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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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A new publication I found on the CA site.
1 posted on 02/13/2004 9:32:42 AM PST by polemikos
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To: Salvation; Barnacle; NYer
Pinging 4 ping
2 posted on 02/13/2004 9:39:07 AM PST by polemikos (Freedom: the power to be good and do good. All else is libertinism.)
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To: polemikos; american colleen; Aquinasfan; B Knotts; BlackElk; Campion; ...

This could be a good resource to forward to our non-Freeper friends who may not be as well versed in these issues.

(If you want on my Catholic Ping List, please send a Freepmail.)

3 posted on 02/13/2004 10:13:02 AM PST by Barnacle (Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.)
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To: Barnacle
I'm Roman Catholic (to borrow from the late novelist Walker Percy, "A bad Catholic at a time near the end of the world) and I will definitely vote for President Bush over John Kerry even though Kerry is "Catholic" and the president is United Methodist, a sect that barely seems to be Christian.
4 posted on 02/13/2004 10:34:21 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: polemikos
Excellent find!!!

I've inquired whether my local moderate GOP mayor is pro-life and gotten a "what does it matter in city politics" response. The guy has aspirations for higher office, clearly, and I'm sure not gonna be jazzed about helping some pro-abort on his way to the top.

5 posted on 02/13/2004 10:37:55 AM PST by JohnnyZ (Burkeman1 predicted Kerry would win NH. I told him he was a moron. Oops!)
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To: JohnnyZ
Excellent find!!!

A small start in the culture war.
I'll be interested in seeing how the DimDem-Catholics will rationalize their way out of this.
6 posted on 02/13/2004 10:41:11 AM PST by polemikos (Freedom: the power to be good and do good. All else is libertinism.)
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; jude24; ...

Good material from out RC friends.

7 posted on 02/13/2004 11:00:55 AM PST by Gamecock (Don't confuse the Swarm's silence with surrender. In all probability we are ignoring you....)
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To: Gamecock
[ Response self-deleted, as this is an RCC thread ]
8 posted on 02/13/2004 11:04:02 AM PST by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: Gamecock
I've worked with some RC's on some of these issues, especially outside the abortion mills, and have a great deal of respect and love for them. Some even are in agreement on justification.

Love your new tag line. :-)

9 posted on 02/13/2004 11:15:22 AM PST by Ephesians210
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To: BibChr
I think Gamecock would agree with me, that we are "catholics", but not Roman Catholics.
10 posted on 02/13/2004 11:16:58 AM PST by Ephesians210
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To: Ephesians210
[ Response self-deleted, same reason ]
11 posted on 02/13/2004 11:19:44 AM PST by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: Ephesians210

I think you know what is all about. ;-)
12 posted on 02/13/2004 11:21:08 AM PST by Gamecock (Don't confuse the Swarm's silence with surrender. In all probability we are ignoring you....)
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To: Gamecock
Yep, but I ain't taking the bait. :-)
13 posted on 02/13/2004 11:23:03 AM PST by Ephesians210
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To: Barnacle
I couldn't find this on their website until you posted this. Thanks!
14 posted on 02/13/2004 11:56:21 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: Aquinasfan
You're welcome for the ping, but polemics gets the credit for finding and posting it.
15 posted on 02/13/2004 12:02:38 PM PST by Barnacle (Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.)
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To: polemikos
Looks great. Can't they come up with a clever acronym? I put some together but they don't do much...


Sounds like a dying moose when pronounced. :O)
16 posted on 02/13/2004 12:06:51 PM PST by HarleyD (READ Your Bible-STUDY to show yourself approved)
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To: NYer; Salvation; Barnacle
It is a serious sin to endorse or promote any of these actions...

So, are they making the case that supporting the Democratic Party is a mortal sin?
17 posted on 02/13/2004 12:39:28 PM PST by polemikos (Freedom: the power to be good and do good. All else is libertinism.)
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To: polemikos
So, are they making the case that supporting the Democratic Party is a mortal sin?

And this surprises you?

I know this is going to sound petty, but I wish they hadn't put "serious" in the title, as if only the holiest of Catholics need concern themselves with these issues.

My wife and I are considering supplying them to our pastor for distribution inside the bulletins and also to the school for the communication envelope. We know from experience we'd only need about 1200. There's some overlap, of course, as most of the families in the school attend the Church, but we figure if some families get two it will increase their visibity on the sea of papers on their dining room tables.

There was a very upsetting trend last election when lots of active parishoners supported pro-abortion Ed Rendell for governor. Perhaps this booklet will at least make them less conspicuous supporters.

18 posted on 02/13/2004 2:12:39 PM PST by old and tired (Go Toomey! Send Specter back to the Highlands!)
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To: polemikos
Thanks for the posting and the ping!

But... where does my conscience fit into this??? The National Catholic Reporter says my conscience AND my right to educational liberty comes first. ;-)

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.

19 posted on 02/13/2004 2:17:26 PM PST by american colleen
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To: old and tired
P: So, are they making the case that supporting the Democratic Party is a mortal sin?

O:And this surprises you?

Not really. I was just being cheeky. ;->

Although, it does raise an interesting point. Can one seriously argue that they belong to the Demoncratic Party because they are trying to reform it from the inside? Alternatively, once any Party crosses a "non-negotiable" moral line, can any moral person belong remain a member of that party, even if only registering with that party's affiliation?

...I wish they hadn't put "serious" in the title...

That did strike me as a little odd. I suppose that there's a bit of a challenge to "non-serious" Catholics in it.
20 posted on 02/13/2004 2:56:28 PM PST by polemikos (Freedom: the power to be good and do good. All else is libertinism.)
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