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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (ChurchMilitant.com) - Fairbanks bishop Chad Zielinski has released a clarion call to Catholics in northern Alaska, saying they can "never morally support or vote" for political candidates who support abortion.
Released earlier this month, a letter penned by the bishop seeks to guide parishioners as they take to the polls for national and statewide elections.
"It should go without saying that we have a paramount responsibility as Catholics to support candidates who will protect and defend human life from conception to natural death," Zielinski writes. "During my six years as bishop of Fairbanks, I have preached and written repeatedly on this issue, since so much [sic] of our society's ills are rooted in a disregard for the innate dignity of every human being."
Zielinski is the spiritual head of roughly 12,500 Catholics spread across 400,000 square miles of northern Alaska. His letter clarifies a voters' guide issued by the Fairbanks diocese that does not explicitly list abortion as the preeminent issue facing voters. A similar voters' guide released by the archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau came with no such instruction from the archbishop on the moral imperative to always oppose pro-abortion candidates, thus leaving the faithful with the impression that abortion is just one of many issues voters can consider when casting a ballot.
Zielinski, however, was crystal clear on this issue.
"As Catholics, then, we can never morally support or vote for candidates, laws or initiatives that will maintain or increase access to abortion, euthanasia or assisted suicide," he said. "Society proposes that we eliminate problems by eliminating people, but as Pope Francis affirmed in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 'It is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.'"
Zielinski addressed the common argument that many liberal Catholics such as Joe Biden use to justify support for political parties that favor abortion but also have a concern for the poor or the environment.
Joel Davidson of the Alaska Watchman explains how the archdiocesan voters' guide misleads voters
"What about candidates who support abortion rights but nonetheless also support life-affirming laws that help the poor or protect the environment?" Zielinski asked. "The Church is also clear on this issue: Catholics may not morally vote for a candidate who supports abortion just because they agree with the candidate on other less-important issues."
He said that the protection of life "must always take precedence when we are deciding who will best represent us."
Issues like the environment and social programs are areas where "people of goodwill can disagree" on the best way to proceed, according to the bishop.
"But some acts, such as taking human life through abortion, euthanasia or assisted suicide, are always objectively wrong no matter the circumstances and we can never support them as Catholics," Zielinski underscored.
Click here to read Zielinski's complete letter.
First published in the Alaska Watchman.