Highlights from the 2020 version of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a statement on public and political life from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

• We bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth.

• We [Catholics] draw from both faith and reason as we seek to affirm the dignity of the human person and the common good of all.

• As citizens, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group. When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths or approve intrinsically evil acts.

• The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty.

• Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.

• There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

• When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

• As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

• Two temptations in public life can distort the church’s defense of human life and dignity. The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. … The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity.

• We must ensure that we receive refugees, asylum-seekers, and other migrants in light of the teachings of Christ and the church while assuring the security of our citizens.

• We must work to address gun violence, xenophobia, capital punishment, and other issues that affect human life and dignity. It is also essential to affirm the nature of the human person as male and female, to protect the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, and to uphold the rights of children in that regard.

• We must urgently find ways to care better for God’s creation, especially those most impacted by climate change — the poor — and protect our common home. We must resist the throw-away culture and seek integral development for all.

• At all levels of society, we are aware of a great need for leadership that models love for righteousness.

• We bishops vigorously repeat our call for a renewed kind of politics focused more on moral principles than on the latest polls, focused more on the needs of the weak than on benefits for the strong, focused more on the pursuit of the common good than on the demands of narrow interests.

To read the entire document, go to go.sentinel.org/3jqG4UC.