Faithful Citizenship

Several years ago the Bishops of the United States issued a statement entitled:  “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.”     In that document they offered guidance to people in regard to voting and participating in the political process.   In paragraph 34 of that document they said:

“Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote.  This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods.  A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position.   In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil.  At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”

“It is clear that as Catholics we are called to incorporate our values and beliefs into the political process in a manner that reflects what best serves human life.   Unfortunately our beliefs are not represented 100% by either of the major political parties.  Neither party represents the entirety of our Catholic values and principles.  Given this, there may be times when as Catholics, while we reject a candidate’s unacceptable position in one area, may decide to vote for that candidate for other good and important reasons.”

The bishops were clear in regard to the above in paragraph 37 of their statement.   “In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.  These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.   In the end, this is a decision to be made by  each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”



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