While the Catholic Church does not tell the faithful whom to vote for, she offers us strong guidance on the truth and what candidates should and should not stand for. We need to become informed on the major issues of our day, learn how our Catholic principals apply and make good prudential choices on the application of these principals in public policy.
This fall’s presidential election offers a fairly stark contrast between the two major candidates on issues Catholics are obliged to consider. Candidates for other offices as well as various ballot initiatives may offer similar differences. We as Catholic voters need to understand what direction these candidates would take our country or locale. In September 2011, the US bishops re-released a 2007 document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. The men of FATHERS Team should leave the meeting knowledgeable in the issues outlined in this document’s introduction and be prepared to vote with fully formed consciences.
1. Deuteronomy 4: 1,2 and 7
Now therefore, Israel, hear the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am commanding you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it… For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?
2. Psalm 15: 1-2
One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue
3. James 1: 21
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.
1. Paragraph 1918
There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.
2. Paragraph 1923
Political authority must be exercised within the limits of the moral order and must guarantee the conditions for the exercise of freedom.
3. Paragraph 1894
In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.
Small Group Questions
- Do you understand the basis of the Bishops’ words on: life issues, religious liberty, the definition of marriage, the economy, immigration and war/violence?
- How well have your consciences been formed in prior election cycles? Are you open to hearing the guidance of the US Bishops, and putting party affiliation lower on your priority list?
- Are you willing to speak out loudly the principles outlined by the US Bishops?
John Fahrmeier and Jack Gauche
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops September 2011 statement
The moral and human challenges outlined in … Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship remain pressing national issues. In particular, our Conference is focused on several current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions:
Continuing destruction of unborn children through abortion and other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick, or unwanted;
Renewed efforts to force Catholic ministries—in health care, education, and social services—to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need;
Intensifying efforts to redefine marriage and enact measures which undermine marriage as the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one woman and a fundamental moral and social institution essential to the common good;
An economic crisis which has devastated lives and livelihoods, increasing national and global unemployment, poverty, and hunger; increasing deficits and debt and the duty to respond in ways which protect those who are poor and vulnerable as well as future generations;
The failure to repair a broken immigration system with comprehensive measures that promote true respect for law, protect the human rights and dignity of immigrants and refugees, recognize their contributions to our nation, keep families together, and advance the common good;
Wars, terror, and violence which raise serious moral questions on the use of force and its human and moral costs in a dangerous world, particularly the absence of justice, security, and peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.
In this coming election and beyond, we urge leaders and all Catholics to share the message of faithful citizenship and to use this document in forming their own consciences, so we can act together to promote and protect human life and dignity, marriage and family, justice and peace in service to the common good. This kind of political responsibility is a requirement of our faith and our duty as citizens.