Thursday, November 8, 2007

US Bishops on Politics - Part III

Below is the final section of the US Bishops Document on Faithful Citizenship.
Part I can be found here.
Part II can be found here.

Remember, that this is a draft. A well-done draft, but a draft nonetheless. Also, the Bishops didn't ask for my commentary, I just offer it for the readers.

(my emphasis added in italics - with my commentary in brackets[] )

Section III:

Goals for Political Life:
Challenges for Citizens, Candidates, and Public Officials

As Catholics, we are led to raise questions for political life other than “Are you better off than you were two or four years ago?” Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.

Catholic teaching challenges voters and candidates, citizens and elected officials, to consider the moral and ethical dimensions of public policy issues. In light of ethical principles, we bishops offer the following policy goals that we hope will guide Catholics as they form their consciences and reflect on the moral dimensions of their public choices. Not all issues are equal; these ten goals address matters of different moral weight and urgency.[again they rightly emphasize that not all issues are equally important] These and similar goals can help voters and candidates act on ethical principles rather than particular interests and partisan allegiances. We hope Catholics will ask candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these important goals:

· Address the preeminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst—innocent unborn children—by restricting and bringing to an end to the destruction of unborn children through abortion. [amen]

· Keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems—a million abortions each year to deal with unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of illness and disability, the destruction of human embryos in the name of research, the use of the death penalty to combat crime, and imprudent resort to war to address international disputes. [the last issue is one of prudence alone?]

· Define the central institution of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, and provide better support for family life morally, socially, and economically, so that our nation helps parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility.

· Achieve comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, treats immigrant workers fairly, offers an earned path to citizenship, respects the rule of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries. [this is a very touchy subject that needs to be fleshed out further]

· Help families and children overcome poverty: ensuring access to and choice in education, as well as decent work at decent wages and adequate assistance for the vulnerable in our nation, while also helping to overcome widespread hunger and poverty around the world, especially in the areas of development assistance, debt relief, and international trade. ["For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat" Matt 25:35]

· Provide health care coverage for the growing number of people without it, while respecting human life, human dignity, and religious freedom in our health care system.

· Continue to oppose policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry, and other forms of discrimination. [which policies reflect such things?]

· Encourage families, community groups, economic structures, and government to work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, and care for creation, with full respect for religious groups and their right to address social needs in accord with their basic moral convictions.

· Establish and comply with moral limits on the use of military force—examining for what purposes it may be used, under what authority, and at what human cost.

· Join with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty, and advance economic justice and care for creation.

I once again reiterate that I believe this document is a vast improvement over the previous one. I also believe there is still room for improvement. I am sure the discussion of the full body of Bishops will be an interesting one. I also expect amendments to be forwarded and few, if any, to be accepted. In particular, there are too many Bishops with too many differing approaches of how to address individual politicians.

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