Bishops’ guidance helps in U.S. referenda

November 15, 2010

In a year when tax and budget issues dominated the ballot questions before U.S. voters, Catholic leaders offered the guidance of Catholic social teaching but generally remained neutral on specific referendum topics.

In states where the Catholic bishops took a strong stand on a ballot measure, however, voters seemed to generally follow the bishops’ advice.

Fifty-four per cent of California voters rejected a move to make the state the first in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Arizona and Colorado, the Catholic bishops had opposed a wide range of fiscal measures that they said could harm the state’s poorest citizens by cutting taxes or limiting the state’s ability to raise revenues.

The proposals were rejected by solid margins. In Massachusetts, the bishops urged a “no” vote on an initiative to repeal a state law promoting the building of low-income housing.

The initiative failed. The only abortion-related question on the Nov. 2 ballot was in Colorado, where voters rejected a proposed amendment that would have defined a human being from the moment of fertilization as a person.