The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy agency for the Catholic bishops of Missouri, has conducted a survey of candidates running for state and federal public offices in 2012. The MCC presents the results of this survey for voter education purposes. The MCC does not endorse or oppose any candidate, under any circumstance, and no inference of endorsement or opposition should be concluded as a result of the information provided here.
Below find the statements the MCC presented to statewide candidates in this survey followed by relevant Church teaching. This is followed by the candidates’ responses to the statements. If a candidate did not respond to the survey, the candidate’s name is provided followed by blank spaces.
From the perspective of Catholic teaching, not all issues are morally equivalent. As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated, intrinsic evils “must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent life, as in abortion and euthanasia.” At the same time, Catholics must not use opposition to these intrinsic evils to dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity, such as “the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy.” For more on how the Church evaluates issues out of its moral teaching tradition, review Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
Statewide Candidates — Survey Statements and Catholic Teaching
1. People should have the right to refuse to pay for abortions, abortion drugs and other items they morally object to in their health insurance plans. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“]Catholic teaching states that no one should be forced to act contrary to his or her conscience (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1782). In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II declared: “To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is a basic human right.” [/spoiler]
2. Health care providers should have the right to refuse to participate in conduct that violates their moral and religious convictions, such as performing abortions or distributing abortion drugs. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] Catholic teaching states that no one should be forced to act contrary to his or her conscience (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1782). In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II declared: “To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is a basic human right.” [/spoiler]
3. Churches should be able to sponsor soup kitchens and food pantries for immigrants without the government requiring them to check the legal status of those who come for assistance.
[spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “Without condoning undocumented migration, the Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all – especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. Welcoming the Stranger Among Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops). [/spoiler] 4. Missouri should repeal the death penalty. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2267). [/spoiler] 5. State funding should continue for the Alternatives to Abortion (ATA) program. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:”] The MCC spearheaded establishment of ATA, which offers women in crisis pregnancies assistance such as baby supplies, emergency shelter, counseling and adoption placement. The U.S. Catholic bishops have expressed strong support for “legislation that provides morally acceptable alternatives to abortion, including funding to expand education, health, nutrition, and other services for disadvantaged parents and their children.” Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities). [/spoiler] 6. State funds should not subsidize research that destroys human life at the earliest stage of development, such as embryonic stem cell research. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2274)“The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end.” (Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life). [/spoiler] 7. Tax deductions or credits should be available to K-12 school parents – public, private and religious – for the expenses incurred in educating their children. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “Parents—the first and most important educators—have a fundamental right to choose the education best suited to the needs of their children, including public, private, and religious schools. Government, through such means as tax credits and publicly funded scholarships, should help provide resources for parents, especially those of modest means, to exercise this basic right without discrimination. Students in all educational settings should have opportunities for moral and character formation.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, U.S. Catholic Bishops). [/spoiler] 8. The interest rate or fees on payday loans should be capped and other measures taken to protect borrowers from predatory lending. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “The weakest members of society should be helped to defend themselves against usury, just as poor peoples should be helped to derive real benefit from micro-credit, in order to discourage the exploitation that is possible in these two areas.” (Pope Benedict XVI, In Charity and Truth) [/spoiler] 9. State funds should continue to be available to provide in-home care to the indigent elderly. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] In-home care for low-income elderly persons allows them to stay in their own home and avoid entering a nursing home; this saves taxpayers’ money but more importantly it better respects the dignity of these persons by allowing them to stay in familiar surroundings. [/spoiler] 10. Tax credits that promote charitable giving to food pantries, pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes should be enacted. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] These tax credits promote charitable giving to programs that assist the hungry, the homeless and women in crisis pregnancies. Catholic teaching supports partnerships where government offers tax relief to humanitarian organizations that assist the poor and desperate. (See, for example, Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical On Christian Love, par. 30) [/spoiler]
For each statement, candidates were asked to respond as follows: agree, disagree or no position. The numbers across the top column correspond to the statement numbers listed above.