1. Felicific Forest
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    On August 15, 2006 the four Catholic bishops of Kansas released a statement, “Moral Principles for Catholic Voters”, as a guide for Catholics in preparing to vote. Exercising their role as teachers.

    Moral Principles for Catholic Voters

    Part I

    Catholics live in the world, but they should not live by worldly values that give too much importance to power, possessions, and pleasure as ends in themselves (cf. 1 John 2:16). Catholics have the same rights and duties as other citizens, but are called to carry them out in light of the truth of faith and reason as taught by the Catholic Church. For example, they are called to respect human authority and obey those who govern society “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13-17).

    In a democratic society citizens choose whom they vest with authority for the common good. A choice for one person over another for public office can significantly affect many lives, especially the lives of the most vulnerable persons in society, such as children in the womb and those who are terminally ill. Therefore, Catholic citizens have a serious moral obligation to exercise their right to vote, whether on the national, state or local level. The Second Vatican Council taught us that “all citizens are to bear in mind that it is both their right and duty to use their free vote to promote the common good” (The Church in the Modern World 75). What is more, we have a duty to vote guided by a well-formed conscience, and not simply on the basis of self-interest, party affiliation, or the personal charisma of any individual.

    “Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17
  2. Felicific Forest
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    Part II

    THE DUTY TO FORM AND FOLLOW ONE'S CONSCIENCE

    We are conscientious voters when we are guided by our consciences. Conscience is a law “written” by God on our hearts that disposes us to love and to do good and avoid evil (cf. Romans 2:12-16). The conscience is like an inner voice that has the authority of the very voice of God. We have a serious duty to follow the guidance of conscience. To act against the judgment of conscience when it is certain about what is good and evil has the same seriousness as disobeying God. It is important to remember however that it is possible for our conscience to be certain and at the same time incorrect about what is good and evil.

    For this reason, we have an equally serious duty to properly form or teach our conscience so that it can correctly judge what is good and evil. We are obliged to seek the truth and then to abide by it. We need to make this inquiry all throughout our lives, as we grow and as the questions we face change or become more complicated. In seeking the truth, Catholics receive important guidance from the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters pertaining to faith and morals. We rely on the help of the Holy Spirit to apply these teachings to particular questions. In addition, we seek sound advice from others who share our values and who are informed on the issues.
  3. Felicific Forest
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    Part III

    PRUDENTIAL JUDGMENTS ON SOCIAL POLICY

    In some moral matters the use of reason allows for a legitimate diversity in our prudential judgments. Catholic voters may differ, for example, on what constitutes the best immigration policy, how to provide universal health care, or affordable housing. Catholics may even have differing judgments on the state’s use of the death penalty or the decision to wage a just war. The morality of such questions lies not in what is done (the moral object), but in the motive and circumstances. Therefore, because these prudential judgments do not involve a direct choice of something evil and take into consideration various goods, it is possible for Catholic voters to arrive at different, even opposing judgments.

    “All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:12-16

    Notwithstanding a possible diversity of prudential judgments, each of us should guide our decision-making on such issues by a fundamental respect for the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception to natural death. This is a non-negotiable principle. It is the foundation for both Catholic social teaching and of a just society. Respect for human dignity is the basis for the fundamental right to life. It is also the basis for the right to those things needed to live with dignity, for example, productive work and fair wages, food and shelter, education and health care, protection from harm, and the right to move from one country to another when these things are not available to us at home. Because of respect for the dignity of the human person, Catholics are obliged to come to the aid and defense of the defenseless, especially the poor. Another guiding principle is the defense and promotion of marriage as the unbreakable bond between one man and one woman. Society is only as healthy as is the institution of marriage and family.

    Good and evil in the above-mentioned issues can be determined by the use of right reason. While it is true that the Church’s teaching on these matters is clarified and strengthened by the light of the Gospel, throughout history persons of good will have understood these truths from reason alone, independent of the conviction of faith.
  4. Felicific Forest
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    Part IV

    JUDGMENTS CONCERNING MORAL EVILS

    A correct conscience recognizes that there are some choices that always involve doing evil and which can never be done even as a means to a good end. These choices include elective abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex “marriage.” Such acts are judged to be intrinsically evil, that is, evil in and of themselves, regardless of our motives or the circumstances. They constitute an attack against innocent human life, as well as marriage and family. Pope John Paul II warned that concern for the “right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination” (Christifideles Laici 38).

    Other examples of choices that always involve doing evil would be racial discrimination and the production and use of pornography. These actions offend the fundamental dignity of the human person.

    Concerning choices that are intrinsically evil, Catholics may not promote or even remain indifferent to them.
  5. Felicific Forest
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    Part V

    A CONSCIENTIOUS VOTER'S DILEMMA

    In light of the above, it is a correct judgment of conscience that we would commit moral evil if we were to vote for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on those actions that are intrinsically evil when there is a morally-acceptable alternative. What are we to do, though, when there is no such alternative?

