SIOUX FALLS, August 9, 2004 ( – Released today is a statement by Bishop Robert J. Carlson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota which explains clearly the moral obligations of Catholics in voting for political candidates.  The bishop refutes those who suggest that a politician’s stand on abortion is only one consideration among many when deciding for whom to cast your vote.  “There is a faulty thinking today that all life issues are equal or the same. Even some priests and religious and a few politicians try to promote this,” writes Bishop Carlson.  He stresses that, “teaching of the church, which corresponds with reality and the natural law, is that all life issues are not equal or the same. In fact, there is one which is primary, life itself. It is so basic and foundational that if it is not upheld, all other issues and rights are meaningless. Opposition to abortion binds every Catholic under pain of mortal sin and admits of no exceptions.”  In the statement he recalls that in October 2000 he stated that one cannot vote for a politician who is pro-abortion (when one has a choice) and remain a Catholic in good standing.  The Bishop warned, “Understand that this is not simply one bishop’s opinion, but is the truth as revealed to us through the church founded by Christ.”  Bishop Carlson pointed to a recent letter by Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger which noted that “Catholics would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present themselves for Holy Communion, if they were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stance on abortion or euthanasia.” Bishop Carlson explains, “this would separate one from the community of the Church.”  Bishop Carlson further explains that “If one had a properly formed conscience admitting the grave evil of abortion and euthanasia, as the Church teaches, and does not share a candidates stand in favor of abortion and euthanasia, but votes for the candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation which can be permitted, Cardinal Ratzinger states, if proportionate reasons are present, e.g., the candidate would limit abortions.”  Nearing the end of the statement Bishop Carlson pronounces policy that is being formerly and publicly emphasized by an increasing number of US bishops. The bishop states that those who do not uphold the Church’s pro-life stand are not be placed in leadership roles within his diocese.  “In the Diocese of Sioux Falls, those who act in defiance of these fundamental principles of life should not be honored or invited to speak at Catholic colleges, schools or parishes, or hold any office such as lector, Eucharist Minister, usher, parish council member or religious education teacher.”  See Bishop Carlson’s full statement: