Sunday July 31, 2016
Jul 28, 2016
As we prepare for the elections this November I will share with you some thoughts from a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Today my reflections are from a document entitled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” which is part of their larger document entitled "Call to Political Responsibility" which was originally issued some 20 years ago. This is an ever involving and living document which most recently was updated and approved by the full body of bishops at its November 2015 General Meeting.
The Introductory Note states: “The Catholic Bishops of the United States are pleased to offer once again to the Catholic faithful Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, our teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics. This statement represents our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. We urge our pastors, lay and religious faithful, and all people of goodwill to use this statement to help form their consciences; to teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue; and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching."
Abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia are all serious immoral issues. This is not a complete list and it is not meant to be, there are certainly other issues which are on the list of the seriously immoral. Are solutions political? Yes, but the politics of them must be influenced by our well developed Catholic/Christian conscience and we must voice our conscience in our democratic system. All the issues I mentioned above can be made illegal by our Congress and the Supreme Court in the future, but only if appropriate judges are nominated by our Presidents and approved by our Senators.
It is easy to say that as citizens of the United States we should support and vote for Pro-Life candidates and as a result appropriate Supreme Court Justices will be appointed to the US Supreme Court. Living this ideal out, is less than easy, finding a pure Pro-Life candidate is next to impossible when you consider all the other qualifications needed, such as knowledge of foreign relations, environmental concerns, education and the list goes on and on. But this does not excuse us from supporting, the best we can, the candidates that value the sacredness of life. Of course you also have to take into consideration what a party's platform states and what will really happen maybe vastly different.
According to “Pew Research Center” Catholics make up approximately 25% of the National Electorate, we are a significant part of the eligible voting population. "Pew" also reports in 2012, 50% of Catholics who voted for President voted for a pro-choice candidate; in past elections the percentages were 2000 50%; 2004 47%, and 2008 54%. Other Christians who voted for a pro-choice candidate for President were approximately the same percentage and percentages of Jewish, other faith and unaffiliated were substantially higher, according to the Pew Research Center.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship also states that the Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well formed conscience. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. Conscience is not something that allow us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do. Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil. Conscience always requires serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truths of our faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Conscience is a judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he/she is going to perform, is in the process of performing,or has already completed. In all he/she says and does, man/woman is obliged to follow faithfully what he/she knows to be just and right”.
Preparing to vote as a faithful citizen is not an easy task, it is a challenge, but a challenge worth dealing with taking into consideration all the freedoms we enjoy and cherish as citizens of the United States. As we prepare to vote let us pray for one another that we make the best possible choices.
In the end, it is our well developed conscience that is going to lead us through any of these life decisions, we can have all the laws in the world proclaiming they are legal or illegal. It will be our individual conscience that makes the final decision; are you prepared to make those decisions as an individual?
Let us continue to pray for an end of terrorism and violence!
In peace and courage,