In 2002, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." The note, approved and published by Pope John Paul II, reiterated that Catholic lawmakers have a "grave and clear obligation" to oppose legalized abortion and other attacks on the right to life. Indeed, here the church said it was "impossible" for a Catholic to promote such laws.
“At the same time, legislative proposals are put forward which, heedless of the consequences for the existence and future of human beings with regard to the formation of culture and social behaviour, attack the very inviolability of human life," said this statement of Catholic teaching.
"Catholics, in this difficult situation, have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote. "John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a «grave and clear obligation to oppose» any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them."
Cardinal Ratzinger also said in this official Vatican statement that Catholics have a similar inalterable duty to defend the rights of human embryos and the institution of marriage.
“When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility," said the doctrinal note. "In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands,Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person. This is the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia (not to be confused with the decision to forgo extraordinary treatments, which is morally legitimate). Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death.In the same way, it is necessary to recall the duty to respect and protect the rights of the human embryo.
"Analogously," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger, "the family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability in the face of modern laws on divorce: in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.”
Raddatz then phrased her question on abortion as if the position these candidates took on the question of whether it ought to be legal to take the life of an unborn child was essentially a denominational and emotional matter, rather than one of rationally applying the immutable natural law--which is expressly referenced in the non-denominational Declaration of Independence signed by the Founding Fathers of this nation--to the question of whether an unborn has the same inalienable right to life as a born child.
"This debate is indeed historic," said Raddatz. "We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that? And please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country, please talk personally about this if you could?"