    Because we have a moral obligation to vote, deciding not to vote at all is not ordinarily an acceptable solution to this dilemma. So, when there is no choice of a candidate that avoids supporting intrinsically evil actions, especially elective abortion, we should vote in such a way as to allow the least harm to innocent human life and dignity. We would not be acting immorally therefore if we were to vote for a candidate who is not totally acceptable in order to defeat one who poses an even greater threat to human life and dignity.

    Voting is a moral act. It involves duties and responsibilities. Our duty is to vote in keeping with a conscience properly formed by fundamental moral principles. As Bishops we are not telling Catholics which candidates they should vote for. Rather, we simply want to teach how we should form our consciences and consider the issues in light of these fundamental moral principles.

    + Joseph F. Naumann
    Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas

    + Ronald M. Gilmore
    Bishop of Dodge City

    + Paul S. Coakley
    Bishop of Salina

    + Michael O. Jackels
    Bishop of Wichita

    August 15, 2006
  6. Felicific Forest
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    Statement by the Colorado Catholic Conference

    Last month the Kansas Catholic bishops issued "Moral Principles for Catholic Voters," a reflection on applying our Catholic faith and moral convictions to our lives in the wider public square. For democracy to thrive, citizens need to act in accord with their beliefs. Anything less empties public life of its moral character.

    Thus, the duty of each citizen is to choose a course in every public issue guided by his or her conscience. This is a serious matter. For Catholics, conscience is never merely a matter of personal preference or opinion. Nor can conscience be formed in a vacuum. Conscience is shaped by our understanding of the truth. It should always be formed in the truth of Jesus Christ which, as Scripture reminds us, is embodied in the teaching of the Church. For Catholics, a "right conscience" can never be formed outside the guidance of their Catholic faith.

    We join the bishops of Kansas in their statement of principle, and we offer it to Colorado Catholics for their prayer, reflection and action.

    Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. , Archbishop of Denver

    Most Reverend Arthur N. Tafoya, D.D. , Bishop of Pueblo

    Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan, S.T.D. , Bishop of Colorado Springs
  7. Standard memberPalynka
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    25 Oct '06 16:24
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    A CONSCIENTIOUS VOTER'S DILEMMA

    In light of the above, it is a correct judgment of conscience that we would commit moral evil if we were to vote for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on those actions that are intrinsically evil when there is a morally-acceptable alternative. What are we to do, though, when there is no such alternative?
    Keep this line of thought and you'll soon find out that all religious people should create or vote for religious parties.
  8. Felicific Forest
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    Originally posted by Palynka
    Keep this line of thought and you'll soon find out that all religious people should create or vote for religious parties.
    ... not necessarily "religious" parties, but political parties who uphold the Sanctity of Human Life and the ensuing Dignity of the Human Person and who take as a fundament for their social policies the Social Teaching of the Roman-Catholic Church.



    Catholic Social Teaching: Major Themes

    The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. It offers moral principles and coherent values that are badly needed in our time. In this time of widespread violence and diminished respect for human life and dignity in our country and around the world, the Gospel of life and the biblical call to justice need to be proclaimed and shared with new clarity, urgency, and energy.
    Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents that explore and express the social demands of our faith. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents, many of which are cited in the Report of the Content Subgroup (pp. xx-xx). In these brief reflections, we wish to highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition. We hope they will serve as a starting point for those interested in exploring the Catholic social tradition more fully.


    Life and Dignity of the Human Person

    In a world warped by materialism and declining respect for human life, the Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and assisted suicide. The value of human life is being threatened by increasing use of the death penalty. The dignity of life is undermined when the creation of human life is reduced to the manufacture of a product, as in human cloning or proposals for genetic engineering to create "perfect" human beings. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.


    Call to Family, Community, and Participation

    In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. While our society often exalts individualism, the Catholic tradition teaches that human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Our Church teaches that the role of government and other institutions is to protect human life and human dignity and promote the common good.


    Rights and Responsibilities

    In a world where some speak mostly of "rights" and others mostly of "responsibilities," the Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. While public debate in our nation is often divided between those who focus on personal responsibility and those who focus on social responsibilities, our tradition insists that both are necessary.


    Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

    In a world characterized by growing prosperity for some and pervasive poverty for others, Catholic teaching proclaims that a basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.


    The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

    In a marketplace where too often the quarterly bottom line takes precedence over the rights of workers, we believe that the economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. Respecting these rights promotes an economy that protects human life, defends human rights, and advances the well-being of all.


    Solidarity

    Our culture is tempted to turn inward, becoming indifferent and sometimes isolationist in the face of international responsibilities. Catholic social teaching proclaims that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means learning that "loving our neighbor" has global dimensions in an interdependent world. This virtue is described by John Paul II as "a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, no. 38).


    Care for God's Creation

    On a planet conflicted over environmental issues, the Catholic tradition insists that we show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God's creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.



