NM Catholic Conference Provides A Catholic View to Election 2002

ALBUQUERQUE - Wednesday, September 25, 2002 IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The three Catholic Bishops in New Mexico met on September 24, 2002 and issued this statement on the importance of voting.

In a democracy we not only have a right but the obligation to vote and in so doing express our public policy preferences for our state and nation.

This statement is intended to serve as an educational tool for Catholic voters in New Mexico. We would hope that individuals would reflect on the message and the issues so as to be more informed voters. It is important for every citizen to register to vote, to vote and bring together the guidance of the Gospel and the opportunities of our democracy to help shape a society more respectful of human life and dignity. Early and absentee voting in New Mexico begins on September 26, 2002 and the deadline to register to vote is October 8, 2002.

The New Mexico Catholic Conference is the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in this state. We, the Catholic Bishops of New Mexico believe that every candidate, policy, and political platform should be measured by how they touch the human person: whether they enhance or diminish human life, dignity, and human rights, and how they advance the common good. As Catholics we must challenge candidates to present a clear moral vision for our nation and our state.

The Statement on Faithful Citizenship by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops identifies seven basic principles that lie at the heart of Catholic social teaching. All citizens should evaluate the issues discussed in this election year, and the policy proposals made by candidates in light of whether they support or diminish these principles.

  1. The Life and Dignity of the Human Person. Each public policy must be evaluated in light of its impact on human life and dignity.
  2. Human Rights and Responsibilities. Human dignity and the ability fulfill our responsibilities require that human rights be respected.
  3. A Call to Family and Community. The human person is not only sacred, but social. We exercise our rights and fulfill our responsibilities in community, the most basic of which is the family.
  4. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a vocation, a participation in creation. Basic rights of workers must be protected.
  5. The Option for the Poor. Poor and vulnerable persons have a special place in church teaching. We need to first consider the needs of people who are poor.
  6. Solidarity. We are one human family despite differences of race, creed, or nationality. Love our neighbor has global dimensions.
  7. Care for God’s Creation. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum. Abortion is the preeminent threat to human dignity because it directly attacks life itself. We must be concerned about our commitment to the needy and the marginal members of our society. As we consider the best way to effect change, we must not forget that our Catholic tradition is grounded in the Scriptures which exhort us to "Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves-open your mouth, decree what is just and defend the needy and the poor." Proverbs 31:8-9.

Faithful Citizenship teaches us that as citizens, we can and must participate in the debates and choices over the values, vision and those who seek to lead our state and nation. This dual calling of faith and citizenship is at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic as we look with hope to the future.

Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan, S.T.L., J.C.D
Archbishop of Santa Fe

Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B., D.D.
Bishop of Las Cruces

Most Reverend Donald Pelotte, S.S.S., D.D., Ph.D.
Bishop of Gallup

Contact person: Juan B. Montoya, Executive Director, New Mexico Catholic Conference: 505.243.8487.