October 20, 2008
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Once again on Election Day this November 4th, we citizens of the United States will be faced with important decisions that affect the lives of all in our society. Voting is both a duty and a responsibility and reflects a conscience properly formed by basic moral principles. As your bishop I am not telling you which candidates to vote for, rather I am asking you to bring a moral perspective into the voting booth so that the best possible candidates may emerge to serve the people of our State of Alabama and nation.
Various voter guides have emerged, sharing particular perspectives that may reflect to a degree our religious moral perspective. The Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship last November. This is the only statement I support or affirm for use or distribution in parishes and Catholic institutions of our diocese, along with the derivative summation of it In the Voting Booth: A Catholic Guide, published by Our Sunday Visitor.
We Catholics have an obligation to study the positions held by those who run for elected office. We should reflect on how these potential policies will affect the way we live and act in our country – do these positions match what Our Lord Jesus Christ taught and continues to teach through his Body, the Church, on how the just are to live in this world? We should make our voices heard in these elections so that candidates may know that what we believe will have a direct consequence on how we will vote. We should pray that both politicians and political parties will experience a conversion of heart when it comes to the treatment of the marginalized in our own land.
I would like to quote from a recent joint pastoral letter issued on September 12, 2008 by the bishops of Kansas City in Kansas and Missouri. In their letter, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Finn point out that some issues allow diversity in our prudential judgments. Others involve non-negotiable principles. A correct conscience recognizes that there are some choices that always involve doing evil such as: “legalized abortions, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination, or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.”
They further point out, “that to vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified.”
As Americans, we are faced with important decisions during this national election. I encourage all of you to exercise your freedom and vote for those who share our values of morality and social justice this election year, and to make our voices heard on Election Day.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.
Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama