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October 3, 2012

By Amanda Conklin
Contributing writer

Respect Life Month is more monumental this year than ever before. January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in our nation. We have endured 40 years of our children being killed in the womb and 40 years of families being scarred by the pain of abortion.
Life issues are also at the forefront of debates as a Presidential election nears.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a document entitled “Faithful Citizenship.” This document contains guidelines for Catholics to consider when voting and explains how our vocation includes being an active citizen.

Many criticize Catholics for putting a huge emphasis on abolishing abortion when determining which political candidate to vote for. Some refer to these Catholics as “single-issue voters.” The USCCB does a great job at addressing this in the document:
In paragraph 42. “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

Many have said that abortion is the greatest evil of our time. While there are many important issues to think about when voting, abortion is certainly one of the most heart-wrenching intrinsic evils. In fact, if a Catholic citizen knowingly votes for a candidate who supports abortion they are indirectly participating in the sin themselves.

The USCCB highlights this in paragraph 34: “Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”

There are many life issues to consider in this upcoming election: abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, cloning, outreach to the poor, healthcare access and even war. Because of this, voting can often be a stressful and confusing time for Catholics.

I encourage all Catholics to read this document in its entirety before making their decision. I would also like to point out that the document highlights that in certain cases, it may very reasonable for someone to choose not to vote.

Being Catholic is not a feeling, it is not merely part of someone’s ethnic heritage, it is not a hobby. Being Catholic is intrinsic to our being, part of who we are. Being Catholic means sharing in the beautiful, liberating, ancient, tradition, that is the Church.

The pope, cardinals and bishops are here to adhere to Christ’s plan for the Church and to help guide us in our important decisions, such as voting, with our rich tradition as a roadmap. I urge you to listen to the voice of the Church when considering life issues during this Respect Life Month and especially in November at election time.
(A link to the Faithful Citizenship document is available at www.usccb.org)

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