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Catholic Teaching on Voting for Pro-Abortion Candidates
Part 2

Abortion, Euthanasia and Marriage Non-Negotiable Voting Issues: Catholic Leadership Conference

By Hilary White

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, September 15, 2008 ( - Although some issues, like taxation and immigration, can leave room for differing opinions, Catholic voters must remember the primacy of the life and death issues of abortion and euthanasia, said a group of prominent US Catholics this week.

The Catholic Leadership Conference, a yearly gathering of some of the nation's most influential Catholics, has issued a statement for Catholic voters, saying that Catholics must always be guided in their political participation by the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.

The taking of innocent life through abortion, euthanasia, or at the embryonic stage for medical research, can never be supported, says the statement. They are "intrinsically evil and violate the Natural Law, since they always involve the direct and intentional taking of innocent human life."

"Such acts are always to be avoided and abhorred in positive law and public policy."

The primacy of these issues, the group says, means that they must be the first considered by voters. Catholic voters must base their decisions "on issues which admit of no prudential judgment, such as direct abortion, the obligation to protect marriage between a man and a woman."

The statement comes in the context of the last weeks before a US presidential election, in which the issue of abortion is no longer clearly divided along religious fault lines. Two prominent Catholic Democrats, including the party's candidate for vice-president, have been roundly chastised by their bishops for defying the Church and the findings of modern science on abortion.

At the same time, Sarah Palin, the running mate to Republican candidate John McCain, has impressed many Catholics as having a position more in line with the Catholic Church's position, even though she is an Evangelical Protestant.

From their meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, the group says that although some issues are of more moral weight than others, and there is room on some for "prudential" judgment, the life issues are unchallengeable.

The group also responded to the frustration of many in the pro-life and pro-family movement with voters' guides issued by the US Catholic Bishops Conference. In the past, the bishops have declined to make moral distinctions between issues on which disagreement can legitimately be made, and those that admit of no possible discussion. These voters' guides have allowed Catholic voters and politicians alike to claim that issues like immigration and taxation are on a moral par with the killing of the unborn.

In other cases, some Catholic voters' guides have implied that on issues of immigration and defence, the far left, or most "liberal" position is the only acceptable one for Catholics. The signatories of the Catholic Leadership Conference's statement remind voters, however, that there is room on such non-critical issues for disagreement.

Catholic voters, they said, should remember that, unlike issues of life and death, "there is no single 'Catholic' position on issues like immigration, taxes, education, and delivery of medical care, in the sense of a specific policy approach, which all Catholics must espouse."

The Catholic Leadership Conference is an annual event for the heads of dozens of US Catholic organisations, representing millions of Catholic voters. The statement was endorsed unanimously by all attending the event. Signatories included Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life; Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center; William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; Catholic publisher and presidential advisor Deal Hudson; Tom Monaghan, founder of Ave Maria University; Bishops Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon.

Fr. Terence Henry, the president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Christendom College president, Timothy T. O'Donnell, and Belmont Abbey College President, Dr. William K. Thierfelder, were also signatories.

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