ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski has urged parishioners to consider abortion as the main moral issue when they vote in November but said they must also consider candidates’ positions on other issues such as race, immigration and the environment.
Rozanski’s letter to parishioners published Oct. 1 in the archdiocese’s newspaper is similar to others written by Roman Catholic leaders across the country, following guidance from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Rozanski acknowledged that some Catholics would like their pastors to tell them how to vote.
“The Church doesn’t answer that question for anyone, and neither will I, and neither should any pastor,” the archbishop said. “It’s a decision for the conscience of each person, and I’m not called to replace anyone’s conscience — that’s a place where each of us stands alone before God. What I am called to do, and every pastor is called to help with, is to form consciences in accord with Catholic teaching.”
“If you don’t hold that abortion is the preeminent moral issue of our time, and if you don’t struggle to justify voting for a candidate whose record or policy would favor or even expand abortion, then you probably aren’t forming a Catholic conscience in preparation to vote,” Rozanski wrote.
But he said voters should not dismiss or ignore the church’s teaching on other important issues such as race, immigration and the environment.
Rozanski did not endorse any candidate or party.
He reminded Catholics, “Jesus is not running for office. The day after the election our primary mission will be the same: to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel in all its fullness. The winners will make some parts of that easier, and some parts incredibly hard. Either way, we’ll have a lot of work to do.”
He noted the increased dissension in American society, and he advised: “Let’s talk to one another differently in the coming month. Let’s listen to each other more deeply — to the reasons, the hurts and the hopes.”
Rozanski wrapped up by saying, “We have too much work to do together to let the powers of the world alienate us from one another.”
The leader of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Bishop James Johnston Jr., has been criticized for a similar letter in which he urged people to vote for candidates who oppose abortion, which some saw as an endorsement of Republican candidates.
MetroSTL.com staff contributed to this report.