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Catholic Diocese of Arlington

October 30, 2000

ENCOURAGE AND TEACH WITH PATIENCE

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On November 7th, we shall have the privileged opportunity to exercise our God- given right and moral responsibility to vote in the national, state and local elections taking place on that day. I urge you to participate in this very important process whereby we can join our fellow citizens across this state and country in choosing candidates who will "contribute to the building of a society in which the dignity of each person is recognized and protected and the lives of all are defended and enhanced" (cf. The Gospel of Life, 90).

These days, so much in the newspapers and on radio and television focuses our attention on the forthcoming elections. As faithful citizens, we must weigh carefully the issues facing our nation and our world, and the positions which the various candidates take on those issues. In November of 1998, the United States Bishops issued Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics and in September of 1999 Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility For a New Millennium. These documents both offer Catholics guidance in considering seriously their responsibility as citizens and examine a number of issues which have social and moral implications for the welfare of all our citizens and the future of our country.

In Faithful Citizenship, the bishops highlight four moral priorities, which are the concerns, not only of Catholics, but of many people of our land. These priorities enable us to weigh carefully the issues facing us and the positions of candidates on those issues. These four priorities are: protecting human life, promoting family life, pursuing social justice and practicing global solidarity. Last week The Arlington Catholic Herald concluded a four-part series on these priorities.

Obviously, protecting human life is the most basic of these four priorities, since the other three would be rendered meaningless without the first. If we do not uphold and protect human life in its beginning at conception, there will be no life to uphold and protect thereafter. As we read in Living the Gospel of Life, "We cannot simultaneously commit ourselves to human rights and progress while eliminating or marginalizing the weakest among us" (20).... "Human life must be defended in all places and at all times" (33). To be a faithful and serious Catholic necessarily means that one is pro-life and not pro-choice. To be pro-choice essentially means supporting the right of a woman to terminate the life of her baby either pre-born or partially born. No Catholic can claim to be a faithful and serious member of the Church while advocating for or actively supporting direct attacks on innocent human life. Moreover, protecting human life from conception to natural death is more than a Catholic issue. It is an issue of fundamental morality, rooted in both the natural law and the divine law.

The Church’s God-given responsibility is to propose the Truth, thereby offering people the proper criterion for examining issues and making informed decisions that are moral and positive. "Catholics are called to be a community of conscience within the larger society and to test public life by the moral wisdom anchored in Scripture and consistent with the best of our nation’s founding ideals....Our responsibility is to measure every party and platform by how its agenda touches human life and dignity" (Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility For a New Millennium, p. 8).

As citizens and Catholics, we must be involved in the political process and in the electing of our local, state and national leaders. "The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government but the voting booth as well" (Living the Gospel of Life, 33). Once again, I urge you to weigh carefully the issues and the candidates from the perspective of the four moral priorities I outlined above, especially the priority to protect the human life of all persons, pre-born and born.

Looking forward to the elections on November 7th, I designate Monday, November 6th , as a day of prayer and penance in our diocese. Participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary, performing penitential acts, such as eating less or refraining from a favorite food: these make tangible our deep desire that the elections will result in leaders who will protect all human life, promote the family, pursue social justice and practice global solidarity - leaders who contribute to the renewal of our country and society by enabling all citizens to restore the culture of life.

I remain one with you in prayer and penance and in the exercise of our privileged right to vote.

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington
Office of the Bishop † Diocese of Arlington

 

Priests for Life
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