N.Y. bishops release statement on faithful citizenship - Catholic Courier

N.Y. bishops release statement on faithful citizenship

Responsible Catholics are obligated by their faith to vote in the upcoming elections next month, according to a statement released Oct. 1 by New York state’s eight bishops.

“Simply put, faithful citizenship refers to our duty as Catholics to be full participants in the public square in order to make our nation and the world a better and more just place. With this duty comes the responsibility to exercise our right to vote and to be engaged in the political process,” the bishops said in their statement, titled “Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty.”

Catholics are called to view life — including politics — through the lens of their faith, the statement says. This means that even though Catholics are free to join political parties, their votes should be guided by the Gospel and the teachings of the church, rather than by party loyalty or self-interest.

The bishops recognized that it is rare for any one politician or candidate to fall in line with church teachings on every single issue. However, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops noted in its recent guide, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” every issue does not carry the same moral weight. The right to life is the right through which all other rights flow, the New York bishops observed, thus this right carries the greatest moral gravity.

“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,” the New York bishops said.

People who support legal abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research — which are considered objective evils — are rejecting this right to life, they said. According to the U.S. bishops’ “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” people who “knowingly, willingly and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.”

Although the presidential race is usually the most well-publicized race on election day, races for congressional representatives and state legislators are just as important, the New York bishops observed. In fact, these races may be even more important than the presidential race because many of the most compelling issues of the day play out at the state level.

“Common-sense restrictions on abortion, whether or not to employ the death penalty, issues related to same-sex ‘marriage’ and civil unions, parental rights in education, programs to serve the poor, access to health insurance — all of these debates occur in the halls of our state Capitol in Albany. Your vote for state Senator and Assembly member may be as critical as your vote for president of the United States,” the bishops said.

The New York bishops included with their statement a list of questions to ask politicians about their positions on the right to life, parental rights in education, marriage, immigration reform, health care, tax credits and religious liberty. Before casting their votes, Catholics should learn how each candidate answers these key questions, the bishops said.

“While we as Church officials cannot and do not endorse candidates for office, we encourage you to properly form your conscience by reflecting on the moral and social teachings of our Church and we strongly urge you to vote on Nov. 4. For when we vote, we are exercising our cherished right and our solemn duty as Americans and as Catholics,” the bishops said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to view the entire statement and the bishops’ questions at the Web site of the New York State Catholic Conference.

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