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 the U.S. bishops told the Democratic and Republican party platform committees June 29. Writing on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Conference, Msgr. Dennis M. Schnurr, USCC general secretary, submitted testimony to both committees in the form of the text of "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium," the bishops' political responsibility statement issued before each U.S. presidential election. "The bishops seek the support of people of good will of every religious or political persuasion for our policy positions, since we firmly believe that they advance the common good of all," said Msgr. Schnurr in his letter of transmittal. The testimony went to the chairmen of each party's platform committee -- U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton for the Democrats and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson for the Republicans. "It has been our experience that our framework does not easily fit the categories of any political party," Msgr. Schnurr said, adding that he believed the bishops' "Faithful Citizenship" document "can make an important contribution to the document you will place before your convention." 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 Los
Angeles. The bishops' document offers guidance on a variety of issues under the general topics of protecting human life, promoting family life, pursuing social justice, and practicing global solidarity. "We believe that every human life is sacred from conception to natural death; that people are more important than things; and that the measure of every institution is whether or not it enhances the life and dignity of the human person," said the document, issued by the bishops last October. The bishops also called on each Catholic in the United States to "become an informed, active and responsible participant in the political process." "As Catholics, we are not free to abandon unborn children because they are seen as unwanted or inconvenient; to turn our backs on immigrants because they lack the proper documents; to turn away from poor women and children because they lack economic or political power," they said. "No polls or focus groups can release us from the responsibility to speak up for the voiceless, 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 copies have been distributed. Meanwhile, a coalition of more than 55 organizations and members of Congress held a press conference June 29 to call on the Republican Party to again adopt a pro-life plank in its 2000 platform. The Coalition for Re-Adoption of the 1996 Pro-Life Plank in 2000 called on
Republicans "to uphold the pro-life tenets in the plank -- the support of a human life amendment, the opposition to the use of public funds for abortion, and the appointment of judges who respect the sanctity of human life." The appointment of pro-life judges is especially important in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortion, the coalition said. "In the spirit of America's Founding Fathers and of the Declaration of Independence signed 224 years ago in Philadelphia, which established the self-evident truth that 'all men ... are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life...,' we seek to re-adopt in the GOP platform the principle that 'the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the coalition said in a statement. Catholic members of the coalition include former GOP presidential candidate Alan L. Keyes, theologian Michael Novak, Mercedes Wilson of Family of the Americas and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. The coalition also includes representatives of the Republican National Coalition for Life, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Presbyterians Pro-Life, Traditional Values Coalition and American Family Association.
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