November 14, 2007 / 10:09 PM / 10 years ago

Catholic bishops issue advice on politics

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Catholic bishops on Wednesday urged church members to take an active role in politics and told both voters and those in public office that abortion is wrong and must be opposed.

The bishops issued the statement at the close of their twice-yearly meeting in Baltimore, approving an updated guide on faith and politics that the group has issued ahead of every presidential election for the past 30 years.

“We bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote,” the new statement said. “Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences.”

Catholics should become more involved in running for office, working with those who do run and communicating with elected officials, “guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party,” the statement said.

Since respect for the dignity of every human being is a foundation of the church’s teaching, Catholics should oppose such things as abortion and euthanasia, the document advised.

Abortion routinely surfaces as a hot issue in American elections at many levels, with opponents seeking heavy restrictions on the practice. The Republican Party generally embraces an anti-abortion stance while many Democrats embrace one that protects a woman’s right to choose.

One temptation facing Catholics in public life, the statement said, is to make “no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life ... is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.”

Another danger, it said, involves dismissing serious threats to human life and dignity through such things as racism, torture, capital punishment, unjust warfare, war crimes and ignoring those who are hungry or lack health care.

Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Peter Bohan and David Wiessler

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