A quarter of America's bishops have said that the most important issue for voters in the forthcoming presidential election is abortion - comments that may help boost the fortunes of Republican candidate John McCain.
Some 50 out of the nation's 197 active bishops have published articles or given interviews during the run-up up to the election urging abortion as the key issue on which voters should decide which way to vote. [...]
Among the bishops who have intervened is Bishop Robert Hermann of St Louis who last Friday wrote: "the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue." His comment came in a column for the archdiocesan newspaper that appeared hours before Mr Obama addressed 100,000 people in the heavily Catholic city.
In Missouri - a normally Republican state where Mr Obama has taken a lead in the polls over recent weeks - Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St Joseph wrote in his diocesan newspaper that "despite hardship, beyond partisanship, for the sake of our eternal salvation", Catholic voters "should never" support a candidate who favours the continued legalisation of abortion.
In Colorado, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver made national headlines after calling Mr Obama "the most committed abortion-rights presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision". Later that same day, saying that he was speaking solely as a "private citizen", Archbishop Chaput told a dinner for a Catholic women's organisation in his archdiocese that the assertion by his Catholic supporters "that Senator Obama is this year's ‘real' pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse".
I'm glad my local bishop is one of the fifty. If yours isn't, perhaps a respectful letter to him on the subject before election day might be possible?
Like I said below, the attention the bishops are paying to the abortion issue this election is truly unprecedented. We should be deeply thankful as Catholics for this wise guidance, and pray for the continued leadership from our shepherds on this grave moral issue of our times.