Abortion should be a top issue for Catholic voters in 2016, the U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized Tuesday.
The bishops approved a new guide for voters called “Faithful Citizenship,” which stresses the moral importance of voting for candidates with pro-life and pro-family values, according to the Catholic Herald. Despite some debate about its contents Tuesday, the bishops overwhelmingly approved it during their national assembly.
“Some issues involve principles that can never be abandoned such as the fundamental right to life and marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the bishops said. They said voting for a candidate specifically because the politician favors a “grave evil” such as abortion amounts to “formal cooperation” with that evil by the voter.
The bishops also emphasized the importance of protections for conscientious objectors who do not want to participate in abortion.
A previous version of their guide also put abortion in the forefront of voter’s minds. It states: “We are a nation founded on ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the most vulnerable members of the American family.”
“Human Life” is the first issue in the guide’s list of policy positions of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It states:
Our 1998 statement Living the Gospel of Life declares, “Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition for all others.” Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed. Cloning and destruction of human embryos for research or even for potential cures are always wrong. The purposeful taking of human life by assisted suicide and euthanasia is not an act of mercy, but an unjustifiable assault on human life. Genocide, torture, and the direct and intentional targeting of noncombatants in war or terrorist attacks are always wrong.
Laws that legitimize any of these practices are profoundly unjust and immoral. Our Conference supports laws and policies to protect human life to the maximum degree possible, including constitutional protection for the unborn and legislative efforts to end abortion and euthanasia. We also promote a culture of life by supporting laws and programs that encourage childbirth and adoption over abortion and by addressing poverty, providing health care, and offering other assistance to pregnant women, children, and families.
The bishops regularly release the issues guide prior to presidential elections, the last one being in 2011.
“The document is viewed as a barometer of church leaders’ top concerns as they apply Catholic teaching to modern-day policy concerns,” the Associated Press reported.