New Catholic Church Document Emphasizes Abortion, No Election Involvement

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 25, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Catholic Church Document Emphasizes Abortion, No Election Involvement Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 25, 2004

The Vatican ( — The Catholic Church on Monday unveiled a new document reiterating its strong opposition to abortion. Meanwhile, Vatican officials confirmed the church has no position on the upcoming presidential elections.

Church officials presented a 330-page compilation of the church’s doctrine on social issues like abortion. The "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" draws on decades of teachings of Pope John Paul II and previous popes and restates the church’s long opposition to abortion.

The papers called abortion a "horrendous crime” and said it represented "a dangerous threat to a just and democratic social existence.”

According to an Associated Press story, a reporter asked Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls if Catholics could vote for candidates that support abortion.

"[The] Holy See never gets involved in electoral or political matters directly," Navarro-Valls said. "The Holy See has never entered into, nor does it intend to, the merits of political choice as far as the American presidential elections are concerned."

He indicated it would be up to individual bishops to instruct parishioners on Catholic views on voting.

Cardinal Renato Martino, a former Vatican diplomat at the United Nations said the document was not released to make any statement on the upcoming presidential elections.

The document comes at a time when many Catholic bishops and organizations in the United States are encouraging voters not to pick pro-abortion candidates.

Bishop Bernard Schmitt of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese in West Virginia was the latest Catholic leader to issue such a statement in a statewide letter he sent out last week.

"Abortion is the greatest moral evil of our age," Bishop Schmitt wrote.

Schmitt wrote that the abortion issue is more important than other key issues for the church, such as the death penalty or war.

"All evils are not equal," the bishop explained. "Abortion, representing as it does an attack on the most innocent of all human life and the most sacred of all human relationships, is so grave and profound an evil that it calls all men and women of good will to action."

"In light of that truth, a Catholic who deliberately votes for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion is guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil," Bishop Schmitt wrote.