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Will the United States Avoid Fiscal Cliff?

As the end of the year approaches, attention turns to the looming “fiscal cliff,” the agreement to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts and to cut spending that Congress and the President reached when the Congressional budget “supercommittee” failed to reach a consensus on getting the U.S. fiscal house in order this past year.

And the U.S. fiscal house is definitely not in order. Presently, the national debt stands at $16 trillion. The interest payment alone on this debt is $450 billion annually, based upon present low interest rates. Commitments to social and farming programs also cost the U.S. big each year. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2011 interest payments on the national debt and our commitments to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and farm subsidies amounted to 63 percent of the U.S. budget. Based upon projected growth in these commitments, by 2025 payments to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and debt service alone will amount to 100 percent of the U.S. budget, leaving no money for education, improving infrastructure, disaster relief and other programs. At the same time, in 2011, the U.S. spent $700 billion on national defense. We spent more on defense than the next 17 nations combined!

When the Congressional budget supercommittee failed to reach a deal this past year, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating. Moody’s is waiting to see what the latest negotiations bring before deciding on a downgrade.

Will President Obama and Congress agree to a deal before the end of the year? The latest reports indicate that Speaker John Boehner and President Obama have been meeting in person on a fairly regular basis and that they are discussing ways to both increase revenue and address the rising cost of social programs. Let’s pray that they reach an agreement, and soon!

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2012 Election Resource Kit for Missouri Catholics

Download a PDF of the election resource kit here.

As the 2012 election approaches, many families worry about their financial future. Some have members who are unemployed. Others are mired in deep poverty. There are also more direct attacks on the sanctity and dignity of human life, such as the continued legal protection of abortion on demand. Globally, new crises are unfolding, such as the millions of children now facing starvation in West Africa. Finally, new concerns have emerged about our most cherished freedom – our religious liberty.

It is up to the lay faithful to decide how best to advance the moral concerns so frequently addressed in Church teaching. The Church’s role is to assist Catholics in the formation of their conscience, but not to tell people who to vote for.

Some Catholics may be so discouraged with the partisan nature of American politics that they do not want to vote or pay any attention to the politicians. As Catholics, however, we are called to participate in our democracy. It is an old maxim but a true one that if good people do nothing bad things happen. This is what Pope John Paul II essentially meant when he visited our nation and told us that “democracy needs virtue.”

As the public policy agency for the Catholic Church in Missouri, the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC) does not endorse or oppose, rank or rate candidates for public office. The MCC’s role is to provide unbiased voter education material to Catholics.

In this resource kit, the MCC offers practical tips on how Catholics and their parishes can participate in the 2012 election. Suggestions range from voter registration drives to conducting forums with candidates at parish halls. In all of these activities parishes must conform to federal laws that govern what tax-exempt organizations can and cannot do when participating in election activities. See What Churches Can and Cannot Do During Elections (Section III) for more.

As Catholics, we have a moral obligation to participate in our American democracy. Don’t stand on the sidelines. Work this year to protect the sanctity and dignity of all human life, preserve our religious freedoms and uphold the common good of all, including the very poor and vulnerable. We are all in this together; help spread the light of Christ in this important election year.

Mike Hoey
MCC Executive Director

(If you are using Internet Explorer and are having issues downloading the PDF, try right-clicking the link below and then clicking “save as” or “save target as,” and then saving the PDF to your desktop.)

Download a PDF of the election resource kit here.

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MCC 2012 Candidate Survey: Statewide Candidate Results

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.

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MCC 2012 Candidate Survey: State Representative Candidate Results

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 state representative 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.

State Representative 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.

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MCC 2012 Candidate Survey: State Senate Candidate Results

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 state senate 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.

State Senate 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.

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MCC 2012 Candidate Survey: Federal Candidate Results

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.