Far-Right Catholics Outline Agenda In New Document

A group of ultra-conservative Roman Catholics gathered in Phoenix in October to release a new document demanding that U.S. church members vote only for candidates who agree with the hierarchy’s views on abortion, marriage and other social issues.

The organization, called the Catholic Leadership Conference, drew more than 100 attendees from 22 states, as well as Canada, the Virgin Islands and Austria, according to a report issued by conservative Catholic activist Deal W. Hudson.

Hudson reported that among those attending were Karl Keating, president of Catholic Answers; Judie Brown, president of the American Life League; the Rev. Terence Henry, president of Fran­cis­can University; and Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan.

Participants released a “Statement on Political Action” that reads in part, “The first obligation of government is the protection of innocent human life from conception to natural death” and calls on Catholic voters to “first make decisions about their votes based on the moral issues that are non-negotiable. First among these are the life issues.”

The document goes on to imply that Catholic moral teaching should be binding on all of society “and not be artificially limited to the private domain of individual belief.” Catholic clergy, it asserts, are to “instruct and remind voters, candidates and public officials of the moral obligations and social principles that should guide their political action.”

Participants also released a statement on marriage that criticized same-sex unions. It was drafted by Maggie Galla­gher, a freelance columnist and president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

Gallagher, who frequently writes about the Bush administration’s marriage-related initiatives, was criticized in 2002 for accepting $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the Bush approach.

After accepting the payment, Gal­lagher wrote a column asserting, “The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples” and “educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage.”