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October 20, 2000

FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP IN MASSACHUSETTS

The Bishops’ Conference of the United States has called all Americans to exercise faithful citizenship in this presidential election year. The primary way we do that is by voting. There is a moral obligation to participate in the democratic process by casting a ballot on November 7th.

Before November 7th, we all have a responsibility to become informed about the candidates and the issues so that our choices will be based on the truth and will reflect the principles of our faith and our nation. In the process of choosing candidates, we Catholics are helped by the Conference’s statement, Faithful Citizenship that sets before the voter four areas of concern. They are the protection of human life from the moment of conception to that of natural death; promoting family life; pursuing social justice; and, solidarity with other peoples and nations around the world.

We, the Four Bishops of Massachusetts, recommend that document to all Catholics. We endorse the content of that statement and, in a particular way, wish to underscore the absolute centrality of the first issue, the protection of human life. Support and promotion of abortion by any candidate is always wrong and can never be justified. We will never cease to denounce abortion and euthanasia and teach all Catholics that to support those positions is to support death over life.

There are many other issues that the candidates will be addressing in this campaign. While each deserves our careful attention and informed reflection, there are three, which seem to us to have particular relevance in this Jubilee Year.

First, is education: as citizens, we all are called to support good public education. Standards are too low and children are being cheated in too many government schools. However, public education is not the only way to educate children and it should not have a monopoly on educational resources. Parents always have the primary right to determine the education they want for their children. In justice, the government should find ways to make parental choice real and effective, including vouchers so that the poor and middle income families will have the same choices as the wealthy, using these funds to send children to the school of their choice.

Health care is a national problem that needs to be addressed both nationally and locally. All citizens should have access to affordable health care. Special provisions must always be made for the poor. Health care providers, hospitals, doctors, nurses, have a right in justice to be compensated for the real cost of the services they provide.

Violence has become a mark of our culture. Our leaders must be able to provide safety and security for all citizens. The guilty must be given swift and appropriate punishment, short of use of the death penalty. The media and others who glorify violence must be met with legitimate opposition. Racism and discrimination of any and every kind are aspects of violence that must be rooted out of our land.

The choices we make on November 7th will help shape the new millennium. It is our responsibility to vote for candidates who will promote life and the culture of life over the culture of death. Such persons will care for all the people of this country, including the poor. Such leaders will support families in their choices and encourage communities to take up responsibility for bettering their own neighborhoods. Such leaders will show the world that we are a nation of peace and that we live in solidarity with all peoples and nations of this world. As Catholics, we stand for life. As citizens, we can do no less than vote for candidates who stand with us.

+His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston

+Most Reverend Thomas Dupre, Bishop of Springfield

+Most Reverend Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Bishop of Fall River

+Most Reverend Daniel Reilly, Bishop of Worcester

Priests for Life
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