The primary races continue on Tuesday in the United States with the partisan conventions as the finish line. The entire primary process has quite honestly been one of contentious struggle for voters that are politically sitting on the fence. In terms of a Catholic candidate, none of the frontrunners offers a strong predication that favors Catholic moral and social teachings.

Senator Obama has a marked record that is contrary to the Catholic prolife movement and has further raised Catholic ire with his Catholic contrary stance on homosexual marriage. Senator McCain in the same fashion needs to more strongly identify his prolife support and develop an understanding of the Catholic just war theory in order to rationalize our Gulf War presence.

Regardless of which candidate reaches the Oval Office in November, we Catholics are presented with two less than morally optimal political choices. In the spirit of true Thomistic philosophy, the choice that identifies itself as the lesser of the two evils should be the Catholic moral choice at the voter’s box. However, we really need to consider the Catholic alternative in voting for our candidates. The Catholic alternative would be to correctly vote for an individual that properly disposes and teaches the Catholic perspective on the political issues. In our multicultural and sectarian world of American politics, Catholics cannot assume the luxury of inactivity in the political arena. While the American Catholic bishops cannot and more precisely should not provide any specific endorsement of a party or candidate, they should offer authoritarian guidance in this political and moral minefield of election 2008.

Strictly speaking, any candidate that publically maintains a perspective contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters of moral propriety should obviously not receive the Catholic vote. However, as in all real life issues the matter is not so obviously black and white. Each candidate offers some degree of consistency that adheres to Catholic teachings, while each strategically walks a small margin of erroneous practices and thought that should signal an alert to sensitive Catholic voters. The concept of the lesser of the two evils does not always provide a correct alternative course for Catholic judgment. Of course, that is where the correct disposition of the Catholic conscience comes into this important participation. Properly formed the Catholic conscience relies upon the integration of Catholic social and moral principles in light of natural and divine law to assist Catholics to make a proper decision.

Careful care, consideration and most especially prayer are necessary for Catholics to integrate with their political freedom of the ballot. Overall, Catholic voters must pay particular attention to issues that effect human rights and dignities on a larger perspective than just political affiliation. The informed Catholic voter needs to consider the effects any electoral majority will have on the development of our Catholic moral, ethical and social principles over the next four years and indeed in the 21st century. The dualism of our Catholic identity demands not only appropriate Catholic social stewardship in choosing our political and social leaders. It also demands a precise adherence to the consistent teachings of the New Testament in light of our Catholic traditions and heritage.

In this light, Catholics that might have some dilemma in deciding their political vote in 2008 should always maintain a perspective of Jesus’ actions and teachings in the Gospels. In the same manner, the moral illumination offered by two millennia of Catholic morality and social integration should clearly resonate with Catholic voters. Our Catholic practices and beliefs are the integration of right reason with natural and divine law. If any direction is needed for political judgment, as Catholics we need to rely exclusively on our Catholic moral and ethical teachings that are rooted in the law of love as proclaimed by Jesus.
While no one particular person or party or for that matter religious sentiment has the right to interfere with our electoral choices, we do have a higher Catholic directive. That directive calls each of us to provide as best we are capable, as part of our Baptismal promises to demonstrate and life Catholic concepts of moral propriety in our daily human lives. Hopefully in the choices we make as human beings freely given by God a free will, we will use that rational will to reflect our Catholic foundational message and always vote with the motivation of Divine law and not secular partisanship.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic matters. He writes daily @  

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