Individual Conscience In Moral Decision Matters At Core of Catholic Tradition
Senator Biden is to be commended for recognizing the proper place for personal religious conviction in the political arena. As a Catholic, he has a responsibility to inform his conscience and decisions with church teaching; as a policy maker, he has a responsibility to his constituents and to the people of many religious faiths and no faith that make up the foundation of America.
It is telling that on the eve of the final Congressional session of 2008, the secretariat of pro-life activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a series of print ads outlining the bishops’ opposition to embryonic stem-cell research and abortion. The ad “campaign” was launched as Congress returns for its final session and the two political parties gear up for a tight presidential campaign and many congressional races. This leaves no doubt as to the bishops’ priorities in this election year.
The bishops have once again chosen to place themselves at the center of the political discussion on abortion. While the bishops continue in their attempt to make reproductive rights the single national issue that Catholic should vote on, Catholic voters themselves place much greater priority on the basic bread-and-butter issues that most affect our country—the economy, war and health care.
Protection of religious freedom is mandatory and guaranteed in our pluralistic society. Thankfully, there are Catholics in public life, such as Senator Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who want to inform their actions by their faith, their conscience and the voices of their constituents. They want to protect the freedoms of all Americans, from every faith group and no faith group. They know that by letting conscience and voters guide them—and not bending to the dictates of the Catholic bishops—they will best serve all Americans.
This entry originally appeared on 14 September 2008 on The Hill’s Congress Blog.