Pennsylvania is a swing State, a Gore2000 State which could support the President this year, and their Catholic Bishops have released a document called Catholic Conscience and Public Policy. It does not endorse a candidate; rather, it endorses their religion.
The document [text] takes the form of an introduction and Q&A for Catholics. The last question asked and answered is: "Does the Church seek to impose its morality? Doesn't that violate the separation of church and state?"
The Constitution protects the free exercise of religion, even as it prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored religion or church. The separation of church and state - so often misunderstood - in no way implies a separation of law from morality nor morality from public life. Some people claim that morality cannot and should not be legislated. This overlooks the important fact that law often makes a moral claim, forbidding some action or requiring another.Of course, JF Kerry -- citing the non-existent Pope Pius XXIII -- disagrees: "My oath between me and God was defined in the Catholic Church by Pius XXIII."
Further in that answer is this statement which brings to mind Kerry and his "Catholicism":
These types of laws and regulations [mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, access to abortion, forced abortion training for medical students, same-sex marriages, etc.] require the Church to sacrifice its integrity - the very core of its beliefs, traditions, and teachings. The imposition of these coercive requirements by the State prohibits in specific areas the ability of the Church to participate in the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion…. To force the Church to compromise its integrity by imposing regulations that are opposed to its teachings and its very conscience, not only violates the Church's right to be Catholic, but also abrogates our nation's founding principle of religious freedom.I'm not a Catholic and I cannot speak for the Church; I am repeating what the Catholic Church has again and again stated.
(Hat tip to Steve Clark, host of Two-Way Radio on WRTA in Altoona, Pennsylvania.)
I wrote a post on "Iraq the Model" some time back in which I opined religious leaders provided a critical ingredient to the political health of a country by providing citizens a moral framework within which citizens could evaluate policies and make their individual decisions. When they stepped beyond that to direct specific directions (i.e., the Archbishop of Canterbury on global warming or Gitmo prisoners), they lost their credibility and became just another interest group. I was speaking of Mullahs in that post, but the comment applies equally to Christians.
I pleased to see the Catholic Bishops striking an appropriate balance between moral leadership and political advocacy.
I agree with you, David. The clergy of any religion that is worth anything have an obligation to guide their flock. It ceases to be a valid religion if it tries to be "anything goes." Catholicism places demands on its adherents, as does any worthwhile faith. If you cannot adhere to the faith, you do not have the faith.