Reach for the Low-Hanging Fruit

Each of us has but one vote. Yet we can all influence thousands of votes. And we should start with the people who need the least amount of urging. If you have friends who already agree with you on the key issues of the day, and who would probably support the candidates you support, please make sure that they do in fact intend to vote for that candidate. Some information from you, a friendly nudge, or perhaps a promise of assistance to get them to the polls can go a long way.

We should reach for the “low-hanging fruit.” If the same amount of energy by which we persuade one who disagrees with us can mobilize ten people who agree with us already, get the ten first; then come back for the rest.

Catholic Voters Get Guidance From Rome

As Americans approach the eve of election week, U.S. Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke is reminding Catholics in an exclusive 25-minute video interview that they are bound in conscience to vote for political candidates who oppose aborting babies, embryonic stem cell experiments, euthanasia and so-called homosexual “marriage.”

“Millions of Catholics have no idea it’s a sin to vote for candidates who favor these grave evils, which attack the very foundations of society,” said Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family. “This matter-of-fact, pointed interview granted to me by Archbishop Raymond Burke in Rome last week makes it very clear what the responsibility of every American Catholic will be next Tuesday.”

In recent years Archbishop Burke, who is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court,” has taught repeatedly that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights may not receive Holy Communion and that Catholics who know of the politicians’ voting record on these issues cannot vote for them and retain “a clear conscience.”

McKenna interviewed Archbishop Burke in Rome on Oct. 20 literally hours after it was announced he would be elevated to Cardinal. The 25-minute interview is being released to help inform Catholic voters before the U.S. elections on Nov. 2nd. Some of the points the Archbishop makes are:

“As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith.”

“You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”

“So, the Catholic Church in teaching that sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself, is simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

Today, McKenna’s will launch two five-minute videos on YouTube, and a 25-minute Q&A video interview that is available for broadcast. The three videos all feature Archbishop Burke teaching Catholics about voter responsibility, including key points from his 2004 pastoral letter, “On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good.” The interview can be seen at

Catholic Action for Faith and Family is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting Catholic principles.

Crunch Time is Here: Mobilization Efforts Are Needed!

In elections, it is not the candidate who is right on the issues who necessarily wins, nor even the candidate with whom most people agree. Nor is it the candidate with the most money, nor the one who is ahead in the polls.

Rather, the candidate wins who has the higher number of people actually cast their vote.

That is why between now and Election Day it is crucial for each of us to focus on mobilizing more and more votes, on getting people to vote early, and on actually going door to door with election literature. Organize youth groups and other efforts to go throughout your neighborhood with a pro-life message about the importance of the election. Remember, the pro-abortion forces are doing this — we must not fail to do it ourselves.

A Moral Obligation to Vote

While voting is always a moral obligation, sometimes that obligation is stronger than at other times. This is especially true when pro-life people have an opportunity to elect, in a close race, someone who is committed to protect the unborn, and remove from office someone else who isn’t. The closer a race is, the more each person’s vote matters. And among candidates who have a strong enough base to win, we have a moral obligation to vote in such a way that will do the most to advance the culture of life.

We each have one vote, but we can also influence thousands of other votes. We can directly help candidates by volunteering for their campaigns, and we can help other voters understand their duty and get to the polls.

The Party Matters

When deciding on the candidate for whom you cast your vote in an election, a number of moral principles have to be considered. As I have often written in the past, the position of the candidate him/herself on the most important issues is of key importance, because by putting that person in a position to vote on legislation, you help to move public policy either closer or farther away from the moral law.

But that very consideration also means that the positions of the party to which the candidate belongs also matter. By putting that candidate in office, you also help to put his/her party into power. This has to be taken into consideration, too. Voters need to ask how much the election of a particular candidate will shift the balance of power between the parties, and what will happen when a particular party takes control. Voters should know the platform of the party and the official positions of party leadership on the same moral issues on which the individual candidate is evaluated.

At times, in all parties, the individual candidate will take a different position than his/her party on fundamental moral issues. Yet if the election of that candidate would shift control to his/her party, which holds the opposite position on those issues, a vote for that candidate, in effect, works against the position the voter may be trying to advance.

In short, the party matters.

To illustrate why the party matters, let’s look at what happens in the United States Senate.

The Majority party in the Senate chooses the Majority Leader. The Majority Leader has control of the Senate schedule and agenda. This includes the ability to select the timing for floor proceedings, that is, debates, consideration of amendments, and voting, both for legislation and nominations.

