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 CNS Story:

LIFE-QUINN Oct-27-2004 (480 words) xxxn

Archbishop Quinn says prudence must guide voting

By Catholic News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Prudence is needed in the present "critical moment in our life as Americans and as Catholics," retired Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco said in a homily Oct. 24.

Preaching at a Mass for the Knights of Malta, the archbishop also urged Catholics to "live in unity at a deeper level" despite differences over many issues.

He said it is the church that affirms the transcendence and dignity of the human person and guards against all attempts by civil authority or society "to oppress or exploit the human person, weak or strong, for political, social, economic or scientific purposes."

"Every unrepeatable human being is from God, created by God and made for God. God is the all-embracing and ultimate purpose of human existence," he said.

Speaking of the critical moment facing American Catholics, he said, "There are burning divisions among us over abortion, euthanasia and stem-cell research. There are equally burning divisions among us over the issues of war, health care, education, tax relief and other issues, all of which affect human dignity."

He said the church's "teaching on prudence" offers a pointer to Catholics seeking to determine what they should do in those circumstances.

"Prudence is one of the four cardinal or paramount virtues. Prudence is a taxing virtue," he said. "The 'Catechism of the Catholic Church,' in a striking turn of language, says that prudence 'is called the "auriga virtutum," the charioteer of the virtues. It guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure.'"

Referring to a January 2003 Vatican document on Catholics and political life, he said, "This balancing virtue of prudence underlies a recent document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith calling Catholics to witness to the entire array of human issues where human dignity is in jeopardy, from the protection of the unborn and the rejection of euthanasia to the development of a humane economy and the work of peacemaking in the world."

"It would be easier if everything could be reduced to one issue," Archbishop Quinn added. "But it is clear that the defense of the sanctity of life is manifold and taxing."

He said a homily was not the place to offer detailed instructions on such issues, "nor is it prudent for bishops to tell the Catholic people which among several candidates they should vote for."

"But it is fitting," he said, " to bring into our Catholic consciousness the tradition of prudence in the church's teaching, with its probing question, 'What will make the situation better rather than worse for the protection of life in the full array of its claims?'"

He added, "To lose sight of the full spectrum of issues which affect human dignity runs the grave risk of playing into the hands of those who are so eager to allege that the pro-life stance is a sectarian issue."


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