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Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics
Catholic Answers ^ | Feb 10, 2004 | Catholic Answers

Posted on 02/13/2004 9:32:41 AM PST by polemikos

Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics

Copyright © 2004, Catholic Answers.
All Rights Reserved.

This booklet gives clear and concise official Church statements on five "non-negotiable" moral issues. After reading it, there will be no doubt or confusion about what the Church teaches and requires of her children.

Placing this information in the hands of millions of U.S. Catholics is going to require a serious, committed effort. That's why we need your help!

If you want to distribute this voter's guide yourself, you can buy large quantities at a discount. Or you can join our Mass Mail Project and we'll take care of the distribution.

Which ever way you choose, please call the Catholic Answers customer service department Toll-FREE at:

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Nothing in this voter's guide should be construed as an endorsement of any particular candidate or political party.


This voter's guide helps you cast your vote in an informed manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching. It helps you eliminate from consideration candidates who endorse policies that cannot be reconciled with moral norms that used to be held by all Christians.

On most issues that come before voters or legislators, a Catholic can take one side or the other and not act contrary to his faith. Most matters do not have a "Catholic position."

But some issues are so key, so elemental, that only one position accords with the teaching of the Christian gospel. No one endorsing the wrong side of these subjects can be said to act in accord with the Church's moral norms.

This voter's guide identifies five "non-negotiable" issues and helps you narrow down the list of acceptable candidates, whether they are running for national, state, or local offices.

Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates.


Catholics have a moral obligation to promote the common good through the exercise of their voting privileges (cf. CCC 2240). It is not just civil authorities who have responsibility for a country. "Service of the common good require[s] citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community" (CCC 2239). This means citizens should participate in the political process at the ballot box.

But voting cannot be arbitrary. "A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals" (CPL 4).

Some things always are wrong, and no one may vote in favor of them, directly or indirectly. Citizens vote in favor of these evils if they vote in favor of candidates who propose to advance them. Thus, Catholics should not vote for anyone who intends to push programs or laws that are intrinsically evil.


These five issues are called non-negotiable because they concern actions that are always morally wrong and must never be promoted by the law. It is a serious sin to endorse or promote any of these actions, and no candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any of the five non-negotiables.

1. Abortion

The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is "never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it" (EV 73). Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide.

The child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others' sins.

2. Euthanasia

Often disguised by the name "mercy killing," euthanasia also is a form of homicide. No one has a right to take his own life (suicide), and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person.

In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include doing something intrinsically evil to another person (cf. EV 73).

3. Fetal Stem Cell Research

Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo" (CRF 4b).

Recent scientific advances show that any medical cure that might arise from experimentation on fetal stem cells can be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults from whom they come. Thus there no longer is a medical argument in favor of using fetal stem cells.

4. Human Cloning

"Attempts . . . for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fission,' cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union" (RHL I:6).

Human cloning also ends up being a form of homicide because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.

5. Homosexual "Marriage"

True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other form of "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.

"When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10).


Laws are passed by the legislature, enforced by the executive branch, and interpreted by the judiciary. This means you should scrutinize any candidate for the legislature, anyone running for an executive office, and anyone nominated for the bench. This is true not only at the national level but also at the state and local levels.

True, the lesser the office, the less likely the office holder will take up certain issues. Your city council, for example, perhaps never will take up the issue of human cloning. But it is important that you evaluate every candidate, no matter what office is being sought.

Few people achieve high office without first holding low office. Some people become congressional representatives, senators, or presidents without having been elected to a lesser office. But most representatives, senators, and presidents started their political careers at the local level. The same is true for state lawmakers. Most of them began on city councils and school boards and worked their way up the political ladder.

Tomorrow's candidates for higher offices will come mainly from today's candidates for lower offices. It is therefore prudent to apply the same standards to local candidates as to state and national ones.

If candidates who are wrong on non-negotiable issues fail to be elected to lower offices, they might not become candidates for higher offices. This would make it easier to elect good candidates for the more influential offices at the state and national levels.


1. The higher the office, the easier this will be. Congressional representatives and senators, for example, repeatedly have seen these issues come before them and so have taken positions on them. Often the same can be said at the state level. In either case, learning a candidate's position can be as easy as reading newspaper or magazine articles, looking up his views on the Internet, or studying one of the many printed candidate surveys that are distributed at election time.

2. It often is more difficult to learn the views of candidates for local offices because few of them have an opportunity to consider legislation on such things as abortion, cloning, and the sanctity of marriage. But these candidates, being local, often can be contacted directly or have local campaign offices that will explain their positions.

3. If you cannot determine a candidate's views by other means, do not hesitate to write directly to him and ask how he stands on each of the non-negotiables.


1. Do not base your vote on your political party affiliation, your earlier voting habits, or your family's voting tradition. Years ago, these may have been trustworthy ways to determine whom to vote for, but today they are not reliable. You need to look at each candidate as an individual. This means that you may end up casting votes for candidates from more than one party.

