Monday, October 13, 2008

What Catholic Bishops Teach About Voting

What Catholic Bishops Teach About Voting

It is a mistake to think that the Catholic Church tells people how to vote. Catholic Bishops tell people they need to form their consciences and vote accordingly.

The Bishops’ provocative and prophetic statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” (found on the Bishops’ website ( ) clearly articulates the Catholic position much better than supposedly Catholic websites like

It is exceedingly curious that the authors of refuse to identify themselves on their website, although something called the "Fidelis Center for Law and Policy" (again no names identifying who runs the organization) will take your money. I always wonder about those who write and publish their opinions, yet refuse to sign their names. And I am very suspicious of those who ask for money but refuse to reveal their identities. Who are the people behind

The U.S. Catholic Bishops take responsibility for what they publish in the public forum. Let the Bishops’ words speak for themselves. Here are some pertinent quotes (One can see the whole statement at

“In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience....” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” 2008, p. 2).

“There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” 2008, p. 8).

“Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity: The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed. The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues. Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved on each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” 2008, p. 9).

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