The Majority Party has a majority on all committees (except the Ethics Committee), usually in close proportion to its share of the body as a whole. The Majority Party on every committee also controls a majority of the staff on the committee.

The Majority in each committee recommends to their caucus a Committee Chairman. Typically, their selection is rubberstamped by the Majority Party in the Senate. The chairmen, in turn, set the agenda of their respective committees. This is an extremely powerful post. For example, chairmen sometimes refuse to schedule hearings on nominees and legislation, and this effectively kills them. In other words, the best candidate in either party could introduce the best legislation imaginable, and it would never come out of committee. The party matters.

Considerations about what party would be in power as a result of the outcome of a particular election become especially relevant when the opposing candidates take the same position on issues of key importance.

Reflections like these are not an endorsement of a party; rather, they are an aspect of the duty that we as clergy have to articulate the moral dimensions of voting. If they benefit one party over another, that’s not by our choice, but by the choice of the party to take the positions it takes.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As elections draw near, how can we tell where candidates stand on the issues? Their own words can be so deceptive. One way is to look up what individuals or groups are endorsing them or contributing to them. This is public information. You know a person by his or her friends. Also, if the candidate has already held public office, look up his or her voting record. Actions speak louder than words.

And because that’s true, we should not simply ask them what they believe, but rather what are they willing to do once in office. Regarding abortion, it’s easy to say one is pro-life. But what steps will one commit to in order to advance the protection of the unborn? That’s the kind of question we should ask the candidates, and make their answer known.

Webcast this Wednesday

Election Day is right around the corner and what matters now is educating people about the Candidates & getting as many people as possible to the polls. This year, Priests for Life is providing links to 501(c)3 friendly voter guides for any State that has them. Find the voter guide for your state at and share them with others. You can find more helpful election information at

To help you with your “get out the vote activities,” I am holding an important webcast on Wednesday, October 27 from 9-10pm ET. David Barton of Wallbuilders and David Bereit of 40 Days for Life will be my guest panelists. To listen online go to where you can also submit questions now or during the event. You can also listen to the webcast over the phone at (712) 432-1001 with access code: 437356605#. Please join us and encourage others to do so as well by signing up at

Also on Wednesday, October 27 from 3:00-3:45pm ET, Msgr. Michael Mannion, a true pro-life pioneer, will join me on a “Mobilizing the Clergy for Life” webcast. Please let any Priest, Deacon or Seminarian know that we want them to join us and we will open the phone lines for questions. They can listen to the webcast at or over the phone at (718) 290-9983 with conference ID: 307488#. They can register for the webcast at

We are in the midst of two important novenas, one for Election Day and another for Priesthood Sunday, which takes place on Sunday, October 31. Both novenas and all of our upcoming novenas can be found at Please join us and spread the word.

Prepare for the Election with These Voter Guides

Many Christians who are ready to be involved politically do not know where to turn to find the positions of candidates on the issues. Now, Priests for Life has provided a special web page to help you know where numerous candidates stand. It is at

You will find there a lot of information that you can quote in letters to the editor, or distribute over the Internet, in the mail or in the neighborhood. Pastors can distribute non-partisan voter guides in Churches, and citizens can distribute both partisan and non-partisan information on the public sidewalks. Why wait until a candidate is already in office to learn what he or she stands for? Do your part to inform your fellow citizens about the candidates! Go to, and spread the word!

Priesthood Sunday

The last Sunday of October is Priesthood Sunday. This Saturday, Priests for Life will begin a special novena for all priests.

I would like to invite you to send me your prayer requests for priests that you know.

In particular, I would like to hear your favorite priest stories.

At, we have set up a special web page to enable you to send us your prayer intentions and favorite priest stories.

Our priests rely on the prayers of everyone in the Church. Let us pray in particular that they will not be afraid to address pro-life issues, and speak out with vigor and compassion for unborn children.

Priests need to know that each time they speak up for the unborn, lives will be saved.

Join our novena at

Literature Distribution in Church Parking Lots is Legal!

Many groups distribute campaign literature in Church parking lots at election time. The nation’s top legal experts explain that such activity in the Church parking lot will not jeopardize the Church’s tax exempt status. IRS regulations on political activity only apply to the activities and expenditures of the non-profit organization. When others distribute literature in the Church parking lot, that is not an activity or expenditure of the Church. And because the parking lot is open to the public, churches may not prohibit people from distributing campaign literature, because it is an issue of free speech.

Explaining this or promoting this activity is not a matter of Church teaching or loyalty, but simply of accuracy regarding the law. If a Church wants to stop this, they have to find a different reason than tax law.