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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As we rapidly approach a very important general election, I want to take this opportunity to urge each and every one of you to register and vote. If you have not already registered to vote in the general election, in Florida you can do so up until Oct. 9. It is not difficult to register. Contact your county supervisor of elections...
As Catholic Christians we have always believed that voting and participating in our community is not just a privilege but also a responsibility. We are called by Christ to be salt and light to the world, and to infuse the culture around us with the values of our faith. And so I urge you to take your Catholic beliefs, values and consciences into the voting booth with you.
I would not tell you how to vote or who to vote for, but it is my responsibility to remind you that, for us Catholics, some issues are simply never morally acceptable. The taking of an innocent human life, whether inside the womb or not, and up until natural death, is always and everywhere intrinsically evil. Such issues as embryonic stem cell research and attempts at human cloning are also direct attacks against the dignity and uniqueness of human life made in the image of God. Finally, preserving the dignity of traditional marriage is of central importance and must never be undermined because marriage is a cornerstone of any stable society. Any attempts to re-define marriage as something other than between a man and a woman, should be vigorously opposed by a Catholic as contrary to reason, the natural law, and the divinely revealed truths of the Bible. Beyond these fundamental issues, and closely related to them is the issue of religious liberty – our ability as Catholics to live our lives publically according to our faith and morals at all levels of society.
As Catholics we must first consider the various candidates and party platforms in light of those immutable issues I have mentioned above. Then, in good conscience, we must give preference to the candidate who does not oppose our God given moral principles.
Finally, I want to bring to your attention two important State of Florida constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Amendment 6 would prohibit the spending of public tax dollars on abortion, or for health benefits which include abortion. Amendment 8 would protect religious liberty in Florida by allowing public funds to be allocated to faith-based organizations, which provide many high quality social and educational services to the general public. Along with all the Bishops of Florida, I urge you to vote “yes” on these two amendments.
Once again, I ask you to vote on Nov. 6 and to keep in mind those biblical and Catholic moral principles which cannot be compromised. Let us preserve a climate of civility in dealing with all citizens. In the meantime, let us intensify our life of prayer, and let us fast and repent for the sake of our beloved country’s future.
On Sunday, Nov. 4 at 5:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, I intend to celebrate Mass for our beloved country. Mass will be followed by adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; adoration will continue throughout the night until the following morning at 7:00 a.m. The statue of Our Lady of La Leche will be moved from its Chapel at Mission Nombre de Dios to the Cathedral for this occasion. This will be done as a sign of our recognition that the Blessed Mother is a powerful intercessor for our urgent petitions.
Sincerely in the Lord,
Most Reverend Felipe J. Estévez, S.T.D.
Bishop of St. Augustine