WASHINGTON July 3, 2000 (CNS) -- The platforms of both major political parties "should be measured by how they touch the human person," a representative of theU.S. bishops told the Democratic and Republican party platform committeesJune 29.Writing on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Conference, Msgr. Dennis M. Schnurr,USCC general secretary, submitted testimony to both committees in the formof the text of "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a NewMillennium," the bishops' political responsibility statement issued beforeeach U.S. presidential election."The bishops seek the support of people of good will of every religious orpolitical persuasion for our policy positions, since we firmly believe thatthey advance the common good of all," said Msgr. Schnurr in his letter oftransmittal.The testimony went to the chairmen of each party's platform committee --U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Minneapolis Mayor Sharon SaylesBelton for the Democrats and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson for theRepublicans."It has been our experience that our framework does not easily fit thecategories of any political party," Msgr. Schnurr said, adding that hebelieved the bishops' "Faithful Citizenship" document "can make animportant contribution to the document you will place before yourconvention."The Republican convention is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 3 in Philadelphia,while the Democratic convention is set to take place Aug. 14-17 in LosAngeles.The bishops' document offers guidance on a variety of issues under thegeneral topics of protecting human life, promoting family life, pursuingsocial justice, and practicing global solidarity.
"We believe that every human life is sacred from conception to naturaldeath; that people are more important than things; and that the measure ofevery institution is whether or not it enhances the life and dignity of thehuman person," said the document, issued by the bishops last October.The bishops also called on each Catholic in the United States to "become aninformed, active and responsible participant in the political process.""As Catholics, we are not free to abandon unborn children because they areseen as unwanted or inconvenient; to turn our backs on immigrants becausethey lack the proper documents; to turn away from poor women and childrenbecause they lack economic or political power," they said. "No polls orfocus groups can release us from the responsibility to speak up for thevoiceless, to act in accord with our moral convictions."A "Faithful Citizenship" packet was distributed to more than 19,000 U.S.parishes and dioceses last fall. Since then, an additional 65,000 copieshave been distributed.Meanwhile, a coalition of more than 55 organizations and members of Congressheld a press conference June 29 to call on the Republican Party to againadopt a pro-life plank in its 2000 platform.The Coalition for Re-Adoption of the 1996 Pro-Life Plank in 2000 called onRepublicans "to uphold the pro-life tenets in the plank -- the support of ahuman life amendment, the opposition to the use of public funds forabortion, and the appointment of judges who respect the sanctity of humanlife.
"The appointment of pro-life judges is especially important in the wake ofthe U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of Nebraska's ban on partial-birthabortion, the coalition said."In the spirit of America's Founding Fathers and of the Declaration ofIndependence signed 224 years ago in Philadelphia, which established theself-evident truth that 'all men ... are endowed by the Creator with certainunalienable rights; that among these are life...,' we seek to re-adopt inthe GOP platform the principle that 'the unborn child has a fundamentalindividual right to life which cannot be infringed," the coalition said ina statement.Catholic members of the coalition include former GOP presidential candidateAlan L. Keyes, theologian Michael Novak, Mercedes Wilson of Family of theAmericas and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.The coalition also includes representatives of the Republican NationalCoalition for Life, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America,Presbyterians Pro-Life, Traditional Values Coalition and American FamilyAssociation.