Formed Consciences

Catholic voting guide published for New Hampshire primaries


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester on Saturday began distributing voting guides to parishioners, the Nashua Telegraph reports.  The guides recommend voters choose the candidate whose presidency would cause the least harm to human life. 

The guide, a six-page pamphlet titled “Conscience and Your Vote,” does not endorse any candidate or party.  Over 50,000 copies were distributed at weekend Masses.

“We've never had one before a primary vote," Bishop of Manchester John McCormack said of the guides. "The Church says that there are social issues in society that have moral dimensions, and that Catholics should form their consciences on those social issues and then vote for a candidate who supports those issues the best way possible."

The guide acknowledges that candidates rarely fully adhere to Catholic teaching on life issues like abortion, embryonic research, or the death penalty.  Therefore, the guide says that Catholics must review whether "candidates support or tolerate policies that include intrinsically evil acts" and then "carefully assess the situation and decide which candidate will produce the least harm to innocent life, if elected."

Explaining that voters couldn’t support an evil act in itself, Bishop McCormack said, “The best thing to say is they would be choosing a candidate who would produce the most good for people in terms of dignity or, in terms of human life, who would produce the least harm.”

He added: “There are some matters, for example, that are always wrong. Whether it’s abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research – those are destroying human life. With other issues, Catholics adopt a variety of positions – immigration, health care, ending the war. Those are matters in which people can’t agree on the best thing.”

The guide also reminds Catholics that they must oppose torture, unjust war, and the unnecessary use of the death penalty.  It also notes the moral imperative to pursue peace and overcome poverty, racism, and other conditions that demean human life.

“This is informed by reason and then affirmed by our faith,” Bishop McCormack said. “It’s natural law about the human person, about human life, and that applies to everyone.”

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