|Bishop David Ricken of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay|
Ricken’s letter, dated Oct. 24, notes that the church has a responsibility to “speak out regarding moral issues, especially on those issues that impact the ‘common good.’” It goes on to note principles to keep in mind in the voting booth on Nov. 6, including abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and gay marriage.
“A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals,” Ricken said in the letter. “Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform. To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally ‘complicit’ with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.”
Ricken's letter specifically criticized the Obama administration's abortion mandate as a frontal attack on religious freedom, and an indicator "of a broader societal disposition to remove God from the public square and fom any relation to society whatever, It is precisely religion and the free exercise thereof which has made this country great in the past."
While Ricken’s letter does not specify who should get parishioners’ votes, Republican candidates typically oppose abortion rights while Democrats, to a large degree, support them. On the abortion issue, for example, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney have different views. The Democratic incumbent supports access to abortion without restriction, mandating free contraception for women and changing his mind this year to endorse gay marriage. Romney is socially conservative, opposing gay marriage and abortion rights and saying the government should not mandate free contraception.
Ricken’s guidance on these issues carry a lot of weight in this region — the diocese has 304,614 members in 16 counties. Across the state, Catholics make up more than 25 percent of the population, or 1.5 million people, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies’ 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study.
Read Bishop David Ricken's letter.