Bishops Advise Catholic Voters; Guidelines Link Church Tenets and Responsible Civic Activities

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 13, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Bishops Advise Catholic Voters; Guidelines Link Church Tenets and Responsible Civic Activities


Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Catholics need to take the moral absolutes of their religion seriously when they enter the voting booth, says a document prepared for release today by U.S. Catholic bishops.

Called "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility," the 17-page document restates Catholic doctrines with a look ahead to next year's elections. It will be posted today at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Web site, www.usccb.org.

The U.S. Conference issues a document on voting guidelines every four years, just before presidential primaries begin.

"We never tell people how to vote. That is not our job," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington. "We present the facts and Catholic teachings and we hope we take that into consideration when they get into the ballot box."

Catholics generally do not vote as a bloc, he added, but "people have personally told me they are glad we pointed these things out."

Since the 2000 presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore, there have been two wars, a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil and a devastating clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church itself, the document says.

"Our community of faith and especially we, as bishops, are working to face our responsibility and take all necessary steps to overcome the hurt, damage and loss of trust resulting from the evil of clerical sexual abuse," it says.

Still, the church has an important role in public life, it adds, and the church must "encourage Catholics to act on our faith in political life." This includes running for office, working within political parties and contributing time and money to campaigns.

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