You might be thinking, so what? Well there are about 66 million Catholics (24%) in the United States. Catholics are the largest religious denomination. There are more Protestants (52%) but Protestants are broken up into smaller denominations. Southern Baptists are the largest of the Protestant denominations and there are about 16 million of them. I've read that there are 40 million evangelical (Bible) Christians and I figure that the Baptists are part of that estimate. Catholic belief focuses on social justice issues just as much, if not more than pro-life issues. The right wing politicians have been courting the evangelicals and some US Bishops seem to be courting the right wing politicians if you've kept up with the news. You've read about some Bishops like Archbishop Burke and Bishop Sheridan who refuse to give communion to Kerry and any Catholics who support pro-choice politicians. This is NOT the official stand of the Catholic Church though.
The official Catholic stance is that it should be non-partisan when it comes to politics. It's also the law in the United States. The Vatican also knows and declares that communion should not be used as a sanction. American Bishops got together recently though and ended up agreeing to disagree however and decided that some Bishops will take a harsher stand in their diocese and tell their flock that they had better not vote for pro-choice politicians if they want to receive communion. If these Catholics are not made aware of the official Vatican stance, this could very well sway the vote towards Bush in those areas and this is a problem.. but then again, Catholics are not that stupid... I hope.
The official Vatican stance is that a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil only if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion. If a particular Catholic votes for a pro-choice democrat because this particular candidate is for universal health care, is anti-war, is for improving the schools and helping lift the poor out of oppression which are social issues that are in keeping with Christian values, then this is not against Church teaching at all. It's actually okay to Vote for Pro-Abortion Politician. Voting for Kerry in order to rid the United States of the evil Bush Administration is not against the Catholic Church. This proves that the Vatican is not stupid. The Pope knows that the Republicans pay lip service to the devoutly religious by being pro-life, anti-stem cell research and pro-family values while every single other issue is decidedly unChristian and possibly intrinsically evil.
The Catholic Church, or any church for that matter is not allowed to tell church goers who to vote for. It's illegal under IRS rules. (What 501(c)(3) Corporations can and cannot do in regard to political activity. very interesting.) Of course proclaiming that its church adherents must not vote for a pro-choice candidate leaves the members of the flock with only one choice since Democrats are the pro-choice party. This is a sneaky way of churchmen getting around the 501(c)(3) corporation restrictions.
Check this out from Nathan Newman, Senator Dick Durbin: Rating the Catholic Senators: "Kerry had the highest domestic rating of any Catholic Senator (95%)"
Here's the Catholic Bishops Faithful Citizenship Home Page.
Here's the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Home Page.