Pope Says Bishops Must Guide Their Flocks in Elections

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

While addressing the bishops of Brazil this week, Pope Benedict XVI sent a clear message to all bishops that they must guide their faithful to use their vote to oppose the culture of death.

“Dear brother bishops, to defend life we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking,” the pope said during a meeting with bishops from northeast Brazil on Oct. 28.

The Catholic News Service (CNS) is reporting that the Pope made these comments because Brazilians will be voting in a presidential election on Oct. 31.

Even though direct involvement in politics is the responsibility of the laity, he said, “when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls requires it, pastors have a serious duty to make moral judgments even in political matters.”

He also pointed out that policies promoting abortion and euthanasia, are “intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity” and cannot be justified for any reason.

“When political positions openly or covertly include plans to decriminalize abortion and euthanasia, the democratic ideal – which is truly democratic only when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person – is betrayed at its foundations,” the Pope said.

He went on to say that bishops and priests have an obligation to help Catholic laity live in a way that that is faithful to the Gospel in every aspect of their lives, including their political choices. “This also means that in certain cases, pastors should remind all citizens of their right and duty to use their vote to promote the common good,” the pope said.

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