Catholics Find Voting Guides a Test of Allegiance
The Arizona Daily Star addresses the dueling Catholic voter guides:
With at least seven voting guides for Catholics in circulation, this election season could be a confusing one for members of Tucson's largest organized religious group.My Comments:
Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas is recommending local Catholics stick to just two of the voting guides — one published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops titled "Faithful Citizenship," and the other from the Arizona Catholic Conference, which is the public policy agency for the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Tucson, Phoenix and Gallup, N.M.
But at least five other guides for Catholics are available, including two that talk about abortion and gay marriage as "not negotiable" for Catholic voters. Internal Revenue Service guidelines allow churches to publish voter guides, but they are not allowed to endorse a particular person or party.
The allegiance of Catholics in the upcoming election is considered important in an era in which moral values are closely tied to public policy. Many political experts consider them a powerful voting bloc, with nearly 70 million baptized members and an estimated 27 percent of the electorate.
One of the more conservative guides, "Catholics in the Public Square," was published by Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. The other conservative guide was published by the California-based Catholic apologists' group Catholic Answers. A third conservative guide was published by the New York-based Priests for Life group.
A more liberal guide, published by the Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, says responsible voting is not best decided with a "litmus test" of selected issues. The guide has been criticized by conservative Catholic groups, which say abortion is always the most important public policy issue for Catholic voters.
Voting guides for Catholics
● The Arizona Catholic Conference, the public policy agency for Arizona's three bishops, has a voting guide that surveys Arizona's candidates in the 2006 General Election. See it at www.diocesephoenix.org/
● Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a Washington, D.C.-based group of Catholics published "Voting for the Common Good." See it at www.thecatholicalliance.org
● Catholic Answers, a California-based apologetics group has a "Voters Guide for Serious Catholics." See it at www.catholic.com/
● The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a guide titled "Faithful Citizenship." See it at www.usccb.org/faithful
● Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted on Saturday released a booklet titled "Catholics in the Public Square" for worshippers in the Phoenix diocese. A news summary is available at www.diocesephoenix.org/
● The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, which operates under the auspices of the worldwide order of Maryknoll priests, nuns, brothers and lay missioners, published "The 2006 Elections: Becoming a Global Good Neighbor." See it at www.maryknollogc.org/
● The Rev. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, a vocal group in the Catholic campaign to end legal abortion, published "Voting With a Clear Conscience." See it at priestsforlife.org/vote/votingwithclearconscience.htm
Interesting that Bishop Olmsted would feel the need to go to all the trouble of writing a voting guide of his own when the Conference to which he belongs has already published one.
Was Bishop Olmsted's voting guide, "Catholics in the Public Square" meant to be a "dissenting opinion" from the voting guide prepared by the Arizona Catholic Conference of which he is a member?
On second thought, now that I've taken a closer look at the Arizona Catholic Conference voting guide, it does seem to be different in kind than what Bishop Olmsted published. It is a guide to the voting records of the various candidates for all levels of public office in Arizona, as opposed to a guide that is meant to instruct the faithful on how to exercise their voting responsibilities.
So, maybe Bishop Olmsted's guide is meant to be a supplement to what the Arizona Catholic Conference put out, as opposed to a "dissenting opinion".
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Dueling Catholic Voter Guides
More on Catholic Voter Guides
Columnist: "Christian Right Driving Wedge Into US"
More From Amy Welborn on the "Dueling Catholic Voter Guides"
"Catholics in the Public Square" by Bishop Olmsted