About the Survey
Every election year, the Maryland Catholic Conference surveys the state’s candidates for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about their positions on issues of interest to Catholics. The responses of the Democratic and Republican primary candidates are below.
The candidates were asked to either “Agree” or “Disagree” with a list of issue statements. A blank response to a statement means the candidate did not choose a position on that issue.
Candidates also were given the opportunity to provide 75 words at the end of the survey on why Maryland Catholics should vote for them. Those comments are available on the Maryland Catholic Conference website: www.mdcatholic.org/elections.
Only candidates who responded to the survey are included. For a complete list of candidates, visit www.mdcatholic.org/elections. Each candidate received the survey by email. Non-responding candidates received three additional emails and were contacted at least once by phone.
The Maryland Catholic Conference does not endorse or oppose any candidate, under any circumstance, and no inference of endorsement or opposition should be concluded as a result of the information provided here.
Responses from all of the candidates can also be found on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s website at www.mdcatholic.org. The candidates who did not respond are listed below the survey grid.
Vote April 26, 2016 in the primary election. Early voting centers will be open starting Thursday, April 14 through Thursday, April 21. Visit http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/early_voting.html for more information and for locations.
How to Find Your State and Federal Congressional Districts
To identify your Congressional districts, go to the Maryland Catholic Conference website www.mdcatholic.org/FindYourLegislator.
S=United States Senate
H=House of Representatives
Survey Questions of Candidates
Catholic News Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A measure that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in the state of Maryland has been withdrawn from the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee by its sponsor, Sen. Ronald Young.
“I think it’s a reaction of relief that, for this year, this very dangerous legislation is not moving forward,” said Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Maryland’s Catholic bishops, who opposed the bill.
Russell expressed gratitude to those who had spoken against it, including advocates for the disabled, advocates for the elderly, doctors and mental health professionals, “for coming forward and making sure this legislation was seen for what it is.”
“As was made patently clear by opponents to the bill,” she said, “it would impact the lives of vulnerable people in multiple ways that can’t be fixed by amending the bill.”
Anya Naegele, associate director of respect for life for the Maryland Catholic Conference, agreed, adding that while some of the proponents of the bill were motivated by an experience with a terminally ill loved one, the opposition was driven by “the practical implications of this bill as it would manifest itself in a regulatory environment.”
Opponents had noted that the bill would have required two medical doctors, not a mental health professional, to determine that the patient had the “capacity” to make medical decisions before being prescribed lethal medication.
“It’s a very, very complex determination,” Naegele told the Catholic Review, the online publication and magazine of the Baltimore Archdiocese.
She added that subtle coercion on the part of a family member or party that would stand to benefit from the patien’s death might not affect the patient’s decision-making capacity, but might “affect the freedom with which the decision is made.”
The bill also would have required medical doctors to determine that the patient was not “suffering from a condition that is causing impaired judgment.”
Some members of the Judiciary Proceedings Committee wondered whether a terminal diagnosis itself, the bill would have made lethal drugs available to those with a prognosis of death within six months, could cause a “condition,” such as depression, that might hamper a patient’s judgment.
Opponents of physician-assisted suicide, which did not move forward for the second consecutive year in Maryland, will not be surprised if proponents return next year or in the future.
“In Maryland and around the country, proponents have been very aggressive on pushing this forward, regardless of how much opposition there is,” Russell said. “We’re hopeful that the very strong coalition of opponents would remain engaged and involved.”
“We’re just going to continue to do what we do every day,” Naegele said, “and continue to think about these issues from the perspective of how they would affect the poor and the vulnerable.”
By Erik Zygmont
Zygmont is on the staff of the Catholic Review, the online publication and monthly magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) has issued a Call to Action asking Catholics to contact members of the state General Assembly’s “Death with Dignity” workgroup in order to oppose the “dangerous idea” of physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
The MCC Dec. 4 announcement asked Catholics to contact members of the workgroup by email and/or attend the group’s hearing Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. in Room 240, Health and Government Operations Committee Room, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, to show opposition to legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Read more »
The month of November, which begins with the celebration of the companion feasts of the Solemnity of All Saints and All Souls Day, offers a time for our community of faith to pray in a special way for those who have passed to eternal life. As we remember the saints in heaven, and the souls of all those who have gone before us, this time of year also offers us an opportunity to consider important questions we might face at the hour of our own or a loved one’s death.
