June 12, 2014 — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday approved a voting guide that reaffirms the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion rights and support for religious exemptions to laws supporting same-sex marriage and access to contraception, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.
The guide, called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," is published during presidential election years to outline the church's positions on public policy issues.
According to AP/U-T San Diego, the guide has become a "point of contention" in the church over whether Catholic voters should prioritize social justice or abortion issues.
Pope Francis has suggested that the church's focus on divisive social issues, rather than calls for mercy and compassion, is driving people away. On Wednesday, the bishops incorporated some of Francis' teachings but made only "limited changes" overall.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who oversees the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, said, "The question of abortion will remain as very important," adding, "There are pillars to the house and it is one of the pillars" (Zoll, AP/U-T San Diego, 6/11).