2. Do not cast your vote based on candidates' appearance, personality, or "media savvy." Some attractive, engaging, and "sound-bite-capable" candidates endorse intrinsic evils and so should be opposed, while other candidates, who may be plain-looking, uninspiring, and ill at ease in front of cameras, endorse legislation in accord with basic Christian principles.

3. Do not vote for candidates simply because they declare themselves to be Catholic. Unfortunately, many self-described Catholic candidates reject basic Catholic moral teaching. They are "Catholic" only when seeking votes from Catholics.

4. Do not choose among candidates based on "What's in it for me?" Make your decision based on which candidates seem most likely to promote the common good, even if you will not benefit directly or immediately from the legislation they propose.

5. Do not reward with your vote candidates who are right on lesser issues but who are wrong on key moral issues. One candidate may have a record of voting exactly as you wish, aside from voting also in favor of, say, euthanasia. Such a candidate should not get your vote. Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.


1. For each office, first determine how each candidate stands on each of the five non-negotiable issues.

2. Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.

3. Choose from among the remaining candidates, based on your assessment of each candidate's views on other, lesser issues.


In some political races, each candidate takes a wrong position on one or more of the five non-negotiables. In such a case you may vote for the candidate who takes the fewest such positions or who seems least likely to be able to advance immoral legislation, or you may choose to vote for no one.


Conscience is like an alarm. It warns you when you are about to do something wrong. It does not itself determine what is right or wrong. For your conscience to work properly, it must be properly informed-that is, you must inform yourself about what is right and what is wrong. Only then will your conscience be a trusted guide.

Unfortunately, today many Catholics have not formed their consciences adequately regarding key moral issues. The result is that their consciences do not "sound off" at appropriate times, including on election day.

A well-formed conscience never will contradict Catholic moral teaching. For that reason, if you are unsure where your conscience is leading you when at the ballot box, place your trust in the unwavering moral teachings of the Church. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent source of authentic moral teaching.)


Please do not keep this voter's guide to yourself. Read it, learn from it, and prepare your selection of candidates based on it. Then give this voter's guide to a friend, and ask your friend to read it and pass it on to others. The more people who vote in accord with basic moral principles, the better off our country will be.


CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church

CPL Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Notes on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life

CRF Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family

EV John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)

RHL Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation

UHP Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons

TOPICS: Catholic; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: vote; voters; votersguide; voting
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To: Ephesians210
Wise fellow
21 posted on 02/13/2004 3:00:57 PM PST by Gamecock (Don't confuse the Swarm's silence with surrender. In all probability we are ignoring you....)
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To: american colleen
Seriously, this is great and thank God it all makes perfect sense to me... I couldn't have said that not all that long ago. Thanks to the grace of God, now I can.

Alleluia and Amen
22 posted on 02/13/2004 3:08:56 PM PST by polemikos (Freedom: the power to be good and do good. All else is libertinism.)
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To: JohnnyZ
"what does it matter in city politics" >>

sounds like pro abort to me.
23 posted on 02/13/2004 3:38:14 PM PST by Coleus (Vote for Bush and Traditional Marriage;
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To: polemikos
I think our votes are needed not only as a measure in the fight against the "culture of death", but also to bring the message home to our Bishops, or, in the case of Abp. Burke, as a demonstration of "we stand with you".

24 posted on 02/13/2004 3:51:45 PM PST by GirlShortstop
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To: Coleus
sounds like pro abort to me.

LOL. I suppose the answer is either "Yes" or some other nonsense that really means "No".
25 posted on 02/13/2004 4:02:13 PM PST by polemikos (Ecce Agnus Dei)
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To: polemikos; american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; CAtholic Family Association; ...
This voter's guide identifies five "non-negotiable" issues and helps you narrow down the list of acceptable candidates, whether they are running for national, state, or local offices.

And, from the USCCB, there is also this document.

Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility

26 posted on 02/13/2004 4:08:35 PM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
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To: polemikos
Wonderful article!

I will post my Catholics and politicians list!
27 posted on 02/13/2004 4:17:10 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Also Right to Life Voter Guide search on Google

You may want to add your state's name to refine the search.

28 posted on 02/13/2004 4:24:23 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
from the USCCB, there is also this document.
Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility

Is there a clear directive in it?

Is it me, or is the USCCB statement a bowl of mush that seemingly equates abortion with "global solidarity"?
29 posted on 02/13/2004 4:27:11 PM PST by polemikos (Ecce Agnus Dei)
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To: All
The Deadly Dozen

Canadian Prime Minister Taunts Church: "I Am A Catholic And For Abortion"
Catholic Church asks Tom Daschle to stop calling himself a Catholic
On Catholic Politicians and Faith
Vatican Urges Catholic Politicians to Vote Along Church Lines
Senator Santorum on Being Catholic and a Politician

William E. Simon, Sr. and Jr. Devout Catholics, Philanthropists and Politicians
Deadly Dozen senator taken to task over claims of Catholicism
THE BISHOP AND THE SENATOR [author links to FR thread regarding Daschle in her online column]
Blood On Their Hands: Exposing Pro-abortion Catholic Politicians
MI Gov Granholm Proclaims June "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month"

