Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has been rated the Best Choice for Catholic Voters, based on an independent analysis by The Defend Life blog of Maryland. The analysis used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' criteria in Faithful Citizenship - its guide for Catholic voters - to rate the various candidate's platforms and has determined that Ron Paul's positions are most compatible with the USCCB standards.
Using a point system that gave greater weight for "non-negotiable" issues such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and gay marriage, the analysis lined up all the candidates to see where they stand on a broad array of issues.
Ron Paul (R) scored highest with a score of 99, with Alan Keyes (R) following with 70, and Mike Huckabee (R) third with 69. Dead last was the purportedly Catholic Rudy Giuliani (R) with -28 and Barack Obama (D) with -15. Hilary Clinton (D) scored a -11 and Fred Thompson (R) scored only a 4.
The Catholic vote in America is critical for the 2008 presidential election. Some have argued that Catholics are statistically invisible as voters, that they divide along the same partisan tribal lines as most Americans.
This is not true.
The last election was won in Ohio due largely to the presence of Catholic voters who significantly voted against John Kerry because of his culture of death platform and his rationally inconsistent statements such as, "I believe life begins at conception, but I can't impose my Catholic beliefs on others as president." Such idiocy was not going to wash over faithful and informed Catholics.
After this election, the Democrats began a deliberate "values voters" offensive to cloak these same culture of death positions in a rhetoric of "faith and values." The Democrats haven't changed their positions, they have just massaged their rhetoric and scheduled more speeches at churches.
The Republicans have shown their true colors as well. Last election was all about values, but then the neo-conservative radicals in the party have such a grip that the party has shrunk and they have given the electorate Rudy - the most terrible candidate on values - because he is a war hawk neo-con who will continue to wage an unjust war.
So the Catholic vote is important. But more importantly, Catholic voting principles are what matter. These principles are immutable and the best source for learning about them is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
A number of faithful Catholics (and not so faithful Catholics) have published Voter's Guides to help inform the Catholic population as to the Catholic framework for choosing a candidate. In that same spirit, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote "Faithful Citizenship." As a document of the USCCB, Faithful Citizenship does not have magisterial status along the same lines as a document from the Holy Father, or one of the Congregations in the Curia, or even one from a bishop writing to his flock.
Often bishop conference documents are criticised for being unhelpful, bland and inconclusive. A bishop's conference does not have ecclesial status and the process of creating a collective document results in undermining the authority that the Church truly has. Even Cardinal Ratzinger has noted that the bishops' conference in Germany during the rise of the Nazis had the effect of watering down and muting the strength of the church's opposing voice to this evil.
So in making reference to the Faithful Citizenship document, it is done with a hefty grain of salt and light because true to form the document tends to lack both.
The Defend Life analysis can be read in detail here: