Florida Catholics Conference urges voting ‘with an informed conscience’

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In its carefully nuanced voters guide, the Florida Catholic Conference is urging the state’s 2.5 million Catholics “to vote with an informed conscience.”

The state’s eight bishops do not endorse candidates but they offer their responses to an array of questions. The bishops also include a statement about the areas of Amendment 2 that they find problematic. They apparently had no issues with the other amendments.

While acknowledging that medical marijuana can be beneficial to some, the amendment has the potential for fraud and abuse, doesn’t assure the quality of the products and allows greater access to the drug by young people.

They urge Catholic voters “to carefully assess the risks” of further legalizing medical marijuana.

The voter guide includes the responses of some of the candidates to a questionnaire on key Catholic issues. Abortion funding and gay marriage are obvious issues for Catholics but the Florida bishops are especially interested in funding for private education for the state’s 85,000 Catholic school students.

Congressional candidates were asked their views on:

  • Abortion funding ban
  • Comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship
  • Educational assistance for children in private schools
  • Reduction of carbon pollution
  • Religious freedom in health care coverage
  • Barring federal discrimination for the church not recognizing gay marriage
  • Expanding federal humanitarian assistance overseas
  • Providing adequate assistance to the poor

Candidates in statewide races were asked their positions on:

  • A 24-hour waiting period before an abortion
  • Using state and federal funds to decrease the percentage of uninsured Floridians by at least 50 percent.
  • Restoring funding for the VPK programs
  • Allowing individuals and organizations the freedom to serve the public in accord with moral or religious beliefs concerning the sanctity of life and marriage
  • Establishing a minimum age at which a child can be tried as an adult
  • Allowing parents to designate an approved percentage of the state’s per-pupil funding for each school-age child that can go toward tutoring, dual enrollment, prepaid college, virtual schooling and nonpublic school tuition.
  • Requiring a unanimous recommendation by a jury for the death sentence
  • Preserving the opportunity for local governments to establish mechanisms to resolve wage theft disputes.

While the questionnaires are meant to help guide voters in their choices, many candidates, including Charlie Crist, chose not to respond.

The bishops are urging that the information be inserted in the Sunday bulletins of its 500 parishes and missions.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.