Green Bay Bishop David Ricken recently sent parishioners a letter warning that voting for candidates who support what he called “intrinsically evil” positions could “put your own soul in jeopardy.”
He was specifically targeting political candidates who support marriage equality and reproductive choice, which the Roman Catholic Church believes are the two most important issues facing the world.
Ricken’s letter says the Catholic Church has a responsibility to speak out on moral issues, but his missive notes mostly issues related to reproduction and same-sex relations. His letter lists specific issues that parishioners should keep in mind when voting, including abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and gay marriage.
Roman Catholic officials in other jurisdictions have refused communion to political candidates and leaders who oppose the Vatican’s views on these issues. There are few if any contemporary reports, however, about denying sacraments to leaders who support war, capital punishment, denying health care to millions, cutting aid to the poor and policies that favor the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the bishop’s letter does not specify who should get parishioners’ votes.
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has 304,000 members in 16 counties. The diocese has repeatedly made headlines in recent years due to revelations that officials systematically destroyed records about priests who molested children in an effort to protect them from legal authorities.
The practice emerged in a fraud case brought against the diocese by victims. Top Green Bay Catholic officials destroyed criminal evidence of child sex crimes as well as a decade’s long practice of concealing and transferring known clergy child molesters to new parish assignments, where they were free to prey on other children.