Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Archbishop Chaput Not Satisfied With Proposed New USCCB Document on Voting

(Hat tip: American Papist)

More on the proposed new USCCB voter guide from the Associated Press (via The Washington Post):
... Throughout the 37-page document, opposition to abortion gets special attention.

"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the draft says.

At the same time, the bishops say Catholics must not dismiss racism, the death penalty, unjust war, torture, hunger, health care problems or unjust immigration policy.

"A consistent ethic of life," the document says, "neither treats all issues as morally equivalent nor reduces Catholic teaching to one or two issues."

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, one of the country's most vocal bishops about Catholics' need to speak in the public square, criticized the previous version of "Faithful Citizenship" for not being strong enough in underlining abortion's pre-eminence.

Chaput said in an e-mail Tuesday the revised document "is better and clearer than any version in the recent past" but isn't ideal. He said would be offering suggestions, but wouldn't be specific.

Chaput wrote that "all bricks in a building are important, but the ones in the foundation support everything else. The latter aren't just important; they're indispensable."

The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said the anti-abortion group is "grateful to the bishops for this document, and for pointing out that abortion is not just one issue among many; it attacks the very foundation of all our rights."

Some independent Catholics groups have taken to distributing their own voter education guides in recent years. Among them are Priests for Life and California-based Catholic Answers, which distributed material on five "nonnegotiable" issues: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage.

A group formed in 2006, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, produced an alternative guide that also highlighted church teachings on war, poverty and social justice...

My Comments:
In addressing the role of Catholics in public policymaking, the Holy Father has stated unequivocally on a number of occasions (most significantly in his encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis) that there are, indeed, certain issues that are "not negotiable":
83. Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232). (emphasis added)
Now if the Holy Father, in the context of addressing the responsibilities of the Catholic faithful in the public square, has chosen to describe certain public policy issues as being "not negotiable", surely a new USCCB document addressing the responsibilities of the Catholic faithful in the public square should at least make note of the fact, right?

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Catholic Bishops’ Taxing Task: Election-Year Statement

Bishops' Document to Offer New Guidance on Catholics' Political Role

Vox Nova on Voter's Guides

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

Catholics Find Voting Guides a Test of Allegiance

Toledo Blade: "Catholic Voting Guide Gives Church Perspective"

Weigel: "An Electoral Battle of the Booklets?"

What's Missing?

"Not An Approved Catholic Voter Guide"

Kentucky Parishes Cautioned on Partisan Political Activity

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At 10/31/2007 8:30 AM, Anonymous M.Z. Forrest said...

I'm surprised there are bishops already stating their objections publicly on a document that isn't even completed. Either Abp Chaput is disregarding custom or there is significant disagreement in the conference.

My own guess is that there will be plenty to like and dislike about the document regardless of one's politics. I have seen several folks cite Sacramentum Caritatas as well "DOCTRINAL NOTE
on some questions regarding
The Participation of Catholics in Political Life" from the CDF. To borrow from the latter, these documents are generally premised under "On the level of concrete political action, there can generally be a plurality of political parties in which Catholics may exercise – especially through legislative assemblies – their right and duty to contribute to the public life of their country." You and I both know this is describing a parliamentry system. This is not to say that American voters have carte blanche; we do however probably have greater freedom than our European counterparts. One should also note the condemnation offered extends only to the politicians who vote for non-negotiables. There is no mention of non-negotiable candidates.

At 10/31/2007 11:29 AM, Blogger Brian said...


When we consider the guidance being put forward, all Christians should really think twice about voting for any Democrat. Here in southeastern Ohio we have Rep. Charlie Wilson, a democrat and Christian of the Latin Rite and for all I can see he is an abiding Christian. But since he is on the same team as the culture of death, I believe that by voting for him aids the culture of death because strength is in numbers. I have a big problem even voting for my township trustee candidate who may be the most stalwart Baptist and pro-life, but is a democrat. The only way I will vote for a democrat at this point is when the party stands for all life.

I wonder if other readers of your weblog have had the same thought.

Best regards,

One Oar in the Water


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