"Some Catholic elected officials
have adopted the argument that, while they personally oppose evils like
abortion, they cannot force their religious views onto the wider society. This
is seriously mistaken on several key counts. First, regarding abortion, the
point when human life begins is not a religious belief but a scientific fact --
a fact on which there is clear agreement even among leading abortion advocates.
Second, the sanctity of human life is not merely Catholic doctrine but part of
humanity's global ethical heritage, and our nation's founding principle.
Finally, democracy is not served by silence. Most Americans would recognize the
contradiction in the statement, "While I am personally opposed to slavery or
racism or sexism I cannot force my personal view on the rest of society."
Real pluralism depends on people of conviction struggling vigorously to advance
their beliefs by every ethical and legal means at their disposal" (US
Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 24).
"American Catholics have long
sought to assimilate into U.S. cultural life. But in assimilating, we have too
often been digested. We have been changed by our culture too much, and we have
changed it not enough. If we are leaven, we must bring to our culture the whole
Gospel, which is a Gospel of life and joy. That is our vocation as believers.
And there is no better place to start than promoting the beauty and sanctity of
human life" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 25).
"As chief teachers in the Church,
we must therefore explain, persuade, correct and admonish those in leadership
positions who contradict the Gospel of life through their actions and policies.
Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the inviolability of
the human person indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life" (US Bishops,
Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 29).
"Catholics who are privileged to
serve in public leadership positions have an obligation to place their faith at
the heart of their public service, particularly on issues regarding the sanctity
and dignity of human life. Thomas More, the former chancellor of England who
preferred to give his life rather than betray his Catholic convictions, went to
his execution with the words, 'I die the king's good servant, but God's first'"
(US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 31).
"In an age of artifice, many
voters are hungry for substance. They admire and support political figures who
speak out sincerely for their moral convictions. For our part we commend
Catholic and other public officials who, with courage and determination, use
their positions of leadership to promote respect for all human life" (US
Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 31).