Catholics in the United States when it comes to voting compose the largest group among all religious denominations. Collectively, Catholics can influence the direction of elections in favor of politicians that embrace political and social platforms that are compatible with Catholic teachings. What this means for the most part is this, Catholics are not the minority when it comes to the political arena and the sheer mass of the Catholic vote, properly informed can determine more than political issues that affect millions of the faithful.

While the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of all human life receives most of the publicity when one thinks of the Catholic Church. However, the Catholic Church is a formidable advocate on many other concerns that effect American Catholics and all Americans daily. Issues of social justice, such as the eradication of poverty, companies providing a just wage to their employees and the rights of the worker are concerns the Catholic Church actively mediates. The Church actively works in American society to develop programs for education, care for the elderly and the rights of the poor. All these things and many other topics are a cross section representation of the Church’s social obligations in the United States. Therefore, it is a moral and ethical obligation for all Catholics to vote in elections

Voting is part of our American freedoms as citizens of our democratic republic. Where Catholics are concerned, the power of the ballot box provides the opportunity to determine through the electoral process that politicians are elected that are representative of the Church’s best interests and reflective of the overall common good for all of America’s citizens. Catholic voters should consider voting as something which is not just a responsibility but a fulfillment of our obligations as citizens. Citizenship has obligations, and perhaps the most valuable condition of American citizenship is the enlightened responsibility to vote for politicians that in some manner uphold the precepts that are compatible with Catholic teaching. While there is a clear delineation of Church and State in our country, the lines are not always definitive. Morality and ethics are good examples of how Catholics can influence the voting process. Objectively, Catholic voters should endorse and hopefully elect politicians that share the same concerns for the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of all human life and above all a favorable position towards religious tolerance. While many politicians in the arena today consider themselves as promoting the common good, Catholic voters need to ask, where do they stand on issues regarding the right to life. A pro-choice candidate does not reflect Catholic teachings on the dignity of the human person and the right to life therefore Catholics should not vote for such a candidate.

One needs to realize that Catholicism is compatible with the precepts of politics and government because the Church is the advocate for the common good of all citizens in society. The common good, the underlying principle of Catholic teachings are intrinsically the same as those advocated in our American government as well. Religion and politics are delineated acutely but share compatible goals and objectives. Catholics when they vote always need to be concerned about electing candidates for public office that demonstrably value the principles of equality among all peoples and most importantly maintain a healthy respect for the dignity of all human life in all stages.

While one would expect that the American Bishops would do more to educate the faithful regarding the proper way to discern political candidates and evaluate issues of politics, they are remarkably silent. There is a pastoral statement on the website of the USCCB, which focuses on Catholics in Political Life which provides direction for Catholic voters and issues they need to consider when voting.

Catholic voters need to cultivate a deeper understanding of the integration of the Catholic faith with the nuances of American political life. A Catholic voter most importantly needs to vote with one’s conscience when making political determinations that effect their lives as both citizens and Catholics.

It is often said by political observers that the mid-term elections which are happening today are those with the least voter turnout. While that may be accurate, Catholic voters need to develop a sense of personal urgency regarding the privilege of casting a vote which is incumbent to American citizens. Voting is an obligation to citizens and Catholic voters should turn out and exercise their rights to elect our government officials.  There is a dualism that exists with the Catholic voter and that is namely the relationship of the Catholic faith with the politics of the secular world. Both aspects are intrinsically part of Catholic voters and one indeed should compliment each other, guided by the human conscience.

The human conscience is the inner voice of God within us that dictates the rightfulness or wrongness of all human acts. If one’s conscience is correctly formed, moral norms are concurrent with the Church’s teachings and all activities emanate from the Catholic voter’s well-formed conscience.

Regardless of political affiliations, Catholic voters need to make sure their choices in elections are politicians that are in alignment with their personal consciences and the confines of the Catholic faith. First and foremost, Catholic voters are encouraged to vote as part of their civic obligations and responsibilities as good citizens. Just as important, Catholic voters should seriously consider implications of voting and how it correctly corresponds to one’s spiritual commitments as Catholics. Candidates that promote programs that are not in alignment with the Church’s teachings should not be the electoral choice for Catholics. Discernment on the part of the Catholic voter is always recommended and ultimately Catholic voters need to vote with their consciences as the guiding force in casting their votes.

Finally, Catholics are bound to the obligations of the faith and to the obligations of their civic duties as responsible citizens of the United States. Both obligations as a Catholic and as a citizen are and should be compatible with each other. Prayerfully reflect on the obligations as an American when considering casting your vote for a candidate. Finally ask the question, “Is this the best candidate for me to consider based on my beliefs as a Catholic?” When one faithfully answers this question and there are no personal conflicts with one’s conscience, vote!

The Catholic voter is responsible to both religious and civic obligations. Vote with your conscience and not against it. When all the ballots are counted, the Catholic voter with a well-formed conscience can settle back and say they are faithful to both God and Country.

 

 

 

 

 

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