WASHINGTON (October 26, 2007)—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider an updated statement on faith and politics at their 2007 November general meeting. The proposed statement focuses on the bishops' role in helping to form consciences in political life.
"In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote," the draft states. "Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God's truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election."
Every four years for more than 30 years, the USCCB Administrative Committee has produced an overview of the Church's teaching on political life, referred to as their statement on "faithful citizenship" or on "political responsibility." Over the years, this statement has been widely used by dioceses, parishes, and other institutions. Since the current version was approved in 2003, more than 1.3 million copies of the statement, brochure and related resources have been sold by USCCB Publishing. Many more have been copied and distributed locally.
This year, the proposed document on "faithful citizenship" will be reviewed and voted on by all of the bishops of the United States. The draft to be discussed in November includes a full statement as well as a brief summary for use as a bulletin insert. It will demonstrate both continuity and change and focus on elements of Catholic teaching that are particularly important today.
The draft affirms the importance of participation in political life. It explains the necessity of opposing actions that are intrinsically wrong, such as abortion and euthanasia, and affirms the obligation to promote the common good by combating such threats to human life and dignity as hunger, poverty, racism, unjust immigration policies, and unjust war.
The proposed draft also urges Catholics "to become more involved: running for office, working within political parties, and communicating concerns to elected officials." It suggests that Catholics should be "guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group." As they prepare for the elections, the draft says "Catholic voters should use Catholic teaching to examine candidates' positions on issues and should consider candidates' integrity, philosophy, and performance."
The draft provides 10 goals for Catholics and others to consider during the campaign and beyond. It also summarizes positions taken by the USCCB on a wide range of public issues.
To obtain a copy of the draft, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, contact the Department of Media Relations 202-541-3200 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The bishops' meeting will be November 12-15, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Coverage of the meeting will be open to credentialed media. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form from the Web at
(http://www.usccb.org/comm/credentialform.pdf) and submit it by November 5 via fax (202-541-3173) or mail it to:
November Meeting Media Credentials
Dept. of Communications
3211 4th St., NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194.