By John Connolly

SAN FRANCISCO, December 19, 2007 ( –  Following in the footsteps of the USCCB document “Faithful Citizenship,” Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco released a timely and strong document affirming Church teaching concerning the role of Christianity in politics and mapping out the duties of the Catholic faithful as citizens.

The question-and-answer format document, titled “Religion and Politics – 2008,” was released now because the Archbishop did not want it to be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of any one candidate.

“I believe it is appropriate to address some basic questions about the relationship between religion and politics,” he wrote. “And to do so now, before candidates have been nominated and party platforms completed, so that we can look at these questions for their own value, and not misinterpret them as veiled endorsements or condemnations.”

Niederauer urged Catholics to be active in political life, asserting that “shrugging cynically and strolling away from any involvement is not a proper response for a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Though Catholics should be involved in political life, Niederauer cautioned citizens to maintain intellectual independence from their political parties in order to maintain the integrity of their Christian perspective and ability to convert those political entities they come into contact with.

“Ideally, of course, individual members of a party or movement should transform it by a thoughtful application of moral principles, rather than being transformed by it,” he wrote. “In addition, Catholics bring important assets to political dialogue: a consistent moral framework based in human reason, the Scriptures and Church teaching, and broad experience in serving those in need.”

The document outlined two main errors that Catholic voters typically fall into, both addressed in “Faithful Citizenship,” published by the USCCB.

“The first consists in making no distinctions among different kinds of moral issues involving human life and dignity,” he said. “Such an error would lead someone to conclude that all issues have equal weight. For example, a politician might say in effect to Catholic voters, ‘Well, I ’ m with you on raising the minimum wage, so can’t you cut me some slack on abortion and physician – assisted suicide?’

“The second error to be avoided consists of reducing Catholic moral and social teaching to one or two issues, and refusing to be concerned about a wide range of issues.”

“Religion and Politics – 2008” notably did not mention homosexuality, an issue with which Niederauer has a history of being soft-line. In October, he was caught on film giving Holy Communion to members of the Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence, a group of transvestite men who publicly mock Catholic religious orders by posing as nuns. Niederauer apologized for distributing Communion to them, claiming he did not know the “strangely dressed” men were members of the group, which was publicly condemned by his predecessor.

The document, however, sends a strong message concerning pro-life issues. Niederauer reaffirmed the importance of euthanasia and abortion as issues that threaten the life of the populace, and decried the media for hypocrisy whenever bishops condemn these practices.

“In this country we can all name newspapers that applaud bishops who oppose the death penalty as courageous moral leaders, and condemn as intrusive dogmatists those same spokesmen when they oppose physician – assisted suicide,” wrote Niederauer. “Actually, Catholic social teaching does not fit easily into ideologies of  ‘right’ and ‘left,’ or the platform of any one political party. We do not trim our teaching of fundamental moral principles to fit the demands of our critics, so they in turn blow hot and cold toward us.”

See Full Text of Document:

See Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:

Archbishop Tells Catholic Church to Remove Thank-you from Transvestite ‘Sister’ from Online Version of Bulletin

Apologizing San Francisco Archbishop Has History of “mistakes” Related to Homosexuality

San Francisco Archbishop Responds After Caught on Video Giving Communion to Gay Men Dressed as Nuns