Today, I learned of this article at the Huffington Post with the blaring headline:
North Dakota Senate Race: Bismarck Bishop David Kagan Said To Write Letter To Influence Voters
If you read the article you’ll find it detailing Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan’s embargoed letter to the faithful of his diocese instructing them to vote according to their well-formed consciences. Bishop Kagan is also currently serving as apostolic administrator of Fargo. The HuffPo piece details a few snippets of the letter but Bishop Kagan’s entire letter (with some emphasis added that was not the Bishop’s) is reproduced in full in a media advisory released by North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern. Out of respect for the Bishop’s embargo of the letter I am deliberately choosing not to reproduce or link to the letter here.
If you take the time to read the version of the letter as it stands in Senator Mathern’s advisory (and remembering that the Bishop’s actual letter remains embargoed), you will find a spiritual shepherd instructing his flock. The letter opens with a Year of Faith reminder to participate in our civic duty to vote with informed consciences. It quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church and closes with a quote from Blessed John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici. The letter does not name political candidates by name, but addresses life issues which are of vital import to Catholics.
Given my desire to respect Bishop Kagan’s embargo, I am not going to reprint the letter here. I also hope that all of you will join me in praying for him and for the faithful across the Dioceses of Bismarck and Fargo. But truly, we all need to be praying at this time, and informing ourselves as we prepare to make important electoral decisions. I do also want to point you to this video distributed by the diocese about a week ago which answers the idea of legislators being “personally opposed” but not wishing to impose their beliefs on others. Bishop Kagan’s comments are clearly directed to enlighten the faithful:
In closing, I thought I’d ask if YOUR diocese has given any written or verbal directives with respect to the elections. Do you welcome such directives and will they make any difference to you when you vote this year?