This morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer features a lengthy story on “the Catholic vote” from ace reporter Dan Horn. His section on Archbishop Schnurr and the opposition to “intrinsically evil actions” is excellent, and quotes directly from His Excellency’s recent letter on Catholic priorities in the public square:

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Diocese of Covington offer weekly “prayers for religious liberty.” They also have urged the faithful to write the White House and other elected officials to complain about the insurance mandate.

The challenge for the bishops is to advocate for their cause without endorsing a candidate or party, which would violate the church’s teachings and jeopardize its tax status as a charitable religious organization.

But stopping short of an endorsement isn’t easy when one candidate, Obama, clearly supports the health reform law and the other, Romney, clearly opposes it.

Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr offers no blessing or endorsement in a letter he’s sending to Catholics later this month. He does, however, say actions that threaten traditional marriage and religious liberty are “intrinsic evils.”

The implication for Catholics is that support for gay marriage and the health insurance mandate, which the church considers a threat to religious liberty, would amount to supporting an act of evil akin to abortion.

The choice of words is important because intrinsic evils must always be opposed, while decisions about how best to prevent war or poverty can be left to an individual’s “prudential judgment.”

“Opposing intrinsically evil actions that directly threaten the sanctity and dignity of life should have a special claim on our conscience as we choose between candidates who do not promote all of Catholic Social Teaching,” Schnurr wrote.

He does not tell Catholics to vote based on a single issue, but he does make clear that some issues, such as the health insurance mandate and gay marriage, are more important than others.

“What the church tries to do is give guidance to people and tell them this is what the church teaches,” said archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.

The story ends with an obligatory and predictably misleading comment from the partisan malcontent who runs the archdiocesan Catholic Social Action office. The Church does not care “only that the faithful are getting involved” in the political process; the point of his boss’s letter is that some issues deserve more attention and involvement than others, i.e., that they have a “special claim” on our conscience.

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