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 CNS Story:

PAXCHRISTI-VOTING Oct-1-2004 (560 words) xxxn

Pax Christi says voting for common good involves many issues

By Catholic News Service

ERIE, Pa. (CNS) -- To work for the common good Catholics must base their political votes "on the full range of issues," Pax Christi USA said Oct. 1 in a statement titled "Life Does Not End at Birth."

Its statement, also signed by more than 200 Catholic organizations, was published Oct. 1 as a full-page paid advertisement in daily newspapers in Erie and Allentown, Pa.; Columbus, Ohio; and Morgantown, W.Va.

The statement quotes from a November 2002 doctrinal note on political responsibility issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: "The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good."

The statement was issued in the midst of a wide debate among U.S. Catholics about the extent to which a politician's stand on legalized abortion should be a determining factor when a Catholic voter casts his ballot.

"Members of the media -- and indeed a few of our own religious leaders -- do a great disservice to our church and nation when they attempt to use one or another issue as the benchmark for Catholic identity," the statement said.

Pax Christi USA is a section of Pax Christi International, the international Catholic peace movement.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious was among signers of the statement. Most signatories were local Pax Christi chapters, individual orders of women religious or their leadership teams, or Catholic justice, peace and social ministry organizations.

Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles, bishop president of Pax Christi USA, said, "The tradition of the Catholic faith teaches that all life is sacred, and in that spirit Catholics are called to vote on the wide range of life issues that are accountable to holding up the dignity of humanity: war, poverty, health care, abortion, capital punishment, mistreatment of immigrants and racism, to name a few."

He said a politician's commitment to the sanctity of life "must be judged by the actions taken to defend and promote life in all its forms."

The statement borrowed its title from the late Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago, who was noted for his advocacy of what he called a "consistent ethic of life."

It quoted Cardinal Bernardin: "Our moral, political and economic responsibilities do not stop at the moment of birth. Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker."

It also quoted from "Faithful Citizenship," the U.S. bishops' 2003 political responsibility statement, which said voters should judge candidates on their "personal integrity, philosophy and performance" and base their choices in the voting booth "on the full range of issues."

Pax Christi executive director Dave Robinson said, "The Catholic vote cannot be swayed or obtained by pandering to one solitary issue of our faith's social and moral doctrine. The church's teaching gives us a political responsibility that is accountable to life not only before birth but throughout all of life."

END


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