Courtesy of a priest friend of mine. He wrote the following in a FB status:This time of the year can become very intense for all of us as we prepare to participate in the upcoming 2012 elections. None of us want to be told how to vote. Voting is a very personal and thought provoking duty when it is taken seriously. For the most part, we want our vote to be private, and this is all good. However, sometimes we do not realize that voting h
as a great effect, not just on us personally, but on our city, country, and in some cases, the world. It is for this reason, voting should be taken most seriously. As Catholics, we have the obligation to form our consciences well and to study the issues at hand. Contrary to popular belief, conscience is not our opinion, nor our feelings or thoughts. Conscience is informing ourselves correctly about the issues at hand, and then making a right judgment based on what we know to be good and true. Conscience is our Catholic Faith working hand in hand with our reason, to make good moral judgments.
Many people request or even demand that the Catholic Church stay out of politics, calling it a third party, or saying the Church has no place in the political arena. Holy Mother Church teaches us that this thought or demand is totally contrary to who we are as Catholics. "Catholicism is not a political philosophy or program. The Catholic Church is not a “third party” that mixes some politically liberal positions with some politically conservative positions. Catholicism is, instead, a two-thousand year old religious bearing timeless truth. After twenty centuries, the Church has done much teach regarding the application of moral principles to political questions.” (Catholic Bishops of Kansas) So, why would we not embrace the Church’s teachings and apply them to the formation of our conscience and take our faith with us to the polls on November 6?
One of the most pressing things most Catholics are very confused about is why the Church asks you to focus on abortion, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide. We ask you to look at where candidates stand on these issues and if they promote them, we ask you not to vote for those candidates. Here is why: “This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, are examples of a ‘disqualifying issue.’ A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself, it renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters.” (Rev. Stephen F. Torraco, PH.D.) So, in essence, we are morally held accountable for the actions of a candidate we vote for that does take office. To put it bluntly, if a candidate condones and makes abortions, euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide more readily available, we too are accountable for those actions.
It is for these reasons that we take forming our conscience most seriously as Catholics; this is not just a matter of politics, or republican/democrat, liberal/conservative. This is a matter of the salvation of our souls. There are many different resources available out there to help us form our consciences. I have found two websites to recommend: www.catholicvote.org or www.focus.org/vote. In addition, you are welcome to pick up a copy of “A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters” at the bulletin stands in church. All of these tools are great ways to help us to form our consciences with regard to our civic duty to vote.
I want to leave you with two thoughts to think about when voting in the upcoming election: 1) No president of the United States of America has ever won the presidency without the Catholic vote, and 2) "There are sixty-seven million Catholics in America-that's at least fifteen million more people than it takes to elect an American president." (Matthew Kelly) Make sure to join with me in registering to vote and voting with a good conscience. May the Holy Spirit be our strength in forming and following a good conscience so that we might reach our eternal reward in heaven. –Father Daniel Duling, Associate Pastor