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US bishops wary of Arnie's election-time profession of faith

The Bishops of the United States yesterday issued a statement warning against exploitation by political candidates which could have been applied to Arnold Schwarzenegger's claim to be Catholic only hours before winning last week's recall election to become Governor of California.

The Austrian born former Mr Universe told US TV viewers about the positive impact his Catholicism has had on his life.

"I'm Catholic. Yes, absolutely," he said. "I grew up as a Catholic, and my mother was the one that was the spiritual leader in our house, so she took us. It was not even an option. So that's the way I grew up, and I'm a spiritual person. I pray and I communicate with God."

However, some Church groups have criticised Schwarzenegger for failing to clarify his position on pro-life and other issues.

There was no reference to Schwarzenegger in yesterday's document from the Bishops, but they warned against "photo ops" and other forms of exploitation that masked policy that was either hostile to the Church or vacuous.

The document, which was timed to influence campaigning for the 2004 Presidential Elections, stressed that the Church should be engaging with politicians who have done the hard work on policy that reflects Catholic values.

"As bishops, we do not wish to instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates," it said. "We hope that voters will examine the position of candidates on a full range of issues, as well as on their personal integrity, philosophy and performance."

The Universe
Catholic News Service

US Conference of Catholic Bishops | Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility
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14 Oct 2003