Catholics make up 18% of Ohioans and are considered a key voting bloc as citizens in the Buckeye State determine the fate of Issue 1, a proposal to increase the threshold to amend the Ohio constitution.
The Catholic bishops of Ohio weighed in recently on the August 8 ballot proposal.
“The Bishops of Ohio do not have a position on Issue 1 as it does not have moral content,” the Catholic Conference of Ohio said in a statement.
Pro-life activists noted however that while the August 8 ballot measure could be called morally neutral in a vacuum, it has high moral stakes in light of a Democrat-backed November ballot measure to amend Ohio’s constitution in favor of abortion.
“In the full context, the Issue 1 vote will have huge moral consequences. Outside forces are hoping to kill unborn children by passing a radical pro-abortion amendment to the Ohio constitution this November,” said Joshua Mercer, vice president of CatholicVote. “To protect the unborn, Catholics need to vote yes on Issue 1 this August to strengthen the Ohio constitution and to prevent outside groups from hijacking their constitution.”
With the pro-abortion ballot proposal now confirmed for the November ballot, CatholicVote reached out to each diocese in Ohio for a comment on Issue 1.
The Steubenville Register, a publication of the Diocese of Steubenville, published an article that addressed both the August and November elections. Diocesan employee Joseph Schmidt authored the article.
The article urged readers to “vote ‘No’ in November and encourage others to do the same.” Schmidt’s comments on August’s Issue 1 vote, however, are much milder. “This election is not as cut-and-dry as the choice in November,” he suggests. “It is a more nuanced question that requires discernment. However, the outcome of the August election may have a direct impact on the November election.”
“The Ohio Catholic Bishops have decided to remain neutral on this proposal since it is a procedural question – a question of prudential judgment – and not a moral question,” he added.
The Diocese of Toledo formally agrees with the Catholic Conference of Ohio, however, they sent a letter to the parish priests with more specific directions.
“Parishes are welcome to encourage their parishioners, in whatever manner you deem appropriate, to vote ‘yes’ in support of the proposed change to the Constitution,” the Diocese stated:
A 60 percent majority would more accurately reflect the will of the people rather than a simple majority. Keeping in mind that one of the direct consequences of the August Special Election vote will be the possibility of abortion and the removal of parental rights being enshrined into Ohio law.
The Dioceses of Youngstown and Cleveland declined to make any statement specific to their diocese and referred CatholicVote to their alignment with the Catholic Conference of Ohio’s statement.
“The Catholic Conference of Ohio, in collaboration with the Ohio dioceses, encouraged and equipped parishes to hold non-partisan voter registration drives and emphasize the importance of voting in the special election as an act of faithful citizenship,” said Michelle Duffey, associate director for communications and outreach for the Catholic Conference of Ohio.
At the time of publication, neither the Archdiocese of Cincinnati nor the Diocese of Columbus have responded to CatholicVote’s inquiries.