Forget Militias, How about Catholics?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Wed Nov 17 20:28:42 PST 1999

The attached article notes "ten questions" the US Bishops are promoting in their political mobilization this year. While hardly ideal on all points, particularly abortion and family values, they are far more attractive on racial, class and internationalist issues than anything you hear out of the most "anti-corporate" militia types. The Questions:

* 1. How will we protect the weakest in our midst - innocent, unborn children? * 2. How will we overcome the scandal of a quarter of our preschoolers living in poverty in the richest nation in the world? * 3. How will we address the tragedy of 35,000 children dying every day of the consequences of hunger, debt and lack of development around the world? * 4. How can our nation help parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, a sense of hope and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility? * 5. How can society better support families in their moral roles and responsibilities, offering them real choices and financial resources to obtain quality education and decent housing? * 6. How will we address those without affordable, accessible health care? * 7. How will society combat continuing prejudice, bias and discrimination, overcome hostility toward immigrants and refugees and heal the wounds of racism, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination? * 8. How will our nation pursue the values of justice and peace in a world where injustice is common, destitution is widespread and peace is too often overwhelmed by warfare and violence? * 9. What are the responsibilities and limitations of families, voluntary organizations, markets and governments? How can these elements of society work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, care for creation and overcome injustice? * 10. How will our nation resist what Pope John Paul II calls a growing culture of death? Why does our nation turn to violence to solve some of its most difficult problems - to abortion to deal with difficult pregnancies, to the death penalty to combat crimes, to euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of age and illness?

Bishops promote politics of moral issues By Patricia Rice Post-Dispatch Religion Writer

WASHINGTON - Catholic leaders want to shape the November 2000 election debate around justice, peace and human life and dignity issues.

On Tuesday, the second day of the National Catholic Bishops Conference, the 290 bishops took a step to mobilize the nation's 61 million Catholics to focus on "a new kind of politics."

They approved a $100,000 budget to mount a major campaign to encourage Catholic participation in the elections. The campaign is called "Faithful Citizenship - Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium." The plans call for more participation and less cynicism. Bishops hope for more civil dialogue on key issues and less partisan posturing and attack ads.

Each of the nation's 19,628 Catholic parishes will receive a 28-page booklet, video and kit to help Catholics ask 10 questions that can help focus issues in next fall's national and local elections. Many parishes are expected to order the 10-question cards, or the campaign's 28-page issues booklet for each parishioner. Catholics make up about 23 percent of the population.

The bishops say they are not seeking a religious voting bloc. They want a political debate to focus more on moral principles than on the latest polls, more on the needs of the poor and vulnerable than the contributions of the rich and powerful, said John Kerr, secretary of the Catholic Conference's Social Development and World Peace Department.

"This election should not be about the economy," he said. "Not when this country has schoolyards that are war zones, racists dragging a man through the streets to his death because he is black and murderers hanging a man from a fence because he is a homosexual."

Many Americans do not have basic health care or cannot afford basic housing, he said. Family farmers are losing their way of life. The environment, debt relief for the world's poorest nations, refugee and immigrant protection are other key issues being discussed at the conference.

The parish kits, video and 28-page booklet encourage nonpartisan voter registration at churches. Parish groups are encouraged to distribute issue questionnaires to all candidates. Parish groups are urged to hold strictly nonpartisan candidate nights. Under church and civil law, churches may not endorse particular candidates nor hold events for them.

In other action, the bishops approved a final draft of a letter calling on the United Nations to end the 9-year-old economic sanctions against Iraq.

"The sanctions are hurting children more than anyone," said Archbishop Theodore E. McCormick of Newark, N.J. He is the chairman of the Catholic Bishops International Policy Committee. Some Catholic sisters, a few bishops and other missionaries have visited Iraq and seen children dying because they have no basic medicines and food. The embargo causes "unparalleled and unmerited suffering."

Efforts to mitigate the suffering inflicted by sanctions - specifically the oil-for-food programs - are insufficient to feed the children and other Iraqi noncombatants, the statement says. The fundamental principle of war says that states may not seek to destroy a government or the armed forces by targeting the innocent, the statement says.

The bishops sent a recommendation to Pope John Paul II endorsing efforts to canonize human rights advocate Bishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered while saying Mass in his church in El Salvador in 1980. Cardinal James Hickey of Washington - who had attended Romero's funeral - was one of several men who called Romero a martyr and "a man of God."

The bishops approved a new administrative structure that will consolidate the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and its public policy division, the United States Catholic Conference. The name expected to be chosen for the merged groups - the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - will not be voted on until next fall.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list