The bishops’ role in politics is to help members of the community to form his or her conscience. In forming our conscience, we should:
• Approach any decision to be made with an openness to the truth and what is right.
• Study Scripture and Church teaching on the subject.
• Examine the facts/background information from a variety of sources.
• Enter a time of prayerful discernment about God’s will.
• Be courageous and act upon our convictions.
Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Principles
Ask yourselves: How do your local candidates react to these principles?
Human Life and Dignity — Human life should be protected from conception until natural death as a basic requirement of a just and moral society. It should be recognized that God created each person as male and female. Every person is entitled to basic human necessities, such as food, housing, clean water and air, education, health care, and productive work for fair wages.
Abortion — The unborn have a right to be protected against the violence of abortion. (Legislative example: A state constitutional amendment to clarify that the Iowa Constitution does not grant a right to an abortion.)
Education — Parents have the right to choose the kind of education best suited to the needs of their children. Public policy should assist parents in exercising that right. (Legislative example: Education Savings Accounts.)
Racism — Racism, both individual and systemic, is an evil, which endures in our society and should be condemned. Policies should be promoted that will combat racism and its effects in our civic and social institutions. (Legislative example: Addressing racial profiling by law enforcement.)
Care of creation — “… We live in a common home which God has entrusted to us … It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.” (Laudato Si, #232, #160) (Legislative example: adequate funding for enforcement of environmental laws; support of energy efficiency programs.)
Economic concerns — Government should give the needs of the poor and vulnerable preferential consideration. (Legislative example: protection of food assistance programs; measures to increase the availability of affordable housing.)
Health care — Health care is a human right (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #166) and essential to protecting human life and dignity, especially for those who may be vulnerable, such as the elderly, the poor, or those with disabilities. (Legislative example: support additional funding for mental health services; oppose additional work reporting requirements for Medicaid.)
Immigration — Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland. While sovereign nations have the right to control their borders, the Church recognizes that persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected. (Legislative example: opposing additional local enforcement of federal immigration laws.)
Religious liberty — Government should recognize the First Amendment right of religious groups, including religious minorities, to practice their faith and still participate fully in public life. (Legislative example: support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.)