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Catholics and Political Responsibility
May 8, 2004
"To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom..." [Evangelium Vitae 20]
In 2004, a presidential election year in the United States, an issue that surfaced early is the responsibility of Catholic politicians, Catholic voters, and bishops to support Church teaching.
This is hardly a new issue, but it gained heightened attention this year after it emerged that the leading candidate for presidential nomination in the Democratic party is a practicing Catholic who has a "perfect" pro-abortion voting record as senator from Massachusetts. But other prominent Catholic politicians -- governors, congressmen, etc. -- hold similar views.
The disagreement is not over what the Church teaches on life-issues -- that all human life is sacred, that the right to life is fundamental to all other human rights, and that abortion, the deliberate killing of unborn children, the most vulnerable human beings, is an abominable evil.
Rather, the conflict is centered on the obligation of every Catholic not only to recognize what the Church teaches, but to actively preserve, protect and defend her teachings, putting them into practice whenever possible. Some Catholic politicians maintain that there is a "wall of separation" between Church and State, and that a person's beliefs are private matters of "conscience" that do not (and should not) affect legislators' decisions -- not even on key moral issues.
In particular, the issue of whether Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion may be admitted to Communion has become a matter of controversy, even among some prominent Catholic leaders, not excluding bishops.
We have compiled important resources -- including timely quotes and helpful links -- as an informative aid for Catholics in discerning the issues involved, and in forming a basis for decisions to support candidates for office who work for legislation consistent with fundamental moral law consistent with Catholic teaching.
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