It’s election time again, when conversations with friends and family turn to the fate of the nation as we know it.
Candidates speak to how we should fear and fret about the impending doom should one party prevail over another. I often ponder the predicament of our bishops, who must share how the faith should inform our politics and how Christ calls us to vote in accordance with a well-formed conscience, all without being or appearing partisan.
There is a temptation to think that this presidential election season is like all others, and we can each go about our normal voting routine.
However, this election is happening after the Fortnight of Freedom, an unprecedented two-week campaign by the U.S. bishops to warn Catholics of the serious threat to religious freedom we currently face. While all elections matter, this election really matters: The results will likely affect our rights as Catholics to live and act in the public square in accordance with our Catholic conscience.
Consequently, we as Catholics have a duty to vote in this election and to take care that we prepare ourselves to vote in accordance with a Christian conscience. So here are a few questions to ponder before November.
Is my conscience calibrated? Our conscience is our inner sense, a perception whereby both the heart and mind show us good and evil. While it is easy to say, “Vote your conscience,” it can be difficult, practically speaking. The conscience can be mistaken.
Like a compass that shows true north can be misdirected by the pull of a magnet, the rhetorical pull of campaigns can trick our consciences. To calibrate, we should pray for wisdom and look to what the bishops teach on the issues.
We’re also called to recognize the special demand that resisting evil claims on our conscience. Ask, “Does this candidate support policies that extinguish life, erode the family, or trample religious dignity?” (such as: abortion, same-sex marriage, racism or the destruction of conscience and religious protection).
Does my faith form my ideology or does my ideology form my faith? An ideology is a philosophy of the public good and how to solve problems that is designed to emotionally engage a majority of people and give its proponents power. There are many differing opinions on how best to achieve the good, and Catholics can get caught up in all the ideologies.
However, as Christians, we’re called by Jesus into discipleship. We are to be leaven to the world, lifting up Christ’s rule of love and justice, even in the voting booth.
If your parish or church group would like information on how our faith informs our vote, contact the archdiocesan office for social justice and I’ll be glad to come speak.