life policies.
“No other goodness,” McKenna said, “from other social issues can be had unless we first have life. It is life that determines and defines who we are as Catholics.”
Wolf cited “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He said that the document permits Catholics to vote for a certain party which holds policies they themselves do not support as long as the voters do not will those specific policies
Elaborating on this idea, Wolf said, “A Catholic may morally vote for Biden so long as their intent is not to support abortion.”
Orsay placed great emphasis on the word “must” from the motion, claiming it implies unconditional obligation. With that in mind, Orsay disputed the motion, which he said forces faithful Catholics to vote against their conscience for a person who they think is evil, that person being Trump.
After concluding statements by both sides, the final vote came to 120 affirming, 40 opposing and 10 abstaining.
Reflecting on the debate, junior Patrick Frazier said it likely did not change people’s minds because “people are already very set in their opinions about who they’re going to vote for.”
Freshmen Spencer LeStrange and Niklas Koehler were disappointed in the debate’s discussion. They said the debate got off-topic, and should have focused more on Catholics’ moral obligation to vote for Trump.