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Catholic Bishop Causes Stir: Don't Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidates, Period

by Steven Ertelt

LifeNews.com Editor

October 22, 2008

Scranton, PA (LifeNews.com) -- A Catholic bishop in Pennsylvania has perhaps gone further than any other Catholic leader in the nation with a new statement saying Catholics shouldn't vote for any candidate who is pro-abortion. The statement has implications for the presidential race with a clear contrast between the candidates.

Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino showed up unexpectedly at a parish forum in his diocese and said he was upset that the letter he authored saying not to vote for pro-abortion candidates wasn't a part of the discussion.

Martino surprised the audience by saying that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops doesn't go far enough in laying out Catholic policy vis-a-vis voting priorities.

The bishops have said, in their document “Faithful Citizenship” that "“a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion" if the voter is intending to support abortion. It says pro-abortion candidates can only be supported for proportionate reasons -- something Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has said doesn't exist.

Bishop Martino went further and took issue with the USCCB statement, which was handed out to everyone at the meeting, and complained no one received his letter.

“No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,” said Martino. “The USCCB doesn't speak for me.”

“The only relevant document ... is my letter,” he said. “There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.”

The letter indicates that abortion is more important than any other political issue.

“Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates," it says. "However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does."

"National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price," it concludes. “No social issue has caused the death of 50 million people. This is madness, people."

After Bishop Martino's comments, most of the members of the audience gave him a standing ovation, but about one-fourth of the audience left afterwards.

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