Catholic Latino group releases 2012 voting guide

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The Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance has applied Catholic social teaching to issues that will shape the upcoming presidential election in a new voter's guide.

"We invite U.S. Catholics to reflect on this document and use it as an aid to decision-making before entering the voting booth in November," president Robert Aguirre said Aug. 21.

The San Antonio-based group has gathered candidate opinions with related media reports and compiled them into a 21-page document to summarize where the presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties stand on particular issues.

"Opinions from candidates and the media related to these issues may be debated, but Catholic social teaching is clear," Aguirre said.

Available on the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance's website, the document evaluates President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on 23 key issues such as "gay marriage", the contraception mandate and immigration reform and assigns them a score signifying how closely their policies and opinions line up with that of Catholic social teaching.

According to the group's analysis, President Obama achieved a score of 17.4 percent while Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had a rating of  52.2 percent.

Aguirre said that the report's data indicates that "the difference between the two major party candidates is very clear."

With a population of 50.5 million people in the United States, 42.7 percent of Latinos are currently eligible to vote.

In the 2008 presidential election, 49.9 percent of those eligible voted, with 67 percent of them voting for Obama and 31 percent for McCain, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Aguirre said that his organization's report draws from the U.S. bishop's statement "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility," which describes "responsible citizenship" as a "virtue" and political participation "a moral obligation."

"Let there be no mistake about it, this is a national call for Catholics to exercise their faith in the voting booth," Aguirre said.

Catholics have a responsibility to vote with "an informed conscience, formed by the Gospel," rather than from "habit or tradition," the report said.

To that end, the document is "an effort to assist thoughtful voters" in making their decisions for the upcoming presidential election.

It is expected that Latino voters will turn out in even greater numbers in November, given their largest showing yet for a non-presidential race at the 2010 midterm elections where three Hispanic candidates, Marco Rubio, Susan Martinez and Brian Sandoval, took top statewide offices in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

In that election, 60 percent of Hispanics voted for Democrats while 38 percent voted for Republicans. Those numbers reflect a change from the 2006 midterm elections where 69 percent voted for Democrats and 30 percent for Republicans.

Although the voter report comes from the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance, it is intended for all Catholic voters in America.

"This isn't just an evaluation for Hispanic Catholics," Aguirre explained, "it is a guided reflection of the position of our Catholic Church and of all people of faith who believe in applying the principles of the Gospel in the public square."

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The full text of the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance's voter guide can be found at

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