Monday October 18, 2010

NY Catholic Bishops: Right to Life Outweighs other Concerns in Voting

By Peter J. Smith

NEW YORK, October 18, 2010 ( – New York’s Catholic Bishops are telling the state’s Catholics this year that the right to life must be their first concern when they step into the voting booth in November, not party loyalty or other issues where good people may differ in opinion or judgment.

The pastoral letter “Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty,” signed by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and seven other New York state bishops, says Catholics must be “cautious” when they cast votes this election, so as “not to be guided solely by party loyalty or by self interest.”

While state and national officials will have great influence on issues important to the voting Catholic, such as foreign policy, war and peace, the right to life, education, and “how we treat the poor and the vulnerable,” the bishops emphasize that “not every issue is of equal moral gravity.”

In fact, the bishops make clear that while it is “rare” for a candidate to agree with the Church on all these issues, it is the right to life that has to rank number one in Catholics’ minds at the voting booth.

“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all,” they state.

“The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office,” they continue. “As Faithful Citizenship teaches, ‘Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.’”

The letter admits that the job of investigating where the candidates stand on the issues is no easy task.

“Yet our state is facing many critical issues which are of vital concern to faithful Catholics,” they emphasize. “Thus it is absolutely necessary for good citizens to take a careful look at every candidate and to vote accordingly for the better candidates.”

The letter also provides a whole list of questions for Catholics to consider in forming their consciences before entering the voting booth, under the following headings: “The Right to Life,” “Parental Rights in Education,” “Protecting Marriage,” “Immigration Reform,” “Access to Health Care,” “Protecting the Poor,” and “Religious Liberty.”

The bishops provide a list of all candidates for elected office at the website for the New York Catholic Conference.

The letter is signed by Timothy Dolan Archbishop of New York; Howard Hubbard Bishop of Albany; Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn; Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo; Terry R. LaValley, Bishop of Ogdensburg; Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse; Matthew H. Clark, Bishop of Rochester, and William F. Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre.

The letter is available both in English and Spanish.

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