How Should Catholics Vote? Bringing Moral Principles to Life

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Proceedings of the UFL Life and Learning Conference, XVI, Washington, DC.

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Heaney, Stephen J.
Pope John Paul II; Gospel of Life; politics; citizenship; human life; Bioethics and Medical Ethics; Ethics and Political Philosophy; Philosophy
article description
As a follow-up to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), the Bishops of the United States released, in 1998, a remarkable (yet little remarked) document entitled “Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics.” In November of 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life,” which, after a momentary flurry, also slipped to the back of people’s minds. These documents contain centuries of wisdom, not only practical but speculative, on the nature of participation in the life of our cities, regions and nations. Of particular interest is their statement of the principles which should govern the participation of citizens--both directly as lawmakers, and indirectly through their representatives--and the clear assertion of the primacy of the protection of human life, and of those rights and freedoms necessary to our living humanly.