It has been difficult for Catholics in the United States to keep track of the social teaching of their faith via the proclamations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which are often more confusing than clarifying.
This is why individual study is so important--relying on the Holy Father and the Catechism--as this 2008 article from the New Oxford Review noted.
Pray for the Holy Father, our bishops, priests, and nuns, always.
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a new document on November 14, 2007, to guide Catholic voters in the upcoming elections. It is titled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States" -- and if you think the title is long, wait till you get a load of the full text. It has 90 sections, runs 43 pages long, and is exceedingly wordy and verbose (the bane of editors!). As can be expected from a document approved by the full body of the USCCB -- liberals, moderates, and conservatives -- by a margin of 221-4, it runs all over the map, touches on myriad topics, and suffers from information overload -- no easy accomplishment in our information era.
“What makes this document so maddening is that it buries the burning political issues of the day under an avalanche of lesser considerations. The bishops say, "Intrinsically evil actions...must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia" (#22). So far, so good. And then, "Human cloning and destructive research on human embryos are also intrinsically evil" (#23). O.K., fine. But then the bishops say, "Other direct assaults on innocent human life and violations of human dignity such as genocide, torture, racism and the targeting of non-combatants in acts of terror or war can never be justified" (#23). Wait a minute -- are the bishops saying that racism is an intrinsic evil?
“Now, the NOR is opposed to racism, but it cannot be put on a par with intrinsically evil acts such as abortion and targeting of non-combatants, which are murder. Nowhere does the Catechism call racism an intrinsic evil.
“Elsewhere, the bishops say, "Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes...a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues..." (#29). Racism, immigration policy, and lack of health care are serious issues, but they are not on the same immoral plane as the death penalty, unjust war, and war crimes, which involve the direct taking of life. The bishops' inclusion of racism only serves to dilute the moral imperative to defend human life.
“The bishops even go so far as to say, "A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or racism..." (#34). Now the bishops are drawing an equivalence between abortion, the violation of the fundamental right to life that has resulted in over 50 million abortions in the U.S. since 1973, and racism, a term they neglect to define and which really isn't a major theme in this election.”