Baltimore Roman Catholic voters and lawmakers must heed church teaching on issues ranging from racism to abortion or risk their eternal salvation, U.S. bishops said Wednesday.
The bishops didn't recommend specific policies or candidates in the 2008 election, and emphasized that "principled debate" is needed to decide what best promotes the common good. But they warned Catholics that their votes for politicians and laws affect more than just civic life.
"Political choices faced by citizens have an impact on general peace and prosperity and also may affect the individual's salvation," the bishops said. "Similarly, the kinds of laws and policies supported by public officials affect their spiritual well-being."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly adopted the statement, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," as they ended the public session of their fall meeting.
They have offered similar guidance to Catholics before every presidential race since 1976.