Defense of innocent human life should be “uppermost” in the mind of Catholic voters at election time, the bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania, has told Catholics in his diocese.

In a letter issued Sept. 9 on voting in the upcoming presidential elections, Bishop Alfred Schlert of Allentown said that “abortion and euthanasia are the ‘preeminent’ issues in forming an opinion about how to vote,” citing Catholic teaching as outlined by the U.S. bishops and Pope Francis.

Schlert cited Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici to underline this point; that document stated that “the right to health, to home, to work, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”

Catholics, Schlert said, should be voting with the intent of protecting innocent human life “uppermost” in their minds.

“While there is no initiative on the part of the Church to support one candidate over another,” said Schlert, “it is an indispensable obligation of bishops, priests, and deacons to inform the faithful about the hierarchy of issues that must be considered in conscience by every voting Catholic.”

Bishop Schlert exhorted Catholics to vote, but to do so in a serious manner and with a “well-formed conscience.”

Voters could be faced with “many challenges and much soul-searching” in this election cycle, he noted, as “[t]here never are, and are not now, perfect candidates for office.”

Nevertheless Catholics should form their consciences according to the teaching of the Church, “especially on the overriding, foundational issues of abortion and euthanasia,” he said.

Abortion has been addressed extensively by both presidential candidates, President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden. 

Trump has promised to “fully defund the big abortion industry of our taxpayer dollars” and “overcome Democratic filibusters in Congress” to sign a 20-week abortion ban and legislation protecting babies who survive abortion attempts. 

Biden supports taxpayer-funded abortion, and has said that his health care “public option” would fund abortion and contraception, and has promised to review state laws regulating abortions, such as ultrasound or parental consent requirements.

The issues of euthanasia or of doctor-prescribed suicide do not appear in the 2020 Democratic Party platform; the 2020 Republican Party platform, recycled from 2016, states its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Full story at Catholic News Agency.