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Published October 23, 2012, 09:38 PM

State Senator accuses Catholic bishop of partisan politics

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A North Dakota State Senator is accusing a local Catholic Bishop of urging people to vote for specific candidates. Democrat Tim Mathern got a hold of a letter from the Bishop, asking parishioners to vote in a way that agrees with the Catholic church's teachings.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A North Dakota State Senator is accusing a local Catholic Bishop of urging people to vote for specific candidates. Democrat Tim Mathern got a hold of a letter from the Bishop, asking parishioners to vote in a way that agrees with the Catholic church's teachings.

Senator Mathern says it could violate the church's non-profit status.

The North Dakota Catholic Conference says the letter, written by Bishop David Kagan, will be read to all Roman Catholic parishioners this weekend.

Kagan is the apostolic administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Fargo.

The message in the letter is clear.

"A properly formed Catholic Conscious will NEVER contradict the church's teachings."

Those words directly in Bishop Kagan's letter, soon to be read to North Dakota Catholics.

It says "there are some actions that are NEVER acceptable,and should not be made so by law."

That includes hot button topics - like abortion, and gay marriage.

Tim Mathern/state senator: "that's bad for public policy - no opportunity for dialogue."

State Senator Tim Mathern says the letter crosses the line, risking the tax-exempt status of the church.

Mathern: "it is not supposed to engage in partisan politics.."

Bishop Kagan doesn't name candidates or parties directly. But he does say actions like abortion are quote "intrinsically evil," never to be supported. Kagan also says the "positions of the two political parties and the positions of their candidates are well known." And urges people " not to vote for the candidate who is most likeable."

Mathern: "republicans have been selling Heidi Heitkamp, on their website, as the most likeable candidate. This is Rick Berg's campaign." >

We contacted Bishop Kagan's office for an interview, and they say Kagan won't comment until after the letter is read. They did send us a statement.

It says the letter "merely shared the Catholic Doctrine on political responsibility, and does not mention candidates or tell parishioners how to vote.

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