SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Democratic political candidate who once argued for “accurate” contraceptive sex education, and against traditional marriage and an abortion ban, has been tasked with explaining Catholic moral priorities in the voting booth for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Jean Welch Hill, who ran unsuccessfully for Utah Attorney General in 2008 and the State House in 1996, issued a column Friday as Director for the diocese’s Peace and Justice Commission that prefaced future remarks on the U.S. Bishops Conference voter’s guide, “Faithful Citizenship,” by emphasizing the latitude individual Catholics have to “decide for ourselves which candidates truly respect life.”

“Despite what political pundits might say, Catholics cannot be lumped into the broad categories of liberal or conservative, nor should we be led astray by interest groups who demand that Catholics vote a particular way,” wrote Hill. “We must each decide for ourselves which candidates truly respect life and understand how all political issues, from abortion to taxes to energy policy, impact human dignity.”

Hill began the piece by listing bishops’ quotations against abortion alongside other quotes against poverty and violence, and suggested that it’s up to the voter to balance a candidate’s “morally flawed” positions with others that could outweigh the bad.

“‘The answer to violence is not more violence.’ ‘Every child should have the opportunity to be born and to feel welcomed.’ ‘Make the needs of the poor a priority.’ ‘Safe and affordable housing should be available for all.’ ... The voter must decide whether to vote for the candidate who is less likely to pursue his or her morally flawed position and more likely to focus on other positions that promote the common good,” wrote Hill.

When Hill was appointed to work for the diocese last year, it was noted that, as a former candidate backed by both Planned Parenthood and the gay rights group Equality Utah, Hill’s spokesmanship for the Catholic hierarchy on political matters was questionable.

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In a debate with incumbent AG Mark Shurtleff in 2008, Hill, a Democrat, argued against a bill that would have moved to ban “abortion rights” in the state, and criticized Republicans for advancing it as mere grandstanding. “It looks to me coming as it is right now as yet another election year ploy,” said Hill. She added that she would “use that pulpit” of the office of Attorney General to publicize her disagreement with the bill.

Hill also defended special legal protections for sexual orientation as “basic rights,” a stance she also held regarding homosexuals seeking marriage during her 1996 campaign, and pushed for the advent of contraceptive-based sex education in Utah.

When asked about the apparent conflict last year, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Salt Lake City said they do not discuss “personnel issues,” but said that “Jean Hill is a practicing Catholic who is totally committed to the mission of the Church.”

Deal Hudson, president of the Catholic Advocate, said Hill’s tepid treatment of abortion raised questions about that commitment.

“The opening paragraph of Hill’s op-ed illustrates the problem of how Faithful Citizenship was used in 2008.  You can’t just make a list of issues and imply they are all equal in importance,” Hudson, who had criticized Hill’s appointment, told LifeSiteNews.com in an email.  The only issue in Hill’s list that Faithful Citizenship describes as intrinsically evil, he said, “is abortion.”

“The other issues she mentioned are prudential and can be addressed in a variety of ways across the political spectrum. But there is only one way to allow a child to be born and welcomed—eliminate abortion,” he said.

Contact Information:

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City
27 C Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Phone: 801.328.8641 ext. 304
E-mail: Bishop.office@dioslc.org

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