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Pope’s voting advice: Study issues, pray, vote your conscience



Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM AZERBAIJAN — Catholics facing difficult political choices must study the issues, pray about the election and then vote according to their consciences, Pope Francis said.

A man exits a voting booth in Laconia, N.H., Feb. 9. (CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA)

A man exits a voting booth in Laconia, N.H., Feb. 9. (CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA)

Flying back to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2, the pope was asked by a reporter what U.S. Catholics should do in a presidential election where both candidates hold some positions contrary to church teaching.

Although he was in a relaxed mood and welcomed reporters’ questions for almost an hour, Pope Francis said he would never comment on a specific electoral campaign.

“The people are sovereign,” he said. “Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”

Pope Francis also was asked when he would name new members to the College of Cardinals and what criteria he would use to choose them.

He said he still had not decided precisely when to announce the names or hold the consistory to create the new cardinals, but it would likely be at the end of this year or the beginning of 2017.

As for the choices, Pope Francis said, the list of worthy candidates is long, “but there are only 13 places” to reach the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80.

The selection process will aim for a geographic mix, he said. “I like it when one can see in the College of Cardinals the universality of the church, not just the European center, shall we say.”

Although he and the reporters traveling with him had not yet returned to Rome and already were set to go to Sweden Oct. 31-Nov. 1, a journalist asked the pope where he would be traveling in 2017.

A trip to Fatima, Portugal, is definite, he said. He intends to go May 13 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Also on the calendar, the pope said, is a trip to India and Bangladesh and another trip to Africa, although the specific nation or nations has not been decided.

Asked about his promise to visit Colombia after peace was established in the country, Pope Francis said the peace agreement signed in September between the government and rebels was important, but the people of Colombia still have to vote to ratify the agreement and begin the real work of living in peace.

In addition, Pope Francis confirmed that he had spoken with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, about setting aside the usual five-year waiting period to allow the collection of eyewitness testimony regarding the murder in July of French Father Jacques Hamel as he celebrated Mass.

“It is very important not to lose the testimonies,” the pope said. “With time, someone may die, another forgets something.”


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Voters Guide: Maryland Catholic Conference candidate surveys



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.


Answer Key



Blank=No response



S=United States Senate

H=House of Representatives


Survey Questions of Candidates


  1. ASSISTED SUICIDE. Congress should not pass legislation to allow physicians to legally prescribe a dose of lethal medication at the request of patients with a terminal illness.


  1. CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS. Congress should pass legislation forbidding governmental bodies to discriminate against individual and institutional health care providers that do not perform, refer for or pay for abortions, such as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.


  1. EDUCATION. Congress should enact legislation that supports the ability of low-income families to choose the education best suited to their children’s needs, such as tax credits for business donations to organizations providing scholarships for K-12 students to attend nonpublic schools or the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.


  1. IMMIGRATION. Congress should pass comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform providing a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the U.S., while preserving family unity and restoring due process protections to enforcement policies.


  1. JUSTICE REFORM. Congress should enact measures that decrease incarceration rates and recidivism by reducing mandatory minimums and investing in increased rehabilitative services and re-entry programs for offenders, such as the Sentencing Reform Act of 2105.




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