The line between promoting issues and promoting candidates

My church recently passed out a letter that had to do with clarifying how we, as Catholics, are supposed to vote in the upcoming election. It mentions no specific candidates, but makes it very clear that we are not supposed to vote for pro-choice candidates. Here’s some excerpts:

(by the way, all bolding and italicization is as it is in the letter, I am not adding anything to this)

I’ll skip ahead, but basically we have quotes from the Pope about how abortion is the taking of innocent life, how 48 million innocent lives have been ended through abortion since Roe vs. Wade, and now it is an intrinsically evil attack on life itself.

Essentially, all other issues are secondary in importance to abortion.

Now, here’s where we are told how to pick a candidate:

Now, I feel this letter manages to skirt the laws that prohibit churches from endorsing a candidate while keeping their tax-free status, but it seems to be worded specifically to make it clear that voting for a pro-choice candidate is to cooperate with evil, no matter how much the candidate’s other views are superior to his opponent. It’s pretty apparent that this letter is in response to some discussion at our church about whether Obama’s plans to provide health care to millions and end the war in Iraq outweigh his stance on abortion. War has been specifically outlined as a matter of “prudential judgment” and of lesser importance than the intrinsic evil of abortion. The argument that neither candidate has the power to overturn Roe v. Wade is nullified the pragmatists who want to support Obama by saying that voting for him is cooperation with intrinsic evil, regardless of the results.

This isn’t going to affect my vote, I guess I’m just a bad Catholic, but there has been a lot of discussion among people in my congregation about this and a lot of people were talking about going for Obama, and I’m afraid this is going to change their minds, and I feel this was the intention of the letter.

That letter misrepresents the views of the Catholic Church. The official view of the Church is that it is permissable for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports a grave evil (such as abortion), so long as that is not the reason the Catholic votes for that candidate. So, for instance, a Catholic who says “I’m voting for Obama because he’s pro-choice” is going against the teachings of the Church, but a Catholic who says “I’m voting for Obama because his policies help the poor”, or “I’m voting for Obama because he will work for peace in the world” is not going against the teachings of the Church

I wouldn’t belittle your religion so please don’t take this the wrong way.

theres a separation of church and state for a reason. I think its wrong for ANY church to try and influence your vote.

That was my understanding, as well as that of several other members of my congregation. We felt that we should vote for Obama because his platform, as a whole, fit better with our beliefs about treating all people as equal, providing care for the needy, and avoiding war. I’d say about 3/4 of the people in my church that I have heard discuss politics were leaning towards voting for Obama for these reasons. Obama does not seem to be pro-abortion, and though I am conflicted on the issue and on Roe v. Wade (I think that the constitution may grant privacy rights that restrict laws against abortion, though my heart feels it is wrong, I also feel it is wrong for guns to proliferate but it’s clear the constitution protects their ownership), I think Obama’s policies will probably reduce the number of abortions - but now we are told that if you have two candidates, one that is pro-choice and one who is not, we have to vote against the pro-choice one to avoid cooperation with evil, even if the one that is not pro-choice supports a much more evil agenda.