.- Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have invited both major party presidential candidates to meet with them before the election, reportedly to discuss social issues. The bishops who would attend any such meeting are chairmen of USCCB committees on pro-life issues, education, migration, international affairs and communications.
A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign told the Wall Street Journal that the Republican senator wants to accept the invitation, but does not know if he can fit a meeting into his schedule.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Media Director of the USCCB, confirmed to CNA that neither candidate has accepted the invitation yet.
She explained that the invitation was extended by the bishops as part of their efforts for “promoting and understanding ‘Faithful Citizenship’.”
In November 2007 the USCCB published the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to inform Catholics how church teachings relate to political issues.
"These themes from Catholic social teaching provide a moral framework that does not easily fit ideologies of 'right' or 'left,' 'liberal' or 'conservative,' or the platform of any political party," the bishops wrote.
William Murphy, who is Bishop of Rockville Centre and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, told the Wall Street Journal that any meetings, if they take place at all, will be private and off the record.
Explaining the purpose of the meeting, he said: “We think it would be helpful for us to have that time and we think it would be helpful for the candidates to hear from the teachers of the Catholic church …as to what our concerns are."
CNA contacted Bishop Thomas Wenski, who also heads the USCCB Committee on Migration and International Policy Committee, but he was unavailable for comment before press time.