Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Lawyers for US Bishops Prefer Parishes Not Use Popular Voter Guide

From the Culture of Life Foundation.
Lawyers for US Bishops Prefer Parishes Not Use Popular Voter Guide

   In the wake of controversy surrounding a presidential candidate
questionnaire produced by the lay staff of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, many Catholics have embraced an alternative voting guide
issued by a Catholic apologetics organization. Though the USCCB has
discouraged use of this new guide, it has been circulated by at least one
major archdiocese and thousands of parishes, according to the publisher.

   "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" is a 10-page booklet produced by
Catholic Answers, a lay apostolate based in San Diego whose primary
mission is defending Catholic teaching. Citing papal and Vatican
documents, "Voter's Guide" identifies five issues it calls
"non-negotiable": abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human
cloning and homosexual "marriage." Supporting any of these issues,
according to the guide, would disqualify a candidate as a viable option
for a faithful Catholic.

   Frank Norris, Catholic Answers Director of Development, told Culture &
Cosmos that the guide has been very successful, citing more than a million
in distribution. Norris estimates that by election day in November
Catholic Answers will have distributed somewhere between 2 million to 5
million copies. Norris said the guide is being distributed by the St.
Louis Archdiocese and that two more dioceses are considering distributing
it. He went on to say that more than one thousand individuals have
requested copies of the guide. Norris also said the booklet may soon
receive an imprimatur from the bishop of San Diego [an imprimatur is
official guidance from a bishop that the information is free from
doctrinal error]. Even so, the booklet has faced resistance and even
disapproval from the legal staff of the USCCB.

   A parishioner in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis asked
Archdiocesan officials if he could distribute the "Voter's Guide" on
church property. The Archdiocese sought guidance from the USCCB, according
to William Fallon, the Archdiocese's chancellor, and was told they
preferred that only the USCCB guide, "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic
Call to Political Responsibility," be distributed. "Faithful Citizenship,"
a document issued by the lay staff of the USCCB, has been criticized even
within the Church for placing the paramount issue of abortion with other
lesser issues like promoting "social justice" and "global solidarity." Bob
Laird, Director of the Family Life Office of the Diocese of Arlington,
Virginia said, "It equates abortion with debt relief. They are not equal."
Critics charge that the document has had the effect of minimizing the
importance of abortion in Catholic social teaching. The USCCB is also set
to release its staff-produced presidential questionnaire which has faced
similar charges.

   Interpreting IRS guidelines for non-profit organizations is at the
heart of the voter guide question. IRS rules insist that non-profits may
not engage in active campaigning for specific candidates or political
parties. Though USCCB lawyers declined repeated requests for comment, an
online memo makes it clear they believe in a very strict reading of the
IRS code. "Political Activity Guidelines for Catholic Organizations," a
document of USCCB's Office of the General Counsel, stresses that guides
and questionnaires must cover a "wide variety of issues selected solely on
the basis of their importance to the electorate as a whole."  It remains
to be seen whether the IRS will go after the narrow voter guide of
Catholic Answers though Catholic Answers believes it is well within the


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there is only separation of church and state if it's not the catholic church? The guide does not endorse a particular candidate and I would submit that as an American I CAN consult my church for guidence in voting.
It is amazing to me that everyone in this country is so biased against the President. He really must be a rightous man, because I have never seen some one so dogged by satan. Those who know please--ST. Michael Pray for him.

1:40 AM  

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