The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

New York bishops: “We must be cautious when we vote…”

The bishops of New York state have just released a statement about the upcoming election.

A snip:

“We Catholics are called to look at politics as we are called to look at everything – through the lens of our faith. While we are free to join any political party that we choose or none at all, we must be cautious when we vote not to be guided solely by party loyalty or by self interest. Rather, we should be guided in evaluating the important issues facing our state and nation by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.

vote.jpgOur national and state elected officials have profound influence on countless matters of great importance, such as the right to life, issues of war and peace, the education of children and how we treat the poor and vulnerable. We must look at all of these issues as we form our consciences in preparation for Election Day.


Unfortunately, it is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops’ most recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship ( makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.

The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office. As Faithful Citizenship teaches, “Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.”

Read the rest here.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

This is so wonderful. Thank you for such a clear message that a Catholic’s first thought should be the sanctity of human life. A family member thinks she must vote liberal because their agenda offers healthcare to more for free. This piece is great because it shows that all issues are important, but ‘not every issue is of equal moral gravity’. As a Catholic, we have to vote for life first, and abortion is not health care!

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posted October 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm


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posted October 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Bravo! Bravo!

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posted October 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I have been Catholic all my life, but it is terribly upsetting to me when any Church tells people how to vote, or suggests that one political party is somehow more “moral” than another. I do strongly believe in separation of Church and State, and believe that corruption of BOTH is inevitable when they are joined. I very much agree that we should look at candidates individually, rather than voting according to some misguided party “loyalty”. The fact that many priests and bishops have virtually ordered members of their parish or diocese to vote a certain way, or told them not to receive Communion if they decide in their own good conscience to vote for certain candidates has caused a crisis of faith for me.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Dear Schmaize,
I am sympathetic to your expression of a “crisis of faith”. However, I am not sure that this is necessarily a bad thing. As Christians, we should try to approach every aspect of our lives through the eyes of faith. This can indeed be a great challenge, causing much anguish.
I didn’t interpret the bishop’s message as partisan…in fact, I think that they tried hard to avoid politics while focusing on the issues at hand. It is their duty after all to educate and inform their flock. Perhaps this is nuanced, but If they virtually “ordered members to…to vote a certain way” that would be wrong (I think this is in fact very rare).
When we go to the voting booth we should bring along our voter id and an informed conscience. We are on our own after that.

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posted October 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I didn’t read where the Bishops told anyone which party to vote for or for whom. If you have heard a priest or bishop do that in the past, they were wrong to do so.
Inform your conscience regarding Catholic principles and vote away!

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Deacon Brian

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm

For whom should I vote if in my considered judgement the party of the so-called pro-life candidate is cynically promising to overturn Roe-v-Wade but in reality has no intention of spending any political capital on this (it’s much too useful as a wedge issue as it stands), whereas the party of the so-called pro-choice candidate is unlikely to expand abortion on demand to any extent but is almost certain to deliver some advance in the social justice field?
My point being that it is not what a candidate promises that should determine my Catholic vote, but my judgement of what s/he is likely to deliver.
When the bishops imply that a stated pro-life position trumps everything they are either being terribly naive or deliberately obtuse.

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MD Catholic

posted October 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

. . . and when a person publicly refers to themselves as “Deacon Brian” and then goes on to criticize their Bishop(s), they are either a.) not being true to the vow of obedience to their Bishop that they took at ordination or b.) not being honest with their fellow bloggers by referring to themselves as a Deacon or c.) implying that they are an ordained Roman Catholic Deacon when, in fact, they are not.
So which is it “Deacon Brian”?

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posted October 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

One should always be cautious when one votes. Following one’s instincts and agreeing with what the candidate says he/she will(try) do when elected is the basis for an intelligent vote. Checking on their past, if indeed one can believe what one reads, also helps a voter. No religious institution’s leader (minister, rabbi, priest etc.) should try to influence their followers vote.

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Deacon Brian

posted October 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Dear MD Catholic,
I am a Roman Catholic deacon, (no need to add “ordained” since there are no “un-ordained deacons”), the answer to your multiple-choice question is “none of the above”. I suppose I should try to explain to you the distinction between “criticism” and “dis-obedience”, but it has been a busy week (three funeral homilies, two communion services preached, one Mass preached, a wedding rehearsal, one holy hour, one RCIA class taught, one blessing of animals, one Bible study class, one session of peer-supervision, one meeting of a peace group, one shut-in visit and this morning two hours in a dentist’s chair.) Tomorrow I have a wedding so I’m going to bed now; besides, from the tone of your comment I doubt you are amenable to any explanation.

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MD Catholic

posted October 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Deacon Brian,
My apologies for questioning your credentials. I just have a difficult time with those in ordained ministries openly and publicly voicing dissent with their Bishop(s). Further, many on this blog post things and I suspect misrepresent their own credentials in order to gain legitimacy. My cynical mind assumed you were one of them. There are many out there, including many who read the Deacon’s blog that obtain great excitement when they see Catholics disagreeing with each other and our Bishops. I, for one, read the article and find no issue and no inconsistency with what they are saying.

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posted October 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

As a non-Catholic, I find it strange that people would monitor one another for official compliance to religious doctrine. Is dissent of opinion allowed in Catholicism?
I guess there is a difference between the NY bishops admonishment to parishioners to vote Republican (practically speaking) or risk their immortal soul and the Catholic doctor’s admonishment of Deacon Brian not to similarly attempt to influence others by openly disagreeing with the NY bishops, but both appear to be at odds with the concept of free will in voting. I can understand an individual’s willing obedience to a religious model, but it seems strange when that model dictates the only appropriate choice in a democratic election with no alternative points of view allowed to voice their opinion.
Perhaps I’m overreacting and both parties are merely campaigning in support of their candidate, as opposed to coercing fellow Catholics through intimidation.

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posted October 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

The Taliban agree with the New York Bishops, in opposition to the Jews, that
“The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion or embryonic stem cell research. Judaism endorses the above. Juden Raus!

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Your Name

posted October 9, 2010 at 11:30 am

The Taliban agree with the New York Bishops, in opposition to the Jews, that “The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion or embryonic stem cell research….”
Judaism endorses the above evils. Juden Raus!

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bruce's caretaker

posted October 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I would like to apologize for my client’s mental illness–sorry if anyone was offended.

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posted October 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

“Bruce” is actually Rich Iott, as in …
GOP House nominee dresses as Nazi during battle reenactments
By Felicia Sonmez and Carol Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 10, 2010.
A GOP nominee for the House of Representatives drew sharp criticism from Holocaust survivors Saturday for having participated in a Nazi reenactment group devoted to a Waffen SS division.
The Atlantic magazine reported Friday that Rich Iott, a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, participated in the reenactment group for several years starting in 2003, wearing the SS uniform of fellow re-enacters. .

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