INDIANAPOLIS, June 25, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In his address to journalists gathered for the 2012 Catholic Media Conference in Indianapolis on June 22, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said Catholic voters must “insist that every candidate for public office respect the integrity and mission of the Catholic Church and its institutions.”

“Over the years, it has become clear to many that if Catholics in both political parties had practiced a consistent commitment to Catholic social teaching and if they had been able to overcome partisan rigidity and hostility, we would have been able to significantly restrict abortion,” Anderson told members of the Catholic Press Association. He added, “We were not able to do this because of a failure of our elected Catholic officials.”

Anderson said that Church members must stop supporting “candidates who advocate policies that are intrinsically evil.”

The Supreme Knight critiqued what has become called the “Cuomo doctrine,” which former New York governor Mario Cuomo articulated in a 1984 speech at the University of Notre Dame. “He defended his position of being personally opposed to abortion but unwilling to take a position opposing abortion because this would mean imposing his beliefs on his fellow citizens,” Anderson explained.

Cuomo’s argument, however, had a “fatal flaw,” since medical science has concluded that the being alive in a mother’s womb is a human being “irrespective of one’s religious conviction. Therefore, the protection of innocent human life that is a fundamental legal principle of every civilized society should apply to protect unborn children.”

The “Cuomo doctrine” thus created “a generation of ‘pro-choice’ Catholic politicians.”

“The result,” Anderson said, “has been a political stalemate on the abortion issue for nearly three decades.”

This stalemate has led some Catholics to regard the “Cuomo Doctrine” as a kind of “truce” in the culture wars.

However, “this year, many Catholics sense that this ‘peaceful co-existence’ with secular culture has ended as a result of the HHS mandate on contraception,” Anderson said, pointing to the Obama administration’s policy forcing Catholic employers to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs in their health plans.

Anderson observed that the bishops of the U.S. maintain that if implemented, the HHS mandate will affect the autonomy and integrity of the Church and its institutions and that it will dramatically change the mission of the Catholic Church in the United States.

“Therefore the HHS mandate confronts us with a challenge which is very different from that of social issues such as legal abortion. It is different because it is a challenge to the integrity of our Catholic institutions and our own lives as Catholics.”

“Catholic voters must have the courage to tell candidates that if they want Catholic votes they will have to respect the fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching such as the sanctity of human life before birth as well as the institutions of marriage and family,” Anderson declared.

“Catholic voters should insist that candidates measure their political platforms by Catholic social teaching—especially if they are Catholics. And they should have the courage to withhold their vote from candidates who fail this test—even if it means at times that they will withhold their vote for both candidates for a particular office.”

“Catholic voters should have the courage to settle for nothing less than this,” the Supreme Knight concluded.

The full text of Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s address to the Catholic Press Association is available here.