WASHINGTON — The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, while vowing to examine the moral dimensions of political issues in the forthcoming presidential campaign, warn against creation of "religious voting blocs."
And the bishops, in a 23-page statement on religion and politics, warn Catholics and other voters against taking a single-issue stand in evaluating candidates.
In their statement, issued by the administrative board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the prelates say religion is likely to continue to play an important role in the forthcoming presidential campaign.
"We bishops specifically do not seek the formation of a religious voting bloc, nor do we wish to instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates," the statement said.
"We do, however, have a right and a responsibility as teachers to analyze the moral dimensions of the major issues of our day," the statement said.
In the past, some members of the Catholic hierarchy have been criticized for suggesting that abortion should serve as a litmus test for Catholic voters in evaluating candidates.
But, they said, religion in recent years has become an inseparable part of the political process.
"Religion and politics, once thought to be topics never joined in polite conversation or public debate, have become part of our daily discourse at every level of society," the statement said.
In the statement, an updated version of similar pronouncements issued in 1976, 1979 and 1984, the bishops outlined church positions on more than a dozen issues, ranging from opposition to abortion and capital punishment to a call for raising minimum wages and establishing a national health insurance program.