News Release: Bishops' Statement on 2010 Elections Drafted, Distributed to Parishes Statewide

June 15, 2010

(LANSING)—The arch/bishops of the seven Roman Catholic arch/dioceses of Michigan have composed a statement on the 2010 elections that is being distributed to Catholic parishes statewide this week. The statement, A Call to Conscience: Faithful Citizenship and the Common Good, reminds Catholics of their moral obligation to participate in the democratic process, to form their consciences based on Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching, and to evaluate candidates through the lens of faith.

According to the bishops' statement: "Catholics are called to evaluate all matters, including politics, through the lens of faith, to participate in the public square, to engage the political process, and to allow Gospel values to transform our society into a more just and better world for all. In other words, Catholics are called to be 'Faithful Citizens.'"

A Call to Conscience begins by quoting Founding Father and second President of the United States John Adams, who provided in his 1776 treatise Thoughts on Government an explanation of how government is instituted for the common good. The statement moves to convey an understanding of how "faithful citizenship" flows from a well-formed conscience which, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil."

The bishops' statement further reads: "Our pluralistic nation has a rich history of welcoming various ideas and proposals from all sectors of society, including and especially religious groups. In this tradition, the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, brought to the public square by faith-filled Catholics, help to embolden our communities and to advance the common good."

The Catholic bishops of Michigan in their statement reinforce the Church's teaching that not all issues carry equal moral weight. While Catholics in good conscience may disagree on practical policies that call for prudential judgment, the bishops explain, there are other policies that are intrinsically evil and can never be supported. How best to care for the poor or how to welcome the immigrant are prudential matters, the bishops state, while candidates with a permissive stance on intrinsically evil policies – abortion, human embryo experimentation and assisted suicide—can never be supported by those with a well-formed conscience if it is the voter's intent to support those policies.

A Call to Conscience: Faithful Citizenship and the Common Good is being distributed to all 765 parishes throughout Michigan, along with the Conference’s publication Election and Political Activities Guide: A Handbook for the 2010 Elections. The handbook includes sections on do's and don'ts for parishes in an election year (for example, do speak about issues and encourage parishioners to vote; do not conduct candidate forums with only one candidate present); a discussion of faithful citizenship and conscience formation; and public policy issues of concern to the Church. Those policy issues include human life, religious freedom, education, children and families, economic justice, health care and restorative justice.

Both materials are accompanied by a cover letter from MCC President and Chief Executive Officer Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., who writes “2010 is a critical year for Michigan government… 81 of the 148 sitting legislators are term-limited, the sitting lieutenant governor is not running for the governor's office, and all three constitutional offices—the governor's office, the attorney general's office, and the secretary of state's office—will not have an incumbent running for re-election. The decisions made by the 2.1 million Catholics across Michigan will have a profound impact on the common good and the moral fiber of this state for years to come."

The seven arch/bishops of Michigan are Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit; Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, Bishop of Gaylord; Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley, Bishop of Grand Rapids; Most Reverend Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo; Most Reverend Earl A. Boyea, Bishop of Lansing; Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample, Bishop of Marquette; and Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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