"Some would prefer that Catholics and others of faith remain silent, or they will say that such beliefs have no place in the public square," Estevez said. "Such views run contrary to our fraternal bonds and commitment to the common good as equal and valued citizens."
He rejected the claim that focusing on "the preeminent issue of abortion" means the Church promotes "single-issue voting that will tend to support a particular candidate or party."
"The Church will always act to promote the dignity and value of every human life from conception to natural death. We care about both mothers and their children, born and unborn, as well as the poor, the immigrant, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, those who are marginalized, and those on death row. We seek to promote a Culture of Life through our teaching and through our ministries, some of which are threatened by the extreme positions taken by some on issues of life and the family."
"The political parties and their candidates have provided you with information that they believe will help you to understand their positions on issues that are important to you and for the good of the country," he explained. "The Church engages in this political process by providing you with the faith context to judge some of these positions."
Estevez spoke with CNA about his letter.
"It is very important that our citizens vote, and that they vote consciously reflecting on the spectrum of the entire social teaching of the Church and that they consider the intrinsic evils in a very prominent way," he said Oct. 9.
"Like I say in my (letter's) first paragraph: I don't tell you who to vote for, that is your great and awesome responsibility," the bishop said. "Please vote. It is a patriotic and common good responsibility."
Estevez told CNA he put euthanasia on "the same level of intrinsic evils" as abortion, drawing from the teachings of Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II. "I think we need to protect as well our senior citizens. Regretfully, there are several states as well that do not protect them," he said.
The letter includes a quotation from St. John Paul II's 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, addressing the case of "an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia," in which the pope said "it is therefore never licit to obey it, or take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."
Estevez said that in his letter "I enumerate all the other issues, including the death penalty, which are you aware is on the other side of the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat."
He said the diocese and the Florida Catholic Conference had done much work to provide Catholics with a list of issues presenting the positions of the political parties.
However, he decided to write the letter after continued requests from laity who were "struggling with how to make a decision."
(Story continues below)
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Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.