Key Maryland Election Issues 2014


Public Policy Positions of the Catholic Church

The Church and the Public Square

The sacredness of life and the value of human dignity form the lens through which the Church views every public policy issue, whether it involves poverty, abortion, education, the family, immigration or any other topic. Whether we are Democrat or Republican, conservative, liberal or in between, our Catholic faith should be the first and most important influence on how we think about political issues. To help Catholics understand these issues, the Maryland Catholic Conference has provided below a brief summary of policies addressed by the Church in the Public Square.

2014 Elections

Much is at stake in the upcoming June 24 primary election in Maryland, in which candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, governor, and the Maryland General Assembly will be vying for your vote. All 188 seats in the General Assembly are up for election and more than 50 seats have been vacated by incumbents, providing an unprecedented opportunity to elect new candidates to the legislature.

During their upcoming terms, the men and women selected to represent your interests will decide many issues affecting the values the Church promotes in the public square, including the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, and the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society. Your vote, especially in the primary election when turnout often is low, can make a critical difference in who speaks for you in Congress and Annapolis. Make sure you know the issues, and where your candidates stand on matters that are important to your faith. As Pope Francis reminds us, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.”

Respect for Life

ABORTION. There is an urgent need to pass legislation in Maryland that protects unborn life, and that supports women facing crisis pregnancies. Maryland is home to one of the most permissive abortion laws in the country and has some of the highest abortion rates in the nation. Maryland is one of only four states and the District of Columbia that voluntarily fund elective abortions. Maryland has no parental consent law, no meaningful parental notification law, no informed consent law, no mandatory waiting period, no abortion reporting requirement, and no ban on late-term abortion.

STEM CELLS. The killing of human embryos in embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) – no matter how good the intention– is still the destruction of human life and
has not led to human cures. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people have been treated with adult stem cells, which carry no ethical concerns. Yet Maryland largely ignores successful, ethical adult stem cell research and has spent more than $100 million on ESCR through the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.

END-OF-LIFE. Forces in modern culture promoting physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia seek to devalue the lives of the sick, the elderly, and the disabled under the guise of “choice.” Such measures not only discriminate by implying
certain persons’ lives are not worth living, but
threaten the very
premise that every
life is a gift from
God, worthy of our protection.

Pope Francis has called on us to “challenge all forms of injustice,” including, “the throwaway culture and the culture of death that nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.” Patients who are elderly, terminally ill, or medically fragile deserve the comforting care of loved ones and medical treatment that alleviates pain and suffering – not a prescription to commit suicide.

Education & Family Life

EDUCATION. Catholic schools are an integral part of Maryland’s educational landscape. Pope Francis has stated that “Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture.” (Evangelii Gaudium) In addition to their commitment to moral formation and community service, Catholic schools also are a fiscally valuable resource for our state. Nearly 50,000 students attend Maryland’s Catholic schools, saving the state and its taxpayers approximately $700 million every year.

While Maryland provides some support to nonpublic school students through textbook and aging school construction programs, neighboring states routinely provide their private and parochial schools hundreds of millions of dollars more in support, including through business or individual tax credits which encourage investment in education. The U.S. bishops have reminded us that the “entire Catholic community should be encouraged to advocate for parental school choice and personal and corporate tax credits, which will help parents to fulfill their responsibility in educating their children.” (Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, 2005)

The family is important, and it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Without the family, the cultural survival of the human race would be at risk. The family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.

Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013

FAMILY LIFE. The Church upholds marriage as the union between one man and one woman and recognizes the family unit of mother, father and child as the foundation of society. The Church promotes government policies that advance stable families and their ability to provide adequate food, housing, and other basic necessities

for their children. Employment policies should provide adequate maternity leave and sufficient sick leave to allow parents to care for their own health or that of another family member.

Social Concerns

Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid.

—    Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel),

—       Apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis

POVERTY. Although Maryland has one of the highest rates of per capita income in the country, 13.8 percent
of Maryland’s children were living in poverty according to the 2012 American Community Survey. In order to address the pressing needs of the vulnerable, the Church encourages public policies and budget priorities that support those who often struggle through no fault of their own to maintain the basic necessities of life.

HEALTH CARE. For decades the Catholic Church has been a leading voice for universal health care access, and for health care policies that include adequate conscience protections. A person’s right to health care is based on the principle that each life has value and each life is sacred. We must provide health care for some of our most vulnerable populations, including the working poor, immigrants, persons with disabilities and the homeless.

EMPLOYMENT. The Church promotes policies that support the dignity of work, a healthy work environment, and the ability of each individual to have access to employment. “As the state’s largest private social service provider, we witness in our Catholic ministries the painful reality of those who struggle to keep up with the basic costs of food, rent, utilities and transportation. This desperate cycle cannot end unless we as a society find a way to give all capable men and women the chance to work at a job through which they can live with true independence and dignity.” (The Dignity of Work, Maryland Bishops, 2014)

IMMIGRATION. The Catholic Church supports immigration policies that uphold the moral duty to recognize documented and undocumented immigrants as truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. Immigration policies must keep families unified and protect national borders. Recent attempts to locally implement the federal responsibility of immigration enforcement raise numerous concerns including possible safety issues for immigrants too afraid to contact police. As we pray during Mass, many of us may look and realize – new immigrants are our family.

From the Maryland Catholic Conference