USCCB News Release
September 2, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Dioceses Gear Up For November Election By Promoting Conscience Formation, Political Participation
WASHINGTON—As the November election approaches, Catholic dioceses around the country are stepping up efforts to help Catholics understand Church social teaching and get them out to vote with a well-formed conscience.
Efforts revolve around Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ document approved last November, and related materials that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has made available.
Some, like the Dioceses of Evansville, Ind., and Brownsville, Texas, have decided to publish the document as a series in their diocesan newspaper. Others, like the Archdiocese of Chicago, have published Faithful Citizenship sidebars throughout the year in their archdiocesan paper. The archdiocese also published a two-page summary of the statement and a series of articles by USCCB experts on topics ranging from embryonic stem cell research to immigration, abortion, poverty and global warming.
In most dioceses the approach is multimedia. The diocese of Fargo, N.D., has sponsored interviews and public service announcements on AM 1370 Catholic Radio, and will sponsor a roundtable discussion just before the election on the same radio station. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo is also writing a column for the diocesan newspaper addressing the responsibility of Catholics to form their consciences for participation in public life. Similarly, the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., has produced a two-part radio interview with a local moral theologian that will air on four stations on consecutive Sundays in September; the diocese also is publishing Faithful Citizenship columns on its Web page and in the diocesan newspaper, the Western New York Catholic, up until the election.
The Diocese of Worcester, Mass., has turned a half hour-cable show interview with Bishop Robert McManus into a DVD and put together a discussion guide to be used at adult faith formation gatherings in September. Similarly, the Diocese of Austin, Texas, recorded a talk in mid-August by Bishop Gregory Aymond on a DVD and made it available to diocesan parishes. Like Bishop Aymond, many Catholic bishops are promoting the Novena for Faithful Citizenship, a nine-day prayer resource available at the bishops’ Web site. Austin also has an ongoing Faithful Citizenship task force that works year long, focusing on the ongoing nature of the teaching.
The Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., has identified a Sunday in mid-September as "Faithful Citizenship Sunday." Copies of the Faithful Citizenship DVD are being given to each parish and pastors are being urged to show the DVD after Mass and at other appropriate times.
The Diocese of Manchester, N.H., has developed the document Conscience and Your Vote, a question and answer resource for Catholics and other interested persons regarding participation in the political process. The diocese also has created a special Web page (www.catholicnh.org/vote) devoted to Catholic social teaching and the election. A letter from Bishop McCormack on the importance of voting, information on how to register to vote, articles on Catholic social teaching and links to the Faithful Citizenship Web site can also be found on the page.
The Diocese of San Diego has developed a voter guide called "November 2008, As A Catholic, How Do I Decide?" Recently, the Office of Social Ministry in San Diego began offering non-partisan voter registration at the parish level, which will be ongoing. Mindful of the importance of the Hispanic vote, the diocese is producing all of its materials in English and Spanish. So is the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., whose diocesan newspaper will be publishing the Faithful Citizenship series of articles in both languages.
The Colorado Catholic Conference is also doing a major voter registration and get out the vote drive in all three dioceses in the state.
Youth and young adult ministries in Detroit, Oklahoma City, Wilmington, Del., Rochester, Minn., and parish ministries such as St. Stephen’s in Bradshaw, Md. are also reaching out to young adults for discussion of Catholic social teaching and the issues highlighted in Faithful Citizenship.
Among those who decided to take the promotion to the public square are the local division of the Legion of Mary in Pueblo, Colo. who decided to use their yearly booth at the Colorado State Fair this summer to promote the message of Faithful Citizenship.