.- The U.S. bishops’ new introductory note to their statement on Catholics’ voting responsibilities helps clarify distortions and affirms the importance of pro-life, marriage and religious freedom issues, two leaders with the group Catholic Advocate said.
“For too many decades, pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their supporters have been allowed to treat all the issues of our social teaching as if they had the same value,” Catholic Advocate president Deal W. Hudson and vice president Matt Smith said on Oct. 11.
The note was a “welcome” clarification for those who have worked in the political process on behalf of the unborn, marriage and families. Its language was not meant to be overlooked by those who want to promote “Obama and other pro-abortion politicians” to Catholic voters, they suggested.
They said the introductory note pays “particular attention” to religious liberty at a time of conflicts over the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate for contraceptive coverage in insurance plans.
“We at Catholic Advocate think religious liberty will become one of the major social issues of the 2012 campaign, rivaling both abortion and gay marriage,” said Hudson and Smith, who noted that the U.S. bishops have formed a new committee on the issue.
The bishops’ new introductory note clarifies the 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” It warns against “misguided appeals to ‘conscience’ to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.”
The note criticizes the misuse of the document to present “an incomplete or distorted view of the demands of faith in politics.”
Hudson and Smith said that many bishops are aware of the “confusion and consternation” caused by the abuse of the document.
“Dozens of individual bishops issued statements to clarify the document and defend it against the spin being put on it by abortion advocates,” they said.
They stressed the bishops’ comments about Catholics’ “clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified.”
The introductory note begins by citing the “continuing destruction of unborn children through abortion and other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick or unwanted.” It also cites religious liberty conscience violations for those in health care, education, and social services, as well as efforts to redefine marriage.
Hudson and Smith found it “puzzling” for Catholic supporters of President Obama’s re-election to celebrate the note’s language.
“This guidance provides just what was needed, so as the bishops urge us, ‘We can act together to promote and protect human life and dignity, marriage and family, justice and peace in service to the common good’,” they concluded.