by Steven Ertelt
November 12, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The nation’s Catholic bishops this week plan to vote on an election 2008 document outlining how Catholics should be involved in political issues during next year’s election. The document says that Catholics should put their pro-life values ahead of devotion to a particular political party and urges more Catholics to run for office.
It has become a custom that U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops release political guidelines for Catholics every four years in advance of presidential elections.
The vote will take place during the bishops’ annual meeting — which begins today — and the new document they will consider calls on Catholics to look beyond "powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype."
Instead, they should be focused on "the dignity of every human being and the protection of the weak and vulnerable."
"As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group," the 47-page draft document reads.
"When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths," it adds.
While other political issues are mentioned as important ones for Catholics, the document, entitled, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” says that abortion and other pro-life issues are paramount.
"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," it reads, according to the Catholic News Service.
"The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity," they say. "The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is … not just one issue among many."
The document does not directly address the question of whether pro-abortion politicians should get communion.
But it does say that Catholics should not vote for pro-abortion candidates unless the candidate who is pro-life on abortion and bioethics issues violates Catholic teachings in other very serious ways.
Seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops crafted the new document and two-thirds of the bishops must support it for it to be ratified.
They will also consider a shortened version that would be placed in church bulletins, CNS reports.
These kinds of documents have been approved before every presidential election for the last 30 years but this is the first time the bishops will sign off on it.
The bishops are also expected to elect Chicago’s archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, to lead the conference. He is the current leader of more than 2.3 million Catholics in the Chicago area and is currently the vice-president of the conference.
The new president will succeed Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, who has been a strong pro-life advocate.