October 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Most Reverend Joseph A. Galante, D.D., J.C.D., Bishop of Camden, has called on the Catholic people of the diocese to have the courage of their convictions and to give voice to their core beliefs in the public square.

In a letter to the Catholic people of the diocese published in the October 3 edition of the Catholic Star Herald, the diocesan newspaper, Bishop Galante said that for Catholics, there can be no dichotomy between belief and their responsibility as citizens. “Our belief cannot be compartmentalized, reserved only for Sunday worship, private prayer, or times when we are in the presence of like-minded Catholics. If we are serious about our faith, and if we are to be people of integrity, it must infuse our lives every day and at every moment, even when it is inconvenient, uncomfortable or unpopular,” he said.

He said that Catholics have a responsibility as citizens to promote core principles about life, human dignity and the common good and to vote in accord with a conscience formed in light of Scripture and Church teaching.

He pointedly rejected the arguments of those who, in an appeal to pluralism, would decline to have the convictions of their faith bear on their responsibility as citizens. “If we are true to our faith, we cannot retreat or hide behind the formula, ‘I am personally for this or against this, but I will not impose my view on others.’ This argument is as lacking in courage and integrity as it is specious,” he said in the letter. He said that when moral convictions are brought into the public square by people of faith, “our nation’s tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened.”

Bishop Galante emphasized that the Church does not endorse candidates or parties, but speaks out on the issues of the day because of the moral principles at stake, “especially the right to life, the dignity of persons, and the need to serve the common good.” He said these principles are not important because the Church says so, but because they rest on fundamental truths that do not depend on religious belief or party affiliation.

He said, “Human life has intrinsic worth and dignity. This is true for all persons: those not yet born, the newborn, the elderly and infirm, the terminally ill, and every stage in between. This reality cannot be altered by executive order, legislative action or the ruling of a court.”

Citing a range of issues of concern to Catholic voters, Bishop Galante emphasized that the weakest and most vulnerable in society must be given preference in the pursuit of the common good. He also called on Catholics to consider the needs of people not only in this country, but also in every part of the world.

He said Catholics are not single-issue voters, but also emphasized that not all issues have equal moral weight. He said certain issues rest on foundational moral principles, including the right to life and the dignity of human life. He said these issues do not admit of exception, are never permissible and must always be opposed, citing the intrinsic evils of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

“Certain issues have unique status and must weigh more heavily on the Catholic conscience. As Catholics, then, we do not weigh a wide range of issues against abortion and euthanasia and consider whether they cumulatively outweigh the intrinsic evil of taking an innocent human life, since this intrinsic evil can never be justified.

Bishop said that while we must attempt to address the root causes of abortion, including economic conditions, this approach alone is inadequate. “[T]o say, ‘I will address those factors that might have the benefit of reducing abortion, but will not oppose the very laws that permit it,’ is not only unpersuasive, it also is an illogical and unsustainable position. Substitute the word racism or slavery for abortion in the above sentence to see how the argument crumbles under the weight of incoherenceâEUR¦.Simply put, our concern for the dignity of the human person already born is rendered moot if we do not place first concern on the right of that person to be born.”

He also said, “Our protection of the unborn loses credibility if we do not care for the rights and needs of the person already born.” He said this requires that Catholics work to address root causes of abortion, alleviating the conditions that might discourage a woman from carrying a pregnancy to term, and supporting those who may feel anxious or troubled by a pregnancy.

In concluding the letter, Bishop said he hoped and prayed that “we will have the courage of our convictions, that we will not hesitate or falter as we seek the common good and promote the dignity of human life.”