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BISHOPS-CANDIDATES Sep-17-2008 (270 words) xxxn

Bishops invite McCain, Obama to meet them before election

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has extended invitations to Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to meet with bishops before the Nov. 4 election and discuss the candidates' views on a variety of election issues.

Invitations to the major presidential candidates were sent in August, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 17.

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, told the newspaper that five bishops who lead various policy committees want to discuss the candidates' views on social policies such as abortion, education, immigration, international affairs and communications.

Any meetings, should they occur, will be private and off the record, Bishop Murphy said.

"This isn't born of any concern or worry or problem," Bishop Murphy told the newspaper. "We think it would be helpful for us to have that time and we think it would be helpful for the candidates to hear from the teachers of the Catholic Church ... as to what our concerns are."

The invitations are the first in recent memory to seek meetings prior to an election. They were sent prior to USCCB responses earlier in September to two Democrats who support legalized abortion. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the vice presidential candidate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California made remarks on national television stating their positions on abortion, prompting the bishops to clarify Catholic teaching.

Neither presidential candidate has replied to the requests, Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, USCCB director of media relations, told the newspaper.


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