Colorado Governor To Media:'WE LOVE OUR CHURCH' [Gov. Bill Owens
U.S. Senator Brownback and Commentator Dick Morris Join Catholic Church
Kerry [Catholic} says he'll filibuster Supreme Court nominees who do not support abortion rights
Pope to MPs: Stop gay marriage

Vatican - Considerations regarding ... homosexual persons
Prelate says politicians who back abortion shouldn't go to Communion
Bishop draws fire for targeting Chrétien
Kennedy likens Vatican stance on gay unions to 'bigotry' (oh, go get a job, you little creep)

Ignorance or Malicious Intent? "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to..."
George Weigel on Authentic Catholic Citizenship, and the Duty of Catholic Politicians to Behave as Catholics
Conservative Catholics urge Church to challenge "dissenters"
[Robert F., Jr.] Kennedy to speak at Festival of Faiths (Environmentalism as religion)
Faithful Catholic Politicians

Catholic Bishops Eye Possible Crackdown of Pro-Abortion Pols
It is Time to Excommunicate the Politicians
Church vows to fight gay marriage: Catholics pressure pols
Should politicians toe their church line?

Church May Penalize Politicans
Catholic politicians facing dogmatic threat
Bishop appeals to Catholic lawmakers [Wisconsin]
New St. Louis Catholic Archbishop Warns Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians of Excommunication.
Bishop Objected to AIDS Walk

Wisconsin Catholic Lawmakers Seek Victim Status In Feud With Bishop
Bishop Burke discusses the letters he sent to Catholic politicians
Congressman Places Internal Pro-Abortion Docs in Congressional Record
Flynn: Dems ignore Catholics
Granholm gay rights order "a slap in the face"

Calif. Bishop To Gov. Davis: Pick Abortion Or Communion [formal excommunication?]
California Bishop to Gov: Oppose Abortion or No Communion (New Title)
Sacramento Bishop Challenges Governor on Abortion; Tells Davis to Stop Receiving Communion
Granholm's Bible-thumping Sure to Rile GOP
Bishop: No Communion for Abortion Backers

Legislators can't have Eucharist, bishop says: Don't serve supporters of abortion rights, euthanasia
Wisc. Bishop Tells Pro-Abort. Catholic Pols: Change Your Stripes or Stay Away from Holy Communion
Diocese targets Granholm on abortion
NJ Governor McGreevey a devout Catholic, yet diplomatic {Barf Alert}
Communion ban on lawmakers who back abortion starts furor

Bishop's ban ignites church-state debate
(MI) Governor's effort is first step to give gays special benefits, weapon against religion [Granholm]
(Louisiana) LA Archbishop aims call at some Catholic politicians [Hughes]
Hughes exhorts Catholic pols to toe line
The end of Catholic politicians

Maher's Moment: A look back at Bishop Maher's Denial of Communion to a Pro-Abortion Politician [Lucy Killea]
Bishops rekindle anti-Catholic bias
TREND? "Pro-Abort Politicians "Shouldn't Dare Come to Communion", Madison Bishop Backs Burke
Dolan lauds result of bishop's actions against lawmakers
Catholics Kerry and Kennedy have a 100% Pro-homosexual Record with the Human Rights Campaign! Page 10,11

Bishop Burke: Just Doing His Job
Massachusetts Democrats Back Gay Marriage Edict
Archbishop Would Refuse Communion To John Kerry
Leading His Flock: Has the new archbishop of St. Louis crossed a line?

Kerry raps Pope: Senator fuming over gay marriage order
Denial of communion raises stakes for bishops and pro-choice legislators
Roman Catholic church raises some eyebrows by warning politicians
Kerry dodges constitutional ban question (Gay Marriage)
Kerry Signed Letter Endorsing Homosexual Marriage

Kerry Signed Letter Backing Gay Marriage

30 posted on 02/13/2004 4:33:18 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: polemikos
**So, are they making the case that supporting the Democratic Party is a mortal sin?**

I can't answer for the mortality part of it, but I know I would never knowingly vote for anyone who endorsed abortion, stemcell research, euthenasia, homosexuality.

Each one of us will have to answer for the way we voted.
31 posted on 02/13/2004 5:04:18 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Maeve
Please sure to show this to Finn and Colm.
32 posted on 02/13/2004 7:41:22 PM PST by Siobhan (+Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet+)
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To: JohnnyZ
{what does it matter in city politics" response.}

Typical politician sitting on the fence. Abortion matters in every level of government. Does the Charlotte Mayor approve of govt grants to Planned Parenthood? What does he think of govt schools allowing pro-abort groups to speak on "women's issues"? These are question you might want to ask him next time you see him.
33 posted on 02/13/2004 7:46:33 PM PST by Kuksool
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To: Kuksool
These are question you might want to ask him next time you see him.

I haven't actually asked HIM yet. I asked Someone Who Knows that kind of thing, and got my non-answer.

I'm pretty sure Mayor McCrory will run as pro-life because of the nature of the state and district if/when he does run, but I'd like to hear a pre-campaign stance.

34 posted on 02/13/2004 8:14:43 PM PST by JohnnyZ (Burkeman1 predicted Kerry would win NH. I told him he was a moron. Oops!)
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