Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Roman Catholic Quandary Zubik Urges Voters to Weigh the Issues

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Roman Catholic Quandary Zubik Urges Voters to Weigh the Issues

Article excerpt

Roman Catholics are as polarized as any other group during this election campaign.

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh has seen that firsthand.

The leader of the region's largest religious population used much of his column space in the most recent edition of the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper in describing various reasons people give him for why Catholics should not vote for one or the other candidate. Some cite Democrat Hillary Clinton's support for abortion rights and gay marriage, others the multiple accusations that Republican Donald Trump mistreated women or his calls for walling off Mexico to prevent illegal immigration.

Some cited religious liberty. Bishop Zubik was the lead plaintiff in a religious-liberty Supreme Court case against the current Democratic administration - involving the Obamacare contraception mandate as it applied to faith-based charities and schools. But others cite religious-liberty concerns in Mr. Trump's opposition of Muslims entering the country, including those fleeing Syria's warfare.

And while WikiLeaks has released old emails among Clinton campaign staffers that some saw as condescending to conservative Catholics, Mr. Trump this year also described as "disgraceful" Pope Francis' statement that Mr. Trump's idea of walling off immigrants was not Christian.

In past elections, voters typically weighed the positive and negative aspects for each candidate, Bishop Zubik said.

"Unfortunately, this election you compare the negatives with the negatives," he said, adding that he and others feel without a political home in this election.

"You can't vote for something that goes against your faith," he said, including on the issues of abortion and religious liberty.

Yet as the grandson of Slovak and Polish immigrants, he said he's very concerned about "the direction the Republican Party would be taking on the issue of immigration."

He urged Catholics to study the issues and make the best decision they can on Tuesday.

Bishop Zubik said he's hoping for more unity on the day before. Today, he's asking all Catholic churches to open their doors for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, or communion host, which Catholics believe is the presence of Jesus Christ.

Catholics are a crucial voting population - but hardly a bloc - composing close to one-third of likely voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania, according to Franklin & Marshall College Poll results.

A Franklin & Marshall poll in September found Catholics evenly divided on the presidential race, while an October poll put Ms. Clinton ahead among Catholics by 16 points. …

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