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Hudson & Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 10: Consequences for Alphabetical Voter Guides

By Deal W Hudson and Keith A Fournier
October 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Last November, the bishops added a "New Introduction" to "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." They wrote that "Faithful Citizenship," "does not offer a quantitative listing of issues for equal consideration, but outlines and makes important distinctions among moral issues acknowledging that some involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified and that others require action to pursue justice and promote the common good."

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The appearance of the 'alphabetical' voter guides from the state Catholic conferences prompted us to call it "the biggest story, thus far, in the 2012 election for Catholic voters."

With ten days until Nov. 6, the widespread use of that "authorized" voter guide remains the biggest story. Why? The paid, official representatives of the bishops issued a document that explicitly ignores the wishes of the bishops. Last November, the bishops added a "New Introduction" to "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." They wrote that "Faithful Citizenship,"

"does not offer a quantitative listing of issues for equal consideration, but outlines and makes important distinctions among moral issues acknowledging that some involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified and that others require action to pursue justice and promote the common good." (emphasis added)

But, a quantitative presentation of the issues is precisely what some state Catholic conferences prepared for the 2012 election. At this very moment, that guide is on display at thousands of parishes across the United States. 

We've already reported on the rationale given by one state conference director for employing the alphabetical "protocol." The head of another state conference states in a press release: "The Church neither endorses nor opposes candidates for public office. The materials we developed as an agency of the Church are for informational purposes only."

Since when does the Church only supply "information" regarding one of the most morally significant acts a Catholic faces, namely, how to vote? Is it simply "information" when the Church tells us over and over not to take innocent life, to defend true marriage against the counterfeit notion of "same-sex marriage", to reject euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research? Is it only "information" when bishops and priests talk to the faithful about "social justice?"

The Social Doctrine of the Church is part of the moral teaching of the Church. This teaching is called "social" because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions. This social doctrine confronts what Pope Benedict XVI properly called the current "Dictatorship of Relativism" and insists there are unchangeable truths which can be known by all and should provide a framework for structuring our social life in a truly just manner.

The foundational truth is the dignity of every human person at every age and stage of life. This human dignity is present in every person because we are all made in the Image of God. It demands respect for every human life whether that life be in the first home of the womb, a wheelchair, a jail cell, a hospital room, a hospice, a senior center or a soup kitchen. Without the Right to Life there are no other rights. Rights are goods of the human person.

Another truth is that marriage is between one man and one woman, intended for life, and ordered toward the bearing and raising of children in the family. Marriage is not some social construct which can be redefined by courts or legislatures. It is the foundation for family and family is the first society, first church, first school, first economy, first government and first mediating institution.

Another truth is that authentic freedom must be guided by a respect for what is true and good and respect what the American founders called those "ianalienable rights". At the very core of this understanding of freedom is recognizing and protecting the fundamental human right to Religious Freedom - a right which is increasibly threatened. 

The truths and principles contained within Catholic Social Doctrine are not merely "religious" positions, in the sense that only religious people need assent to them. They are revealed by the Natural Law and can be known through the exercise of reason.

The truths are true for all people and for all time. The Church calls us to offer them as leaven to be worked into the loaf of human culture. We are called to build a truly just and human society. This is about so much more than "information". This really is is about being faithful citizens and voting in a manner which is morally coherent.

OK, thanks for the "information," we Catholics appreciate it!

We think this is the "biggest story" thus far, and, thus far, it's been completely ignored by the mainstream media. Perhaps they know there will be no consequences for those in the state conferences and the USCCB who collaborated in creating this guide in the first place. 

A good friend of ours, who for many years managed one of the largest investment houses on Wall Street, asked if there would be any "consequences" for those who prepared the alphabetical guide.  We told him, based upon our experience over the years, "probably not." His response, "Then's there no leadership, it's a joke."

The mainstream media who have noticed the stories we've written on the alphabetical voter guide may consider this "business as usual" in regard to the bishops' lack of control over their state conferences and the USCCB. Here are some of the Catholic conferences using the alphabetical issue guide known as, "Know the positions of the presidential candidates":


Rhode Island Catholic Conference

Virginia Catholic Conference

Pennsylvania Catholic Conference

Florida Catholic Conference

Georgia Catholic Conference

Connecticut Catholic Conference

We can easily imagine someone reading this story and wondering why we continue to "harp" about this.  The answer is simple but not necessarily apparent to those who have not been deeply involved with Catholic voters through four national elections: Voiding the distinction between settled, or non-negotiable issues and those issues which allow for the application of prudential judgment is the primary tactic used to win Catholic support for pro-abortion and anti-marriage politicians.

Can we say that any plainer? To erase the qualitative difference between these two sets of issues is to adopt the foremost tactic of the pro-abortion, anti-marriage/ pro "same-sex marriage" crowd.  The use of these alphabetical voter guides means that state Catholic conferences are de facto participating in this tactical effort. 

Let us be clear -- we are not saying that "consequences" means people lose their jobs; it means that measures will be taken to insure such "information" is never distributed to Catholic voters again.

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