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 federal 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.
Federal Candidates — Survey Statements and Catholic Teaching
1. The HHS mandate that forces religious employers to pay for contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion-inducing drugs should be rescinded.[spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] In commenting on the new HHS contraceptive mandate, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has stated: “Never before has the U.S. government forced the Catholic Church to provide a product that violates our religious beliefs. Any scenario that forces us to do so is unacceptable. As your shepherd, I simply cannot stand by while our first, most-cherished freedom is eroded … that is our religious liberty!” (Letter regarding Archdiocesan legal action on HHS Mandate, May 21, 2012) [/spoiler]
2. Congress should pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act so that employers are not compelled to provide health coverage for items that violate their religious or moral convictions, such as abortion and 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.” (par. 74, 1995) “The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2108)[/spoiler]
3. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be amended to ensure that no federal funds are used to promote or perform abortions or to provide health coverage for abortion. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] It is a tragic irony that a new federal law purporting to create greater access to health care promotes death-dealing abortions. In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wondered: “How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted?” (par. 20, 1995) The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be amended to ensure there is no federal promotion or subsidy of abortions.[/spoiler]
4. Federal law should uphold marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should remain federal law. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] Last year in urging the continuation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said: “Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.” (Letter to President Obama, Sept. 20, 2011)[/spoiler]
5. Federal funds should not subsidize research projects that destroy human life at the earliest stage of human development, including 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, par. 57, 1995)[/spoiler]
6. Congress should enact immigration reform that allows family reunification, offers a path for undocumented persons to earn citizenship, and expands the guest worker program. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the U.S. Bishops state as one of their public policy goals: “Achieve comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, treats immigrant workers fairly, offers an earned path to citizenship, respects the rule of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries.” (par. 90) [/spoiler]
7. Social Security offers vital income benefits for the disabled and retirees; Congress should protect its funding and ensure its long-term viability. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “Social Security should provide adequate, continuing, and reliable income in an equitable manner for low- and average-wage workers and their families when these workers retire or become disabled, and for the survivors when a wage-earner dies.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, par. 79, U.S. Catholic Bishops)[/spoiler]
8. The federal earned income tax credit, which provides supplemental income to the working poor, should be retained.[spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:“] “Improving the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credits, available as refunds to families in greatest need, will help lift low- income families out of poverty.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, par. 77, U.S. Catholic Bishops) The earned income tax credit represents a means to ensure a just wage: “A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. … Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself, and his family …” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2434)[/spoiler]
9. Foreign aid should be adequately funded and include assistance to nations whose people face famine, dislocation or are the victims of natural disasters. [spoiler name=”Catholic Teaching:”] “A more just world will likely be a more peaceful world, a world less vulnerable to terrorism and other violence. The United States has the responsibility to take the lead in addressing the scandal of poverty and underdevelopment.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, par. 88, U.S. Catholic Bishops) In his encyclical In Charity and Truth, Pope Benedict XVI adds his voice to this issue: “The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.” (par. 27, 2009) [/spoiler]
10. Federal tax credits and deductions 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.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, par. 72, U.S. Catholic Bishops) [/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.