by Steven Ertelt
November 14, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The nation’s Catholic bishops on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted for a new document saying that the abortion issue should guide the voting decisions Catholics make. While the Catholic Church recognizes that a variety of political issues are important, the bishops said pro-life issues take precedence.
"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the bishops said in the new document.
"As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support," the bishops explained.
"Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support," they added.
Titled, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," the document does not tell Catholics which candidates to support but encourages Catholic voters to decide which candidates best promote Catholic views and side with the Church on pro-life topics.
In addition to abortion, the bishops said euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell research should form the panoply of pro-life issues that guide Catholic voters.
At the same time, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who led the committee that drafted the document, said it is "a summary of Catholic teaching, not a voter’s guide."
"It calls us as bishops to help form consciences for political life, not tell people how to vote or whom to vote for or against," he added.
The document also 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. 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.
Because the document is aimed towards faithful, churchgoing Catholics it does not address the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians who want to receive communion.
That has been a contentious political issue and some leading bishops such as St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke have said they would not support giving the sacrament to pro-abortion politicians.
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.
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.