WASHINGTON (August 20, 2004) — The connection between faith and participation in the political process is receiving renewed attention among Catholics and others in this election year.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released a bulletin insert summarizing the bishops' teaching on the role of Catholics in the public arena. The new insert is designed in a convenient and inexpensive format that can be widely distributed in parish bulletins and other settings. Based on the bishops' statement Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility, the new bulletin insert is intended to help the bishops meet their goal of preparing the Catholic community to reflect on what it means to be a "faithful citizen," to use their voices and votes to protect human life and dignity, and to promote justice and peace.
The insert is the latest step in a significant effort to share the bishops' statement, Faithful Citizenship. The statement was issued in September, 2003. In February 2004 a brochure was produced and parish kits were sent to every Catholic parish in the country. Sixty dioceses have hosted, or will host, training sessions for priests, deacons and lay leaders. More than 325,000 copies of the statement and related resources have been sold.
The new bulletin insert suggests that in an election year, "We need a new kind of politics—focused on moral principles, not the polls; on the needs of the vulnerable, not the contributions of the powerful; and on the pursuit of the common good, not the demands of special interests."
It urges voters "to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or self-interest. As bishops, we do not wish to instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates. We hope that voters will examine candidates on the full range of issues and on their personal integrity, philosophy, and performance."
Affirming that in Catholic teaching abortion and euthanasia are "pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity," the insert also suggests that during this election year, "politics should be about an old idea with new power—the common good. The question should not be, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' It should be, 'How can 'we'—all of us—especially the weak and vulnerable—be better off in the years ahead?'"
The bulletin insert provides 10 questions for Catholics and others to consider during the campaign. It also summarizes key issues for this year and beyond.
For more information about Faithful Citizenship resources and strategies, go to www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship. To obtain copies of The Challenge of Faithful Citizenship bulletin insert, call USCCB Publishing at 800-235-8722 or visit www.usccb.org/publishing.