On a spiritual level, we pray that our journey of faith each day will lead us to a deeper awareness that this life on earth is transitory, and that our true selves will not be fully revealed until we have passed through death into eternity with God. As we more fully grasp this essential reality, we see more clearly the truth of Pope Francis’ words: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Read more »
Public Policy Positions of the Catholic Church
The Church and the Public Square
The sacredness of life and the value of human dignity form the lens through which the Church views every public policy issue, whether it involves poverty, abortion, education, the family, immigration or any other topic. Whether we are Democrat or Republican, conservative, liberal or in between, our Catholic faith should be the first and most important influence on how we think about political issues. To help Catholics understand these issues, the Maryland Catholic Conference has provided below a brief summary of policies addressed by the Church in the Public Square.
Much is at stake in the upcoming June 24 primary election in Maryland, in which candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, governor, and the Maryland General Assembly will be vying for your vote. All 188 seats in the General Assembly are up for election and more than 50 seats have been vacated by incumbents, providing an unprecedented opportunity to elect new candidates to the legislature.
During their upcoming terms, the men and women selected to represent your interests will decide many issues affecting the values the Church promotes in the public square, including the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, and the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society. Your vote, especially in the primary election when turnout often is low, can make a critical difference in who speaks for you in Congress and Annapolis. Make sure you know the issues, and where your candidates stand on matters that are important to your faith. As Pope Francis reminds us, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.”
Respect for Life
ABORTION. There is an urgent need to pass legislation in Maryland that protects unborn life, and that supports women facing crisis pregnancies. Maryland is home to one of the most permissive abortion laws in the country and has some of the highest abortion rates in the nation. Maryland is one of only four states and the District of Columbia that voluntarily fund elective abortions. Maryland has no parental consent law, no meaningful parental notification law, no informed consent law, no mandatory waiting period, no abortion reporting requirement, and no ban on late-term abortion.
STEM CELLS. The killing of human embryos in embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) – no matter how good the intention– is still the destruction of human life and has not led to human cures. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people have been treated with adult stem cells, which carry no ethical concerns. Yet Maryland largely ignores successful, ethical adult stem cell research and has spent more than $100 million on ESCR through the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.
END-OF-LIFE. Forces in modern culture promoting physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia seek to devalue the lives of the sick, the elderly, and the disabled under the guise of “choice.” Such measures not only discriminate by implying certain persons’ lives are not worth living, but threaten the very premise that every life is a gift from God, worthy of our protection.
Pope Francis has called on us to “challenge all forms of injustice,” including, “the throwaway culture and the culture of death that nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.” Patients who are elderly, terminally ill, or medically fragile deserve the comforting care of loved ones and medical treatment that alleviates pain and suffering – not a prescription to commit suicide.
Education & Family Life
EDUCATION. Catholic schools are an integral part of Maryland’s educational landscape. Pope Francis has stated that “Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture.” (Evangelii Gaudium) In addition to their commitment to moral formation and community service, Catholic schools also are a fiscally valuable resource for our state. Nearly 50,000 students attend Maryland’s Catholic schools, saving the state and its taxpayers approximately $700 million every year.
While Maryland provides some support to nonpublic school students through textbook and aging school construction programs, neighboring states routinely provide their private and parochial schools hundreds of millions of dollars more in support, including through business or individual tax credits which encourage investment in education. The U.S. bishops have reminded us that the “entire Catholic community should be encouraged to advocate for parental school choice and personal and corporate tax credits, which will help parents to fulfill their responsibility in educating their children.” (Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, 2005)
The family is important, and it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Without the family, the cultural survival of the human race would be at risk. The family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.
— Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013
FAMILY LIFE. The Church upholds marriage as the union between one man and one woman and recognizes the family unit of mother, father and child as the foundation of society. The Church promotes government policies that advance stable families and their ability to provide adequate food, housing, and other basic necessities
for their children. Employment policies should provide adequate maternity leave and sufficient sick leave to allow parents to care for their own health or that of another family member.
Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid.
— Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel),
— Apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis
POVERTY. Although Maryland has one of the highest rates of per capita income in the country, 13.8 percent of Maryland’s children were living in poverty according to the 2012 American Community Survey. In order to address the pressing needs of the vulnerable, the Church encourages public policies and budget priorities that support those who often struggle through no fault of their own to maintain the basic necessities of life.
HEALTH CARE. For decades the Catholic Church has been a leading voice for universal health care access, and for health care policies that include adequate conscience protections. A person’s right to health care is based on the principle that each life has value and each life is sacred. We must provide health care for some of our most vulnerable populations, including the working poor, immigrants, persons with disabilities and the homeless.
EMPLOYMENT. The Church promotes policies that support the dignity of work, a healthy work environment, and the ability of each individual to have access to employment. “As the state’s largest private social service provider, we witness in our Catholic ministries the painful reality of those who struggle to keep up with the basic costs of food, rent, utilities and transportation. This desperate cycle cannot end unless we as a society find a way to give all capable men and women the chance to work at a job through which they can live with true independence and dignity.” (The Dignity of Work, Maryland Bishops, 2014)
IMMIGRATION. The Catholic Church supports immigration policies that uphold the moral duty to recognize documented and undocumented immigrants as truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. Immigration policies must keep families unified and protect national borders. Recent attempts to locally implement the federal responsibility of immigration enforcement raise numerous concerns including possible safety issues for immigrants too afraid to contact police. As we pray during Mass, many of us may look and realize – new immigrants are our family.
From the Maryland Catholic Conference
For The Dialog
A week before the end of January, Alex Handy was amazed by the amount of food assistance the Ss. Peter and Paul St. Vincent de Paul chapter provided.
“We’ve given out almost 900 bags of groceries this month,” said Handy, who is on the executive team of the Easton, Md., society. “We’ve never given out that many bags in one month. This past year we gave out about 800 bags a month.”
Part of the increase can be attributed to the extreme cold temperatures of this winter, but Handy and others believe the increase had begun well before the Arctic Vortex bedeviled the United States. They view the cause as a variety of factors, such as a lack of jobs (especially in manufacturing) on the Eastern Shore and cutbacks in government assistance programs.
The poor will be on the minds of participants in the 30th annual Lobby Night sponsored by the Maryland Catholic Conference on Presidents Day, Feb. 17. The gathering informs Catholics about a variety of legislative issues of concern to the church and allows Catholics an opportunity to lobby their elected officials in the General Assembly in Annapolis. Read more »
Catholic News Service
BALTIMORE — The Maryland Catholic Conference’s executive director, vowing to work with others to bring the measure to a referendum, said the people of the state “will be outraged” at how quickly the bill to legalize same-sex marriage made it through the Legislature to final passage.
The state Senate approved it 25-22 the evening of Feb. 23 after deliberating just 48 hours. The House of Delegates had already approved the bill Feb. 17, and Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, the bill’s sponsor, has pledged to sign it quickly into law.
Catholic News Service
The same-sex marriage issue will be facing lawmakers and voters in several states this year.
Democratic-controlled legislatures in Washington state, Maryland and New Jersey are considering legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage, while Maine voters will vote on a same-sex marriage referendum in November.
Catholic Review (Baltimore)
ANNAPOLIS – Leaders of the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) expect no shortage of controversy in the 90-day session of the Maryland General Assembly that begins today, Jan. 11.
Proposals to legalize same-sex marriage, end the death penalty and cut approximately $500 million from the budget are expected to generate passionate debate and dominate much of the session, according to the MCC.