Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2020 / 14:15 pm
Defense of innocent human life should be “uppermost” in the mind of Catholic voters at election time, the bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania, has told Catholics in his diocese.
In a letter issued Sept. 9 on voting in the upcoming presidential elections, Bishop Alfred Schlert of Allentown said that “abortion and euthanasia are the ‘preeminent’ issues in forming an opinion about how to vote,” citing Catholic teaching as outlined by the U.S. bishops and Pope Francis.
Schlert cited Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici to underline this point; that document stated that “the right to health, to home, to work, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”
Catholics, Schlert said, should be voting with the intent of protecting innocent human life “uppermost” in their minds.
“While there is no initiative on the part of the Church to support one candidate over another,” said Schlert, “it is an indispensable obligation of bishops, priests, and deacons to inform the faithful about the hierarchy of issues that must be considered in conscience by every voting Catholic.”
“Hence, a Catholic voter is to approach the ballot box with the defense of innocent human life uppermost in his/her mind and conscience,” he wrote, adding that Catholic voters should consider whether their vote would constitute cooperation “with a candidate’s promotion of the grave sins of abortion and euthanasia.”
The voting document of the U.S. bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” says that Catholics may vote for a candidate for political office who takes “unacceptable” positions on intrinsically evil acts; they may vote this way only “for truly grave moral reasons,” and “not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”
Bishop Schlert exhorted Catholics to vote, but to do so in a serious manner and with a “well-formed conscience.”