    This teaching is a complex and nuanced tradition with many other important elements. Principles like "subsidiarity" and the "common good" outline the advantages and limitations of markets, the responsibilities and limits of government, and the essential roles of voluntary associations. These and other key principles are outlined in greater detail in the Catechism and in the attached Report of the Content Subgroup (see pp. xx-xx). These principles build on the foundation of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of human life. This central Catholic principle requires that we measure every policy, every institution, and every action by whether it protects human life and enhances human dignity, especially for the poor and vulnerable.

    These moral values and others outlined in various papal and episcopal documents are part of a systematic moral framework and a precious intellectual heritage that we call Catholic social teaching. The Scriptures say, "Without a vision the people perish" (Prv 29:18). As Catholics, we have an inspiring vision in our social teaching. In a world that hungers for a sense of meaning and moral direction, this teaching offers ethical criteria for action. In a society of rapid change and often confused moral values, this teaching offers consistent moral guidance for the future. For Catholics, this social teaching is a central part of our identity. In the words of John Paul II, it is "genuine doctrine" (Centesimus Annus, no. 5).

    There will be legitimate differences and debate over how these challenging moral principles are applied in concrete situations. Differing prudential judgments on specifics cannot be allowed, however, to obscure the need for every Catholic to know and apply these principles in family, economic, and community life.


    http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/projects/socialteaching/socialteaching.htm
  9. Standard memberXanthosNZ
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    Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
    Unless of course it's the option to have an abortion rather than a child they cannot support.
  10. Standard memberPalynka
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    26 Oct '06 14:37
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    ... not necessarily "religious" parties, but political parties [...]who take as a fundament for their social policies the Social Teaching of the Roman-Catholic Church.
    How can a party be non-religious if it is funded on the official position of a religion?
  11. Felicific Forest
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    26 Oct '06 16:03
    Originally posted by Palynka
    How can a party be non-religious if it is funded on the official position of a religion?
    If you read the essentials of Roman-Catholic Social teaching, which I have posted in one of my messages above, you'll realise that these principles can be adhered to by secular people as well. Also Muslims, Jewish people and people of other religions can be in favour of them.

    In fact it is possible for all people of good will, religious or secular, to advocate the principles of Christian Social teaching.
  12. Felicific Forest
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    26 Oct '06 16:12
    Originally posted by XanthosNZ
    [b]Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
    Unless of course it's the option to have an abortion rather than a child they cannot support.[/b]
    You forget the simple fact that the unborn child is one of the most vulnerable human beings. Looking around you, you'll establish that indeed this section of the human family is in need of protection and care. Mothers who have become pregnant should not get the advice to abort, to kill, their child, but help and care should be provided to them in order to make it possible that they are not forced by the circumstances and maybe by their husbands, partners or family to proceed with the traumatic experience of having to kill their own child. The mothers in question are also vulnerable people and need care and protection, especially when they are poor.
  13. Standard memberPalynka
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    26 Oct '06 16:261 edit
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    If you read the essentials of Roman-Catholic Social teaching, which I have posted in one of my messages above, you'll realise that these principles can be adhered to by secular people as well. Also Muslims, Jewish people and people of other religions can be in favour of them.

    In fact it is possible for all people of good will, religious or secular, to advocate the principles of Christian Social teaching.
    So I'm not a person of good will. Great. Now that we've established that, what you've detailed there as principles are basically meaningless because they are too abstract and general. In the only stance where concrete examples are given (abortion, assisted suicide) you would realize that both sides of the issue defend a completely different notion of 'Life and Dignity' and therefore would agree on the words, but not on what they entail.

    So, unless you detail what you mean by those principles, they are meaningless. And any party that follows the details of religious dogma is a religious party.
  14. Standard memberPalynka
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    26 Oct '06 16:29
    But worst of all is defining as 'evil' disagreement with Catholic dogma on some issues.
  15. Felicific Forest
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    26 Oct '06 16:471 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    So I'm not a person of good will. Great. Now that we've established that, what you've detailed there as principles are basically meaningless because they are too abstract and general. In the only stance where concrete examples are given (abortion, assisted suicide) you would realize that both sides of the issue defend a completely different notion of 'Life a eaningless. And any party that follows the details of religious dogma is a religious party.
    Palynka: "So I'm not a person of good will."

    I never stated such a thing and I never implied such a thing either .... please.

    Palynks: "..... what you've detailed there as principles are basically meaningless because they are too abstract and general."

    Are they ? I do not agree.

    Palynka: "So, unless you detail what you mean by those principles, they are meaningless."

    I'll see if there are any internet sites explaining them. It is quite a job you know to do what you just asked.

    The best, the most complete and the most instructive site I can think of is the one where the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" is being presented, not by a third party but by the Church herself.

    If you are genuinly interested in what the Social doctrine really entails, I would like to recommend to you the reading of the following Church document.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html


    Palynka: "And any party that follows the details of religious dogma is a religious party."

    As I explained to you above that is not necessarily true.


    The Social doctrine of the Church is not just built on faith but also on human reason. Everybody, secular or religious, should be able to follow and adhere to the reasoning in question, because of this very fact.
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