Texas bishops up the ante
Two Texas bishops, Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, have issued a strongly worded joint statement about the priority of abortion as a moral issue in this election season. Contrary to many interpretations of the U.S. bishops' Faithful Citizenship document, which holds abortion as one very important issue among many others, Farrell and Vann argue that "there are no 'truly grave moral' or 'proportionate' reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by abortion each year." In other words, according to these bishops, you may choose to vote for a pro-choice candidate if all in the race are pro-choice, but if one is pro-life, Catholics are obliged to vote for that candidate no matter what her position is on other issues.
The bishops go on to list a number of intrinsic moral evils that would disqualify a candidate from a Catholic voters deliberation: "legalized abortion, the promotion of same sex unions and 'marriages,' repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permiting euthanasia, racial discrimination, or destructive human embryonic stem cell research." That's quite a list, though I must admit it seems odd to equate civil recognition of same-sex couples with abortion and euthanasia, which according to Catholic teaching are forms of murder.
Texas, of course, is hardly a battleground state, but news that the bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Joseph Martino, ordered that a letter with similar conclusions be read at all Masses on October 4 and 5 (replacing the homily) in his diocese may provoke a swing to the GOP in that battleground state.
Or it may provoke a backlash among Catholics, many of whom do not want their bishops telling them how to vote.