WASHINGTON (CNS) — Seventy Catholic women, including the presidents of two leading Catholic organizations, expressed concern for the “toxic politics of fear” that has dominated this year’s presidential campaign.

Saying that “elections should be a national examination of conscience,” the signers of the statement called for civil debate in the final weeks of the campaign leading to Election Day Nov. 8.

Signers included Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA, and Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president and CEO of Catholic Health Association.

Others signing the letter were Helen Alvare, professor of law at George Mason University; Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International; Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University; Helen Osman, former secretary of communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Dolores Leckey, founding executive director of the Secretariat for Family, Women, Laity and Youth at the USCCB.

Titled “Catholic Women and Mothers for the Common Good,” the statement noted that democracy remains healthy through civic debate and that “neither party has a monopoly on wisdom or effective policies.”

“At a time when nearly one in five children grows up poor, thousands of migrant children are torn from their parents, and when so many families are excluded from economic opportunity, the urgency of our collective task is bigger than our partisan preferences or personal ideologies,” the Oct. 24 statement said.

The signers maintain in the statement that Catholic social teaching “does not fit neatly into partisan boxes.”

“Our faith calls us to affirm the sacred dignity of all life. This is why our church defends life in the womb, the undocumented immigrant and the inmate on death row. As Pope Francis reminds us, we must also say no to an ‘economy of exclusion and inequality’ that ‘kills,’ and act to address environmental devastation that is disproportionately hurting the poor.”

The statement also urged the presidential candidates as well as others seeking public office nationwide “to recognize that ‘family values’ isn’t simply a buzzword on the campaign trail.” It pointed to the importance of upholding the dignity of families, which “requires rejecting a consumer culture where sex is viewed as a commodity; a commitment to ensuring mothers and fathers have access to paid parental leave; quality, affordable child care; jobs that pay living wages; and a human immigration system that keeps families together.”

The statement was to be published as advertisements in three Catholic publications, including Our Sunday Visitor Oct. 30, National Catholic Reporter Nov. 4 and America magazine Nov. 7.

***

The full text of the statement can be found online here