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New Jersey Bishops on Political Responsibility

October 22, 2001

Dear Members of the Catholic Community:

As another election approaches, we, the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, reach out to encourage you to vote and to exercise that right in accordance with consciences formed in the light of your faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church. As bishops, we are aware of our primary responsibility as teachers of faith and morals to help people follow God's laws and do His will. We have always made it clear that we never intend to instruct people on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates and we do not do so today.

In 1998, as members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we adopted a statement, Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics. In that document, we noted our obligation to remind all Americans, including political leaders, and especially those who are Catholics. We said: "No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life." Thus, we consistently call upon all candidates to exercise genuine moral leadership by supporting laws that promote respect for the human person at all stages of life from conception to natural death.

We also call upon Catholic voters to use their voting privilege to reflect a choice of candidates who respect and sustain the dignity of all human life. Such choices make clear to all candidates that life issues are a determining factor in our voting decisions.

We pray that Catholics will exercise their vote for Governor and members of the Legislature in the context of Catholic moral teaching. Exercising the right to vote is not only a moral obligation but also should be a manifestation of our faith. As Catholics we must commit ourselves to carry the values of the Gospel and Church teaching into the public square. As citizens we have very right to conscientiously participate in the selection of the leaders who will guide our state in the days ahead.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark

Most Reverend Nicohlas DiMarzio, Bishop of Camden

Most Reverend Frank J. Rodimer, Bishop of Paterson

Most Reverend John M. Smith, Bishop of Trenton
Apostolic Administrator of Metuchen

Most Reverend Andrew Pataki, Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic

Most Reverend Joseph Younan, Bishop of Our Lady of Deliverance Diocese

Most Reverend David Arias, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Most Reverend Charles J. McDonnell, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Priests for Life
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Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •