Cover story -- Presidential election
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Issue Date:  November 23, 2007

Catholics urge civility in run-up to 2008 elections

WASHINGTON -- A year to the day before the 2008 presidential elections, a group of Catholics urged civility in American politics, asking Catholic voters and politicians to avoid dragging the church into divisive partisanship.

With five Catholic candidates in the presidential field, the group released a statement cowritten by former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Thomas Melady addressing issues raised in the campaign.

The document came one week before Catholic bishops met in Baltimore to debate their election-year document, “Faithful Citizenship,” on the role of Catholics in public life.

Forty-seven prominent Catholics, including former politicians and ambassadors, signed the statement, which was released Nov. 6 by Melady and 14 others at a Washington news conference.

It is not the place of lay Catholics to question whether politicians who take positions conflicting with church teaching should receive Communion, their statement says.

At the same time, “Catholic politicians who advertise their Catholicism as part of their political appeal, but ignore the church’s moral teachings in their political life, confuse non-Catholics by giving the appearance of hypocrisy,” the statement said.

The statement also urges church members to remember there are Catholics “of equally good will but differing political convictions” who deserve their respect.

Other signers included former Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf; Terry McAuliffe, former head of the Democratic National Committee; and former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating.

So far, the effort is geared strictly toward lay Catholics. The group has not invited clergy to sign because “they are not supposed to take part in partisan politics,” Melady said.

-- Religion News Service

National Catholic Reporter, November 23, 2007

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