The U.S. Catholic bishops decided to wait until after the 2024 election to revise the document that advises Catholics how to vote.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathered in Baltimore on Wednesday for its annual fall assembly voted to keep "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" unchanged, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported.
However, a new introduction and "supplemental inserts" will be added before the next presidential election.
"We will be taking a look at what we have put out in the past, what's still relevant, what needs to be updated" and "will undoubtedly be doing some discerning and what are the things that are on people's minds that are presenting challenges," said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
"Whether it's a world war raging in Ukraine, people's questioning of our democratic system, or whatever it might be, we need to help provide some kind of guidance in any number of issues. We'll try to discern what we can offer to people and help them apply teaching in a way that's meaningful to them."
The teaching document is meant to advise Catholic voters on how to apply church teaching to voting decisions. For example, the guide states that abortion should be a "preeminent" political issue for Catholics, CNA reported.
The document was updated in 2019 to include the following introduction:
"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."
Before Wednesday's vote, several bishops raised objections to delaying revisions.
"I think the time [to revise the document] is now," said Bishop John Stowe, O.F.M. (Franciscans), of Lexington, Kentucky, CNA reported.
Stowe said revisions were needed before the next presidential election to take account the division and polarization in the country.
Cardinal Robert McElroy, of San Diego, agreed, saying that people are "uneasy" and looking for guidance on how to govern themselves "in a way that divisions and bigotry are not the hallmarks" of our political system.
Bishop Daniel DiNardo, from Galveston-Houston, Texas, joined bishops who were in favor of delaying revisions to the document.
"It can't be today's news. It is supposed to be a teaching document," said DiNardo, noting it took several years to write the original document and that the guidance does not necessarily need to reflect recent political events.
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