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July 19, 1996     The Message
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July 19, 1996

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12 , Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana July 19i.19:i I Election '96 Bishops say moral principles should guide party platforms By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In testimony submitted to the Democratic andRepublican plat- form committees, the U.S. bish- ops implored party leaders to remember the pope's admonition that democracy should safe- ard human dignity and rights. Drawn largely from the bishops' uadrennial statement on politi- :al responsibility, the testimony .mphasized the need for funda- mental moraIi:principles to guide ]eliberatiom}:0n public policy. It also include!material from Cleve- rand Bishop:thony M. Pilla's June addreH to his fellow bishops as president of the National Con- ference of Catholic Bishops and U.S. CatholicConferelce. "We insist that any political platform 'should be measured by how it touches the human per- son; whether it enhances or di- minishes human life, human dignity and human rights; and how it advances the common good," read the testimony, quot- ing from the bishops' political re- sponsibility statement released last fall. The 20-page written testi- mony reiterated the bishops' public-policy positions outlined in the political responsibility statement on such issues as abortion; arms control, arms trade and land mines; commu- nications; crime, violence and capital punishment; discrimina- tion and racism; domestic and international economic policy; education; the environment; eu- thanasia and assisted suicide; agriculture policy; health care; human rights; immigration and refugee policy; several areas of international affairs; and wel- fare reform. After explaining their posi- tions on those issues, the testi- mony said the USCC was trying to not only spell out individual issues, but"to provide an insight into he fm,damental moral principles wLich guide us in coming to these policy positions." "Without guidance by such basic principles, democracy be- comes simply a means to be used sometimes for good but at other times for ill," the testimony con- cluded. It was released July 8, as both major political parties were due to begin deliberations on election-year platforms. Each presidential election year, the U.S. bishops, along with other social action organi- zations,.submit papers on public policy positions to the two par- ties for consideration in plat- form discussions. "We make our own the pope's reminder to us (upon his depar- ture from the United States in October 1995) that 'democracy needs wisdom,"' the testimony said, quoting Pope John Paul II. Continuing to quote Pope John Paul it said, "Democracy serves what is true and right when it safeguards the dignity of every human person, when it respects inviolable and inalien- able human rights, when it t m UNITE[} $O l BANK m old NAllqL IWItP WASHINGTON-SHOALS-LOOGOOTEE i makes thecommon good theend of the principle of subsidiarity, mental confession. The incident protect or undermine human and criterion regulating all pub- lic and social life." The bishops said they consider their role as moral teachers to be the appropriate way in which to articulate the need for wisdom and virtue in democracy. "In a nonpartisan way we seek to per- suade people.., of certain fun- damental moral principles which we believe are not sectarian in nature, but which are universal and are for the benefit of all." They said support for families and family life is fundamental to the common good, which is why they promote government poli- cies that "affirm the family and help it stay together as a union of husband and wife and, as gifts of God and married life's great- est bessing, children." The church's concept of com- mon good also stresses the dig- nity of each individual and the need for society's solidarity, both domestically and internation-_ ally, the testimony said. Currently popular discussion which holds that government and other higher-level organiza- tions should not fill functions that lesser entities could handle, was also addressed. "While this principle does have something to contribute to our national debate over the proper roles of the federal and state governments, subsidiarity does not relieve us of the duty to care adequately for those in need." the bishops said. "Both subsidiarity and solidarity need to be taken into account." As for the specific issues cov- ered in the testimony, the bish: ops said they advocate on those matters because "for one thing, there are public policy matters which directly affect the life of the church and her ability to ful- fill her spiritual mission." By way of example, they noted that the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., was in the midst of a legal dispute with a local county gov- ernment over the secret tape- recording of a prisoner's sacra- illustrates the need of the church to defend the free exercise of re- ligion in its efforts to protect the Seal of Confession, the testimony said. The specific policies outlined in detail were substantially sim- ilar to those included in the po- litical responsibility statement. More than 400,000 copies of the statement have been distributed, including packets made available for every U.S. parish. Among those policy positions were the bishops' continued op- position to abortion and laws that make it more accessible, their support for a constitutional amendment to give legal protec- tion to the unborn, and their urg- ing that the platform committees support the Partial-Birth Abor- tion Ban Act. They also encouraged devel- oping community approaches to crime prevention; full enforce- ment of civil rights laws; and economic decisions that are judged in light of whether they dignity They devoted nearly three pages to a discussion 0fed- ucation issues, primarily their support for school choice pr0- grams and tax-supported edua: tion for immigrants Anot-, "i, s=ed two-and-a-half pages a, protections for the rights of ira-: migrants and refugees and'the,: appropriate direct0n 0 fira$i': gration control legislation, : "Since we truly believe thai ot social teachinghas somethinges:: sential to contribute't0thecm" :' mon good of society, the;rlsk of: trying to draw the onnectionbe: tween the general principles d : 0ur Social teaching and Pt:: tar publicpolicy stands-  aJ'( ways seemed worth:he:ana;:: even obligatory, they "" ::s" ": The bishops recalled aqu "r tion posed by the pope during a:.: homily at New Jersey:s,91s.. Stadium last October: is v -, sent da America becbming] s, " Y oward th sensitive, less canngt -t poor, the weak, the stran r L- tn the needy? It must no Father Dewig, Msgr. Meyer, and the people of Sacred Heart Church, Evansville, invite you to attend! rt Church Sunday, July 21 On the Parish Grounds West Franklin Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue or 1! Ham Dinners With Dressing and Dumplings will / be served beginning at 11:00 a.m. in our air-conditioned cafeteria Carryouts will also be available. Over $1 In Cash and Prizes will be given away! Fun for the Whole Family! Attendance every