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THE BISHOP'S VOICE: Are Catholics single-issue voters?

10/02/2020 | Comments

For many weeks now, virtually every bishop in the country — myself included — has been bombarded with letters asking that we speak loudly and clearly regarding the upcoming presidential election.  We expect those letters every four years, but this year’s elections are particularly critical. 

In the previous issue of The Colorado Catholic Herald I highlighted the difficulties that present themselves as we go to the polls. There are many issues of extreme importance that will engage every serious voter.  As I have been reminded by the letters that I have received, we are not “single issue” voters. True enough, but, as I pointed out in my previous column, all the issues are not of equal moral weight. They must be critically assessed with a well-formed conscience. 

A well-formed conscience is not the inner urging to do what I think — or what I feel — is right. A well-formed conscience enables us to choose the good, as the good is proclaimed by Sacred Scripture, the Church’s Tradition and the teaching of the magisterium. To claim any decision that is not in conformity with those guides is to decide with a badly formed conscience. This means that any serious Catholic must know what the Church teaches relative to the many issues that present themselves. We are Catholics first and partisan voters second. Our political affiliations must not form our consciences. Rather, it must be the other way around.

Prior to each presidential election year the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops publishes a voter guide, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” The current iteration of that document reads thus: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed”. . . Additionally, abortion contaminates many other important issues by being inserted into legislation regarding immigration, care for the poor, and health care reform” (emphasis added).

To teach that abortion in the preeminent priority in this election year is not new. This has been the teaching of the Church since Roe v. Wade declared that the crime of the murder of pre-born babies is a right. The murder of the innocent has never been a right, and SCOTUS cannot make it so. Yes, abortion is the preeminent issue that must compel above all others the decisions made by our Catholic electorate. To say that abortion is the preeminent issue does not mean that it is the only issue, but it surpasses by far all others in importance.

I have urged our pastors to insert into their Sunday bulletins the pertinent excerpts from both the Democratic and Republican platforms regarding abortion and other very important issues. In the event that you do not see that insert, you should know that the Democratic Party platform calls for the “right” of every woman to “safe and legal abortion” and the elimination of all federal and state laws that create barriers to that ”right.” In addition, the platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited for the last 25 years the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. 

With the anticipated confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice, we will have taken a giant step toward the undoing of Roe v. Wade. Here in Colorado we have the opportunity in November to maintain that momentum and put a stop to abortions in our state after the 22nd week of gestation. Vote YES on Proposition 115.

Please pray, that by means of our votes in November, God will give us the leaders that will begin to turn our country back to God and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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