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U.S. Bishops Offer Voter Pamphlet

October 20, 1999

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops want parishioners to know that voting is not just a civic responsibility, but a moral one.

To that end, they are issuing a voting pamphlet for America’s 60 million Catholics, encouraging them to ponder where their candidate stands on everything from foreign aid to abortion.

``This is not a voting guide,″ said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. ``There are no lists of candidates.″ The document, he said, is intended to help Catholics ``look at issues through the lens that reflects our belief in God’s revelation.″

The guide, ``Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium,″ is due next month in parishes throughout the country, and includes 10 questions to help Catholics assess candidates.

They include ``How will we protect ... innocent, unborn children?″ and ``How will we address the 35,000 children dying every day of the consequences of hunger, debt and lack of development around the world?″

The U.S. bishops have issued such guides during every presidential election year since the mid-1970s. The guides summarize Catholic teachings on public life and various moral issues.

The main topics include abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. This guide is the first to focus on such contemporary issues as debt reduction, school violence and land mines.

Deal Hudson, editor of the conservative Catholic magazine Crisis, called the approach evenhanded, noting ``a very conscious attempt on the bishops’ part that this document should not be politicized in a partisan way.″

Tom Roberts, editor of the liberal Catholic weekly, National Catholic Reporter, agreed: ``It’s an extremely valuable rundown on what American Catholics should be concerned about.″

The bishops also address affordable health care, religious liberty, foreign aid, a more liberal immigration and refugee policy, and resolving regional conflicts from the Balkans to East Timor. They call for ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty and for government aid to parents who cannot afford private and religious schools.

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