Our election season is upon us, and Catholics are urged to embrace the opportunity to vote. Pope Francis has addressed the issue of voting. He stated, “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued and updated a document called, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” The bishops have encouraged us to take our voting obligation seriously. They said, “We bishops seek to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with the truth, so they can make sound moral choices. We do not tell Catholics how to vote. The responsibility to make political choices rests with each person and his or her conscience.”
The bishops have stated that “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group. In today’s environment, Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and few candidates fully share our comprehensive commitment to human life and dignity.”
At their meeting earlier this year, the bishops affirmed the fundamental dignity of the human person. They stated that human life is sacred and that intrinsically evil actions such as abortion and euthanasia must always be opposed. The gift of life is the foundation upon which rests all the other marvelous gifts that God has given us. We are challenged to prayerfully consider the guidance of our bishops as we form our consciences.
To this end, we plan to conduct a series of conferences on “Catholic Morality and Voting” to be coordinated by Deacon Henry Hein. The focus will be on the review of the document
“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”
Topics will include the following seven key themes of Catholic social teaching which provide a moral framework for decisions in public life:
- The Right to Life and the Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family, Community, and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- Caring for God’s Creation
Details concerning the conferences will be forthcoming.
As we know, we live in an imperfect world and we are dealing with imperfect candidates. Our bishops invite us to properly form our consciences and to vote for those candidates whose views we believe best reflect Catholic teaching. We invite you to participate in our conferences and respond to the call of our bishops to embrace our moral obligation to engage in our political process.