Fr. Charlie Banks
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
As we strive to be faithful citizens of the United States of America and participate in the election process, we face demanding moral choices. When we personally engage in the process of electing officials, we – as people of Christian faith – consciously bring with us the transcendent TRUTH of Jesus Christ in regard to human life and its dignity in all realms, and we are motivated by the CHARITY of Jesus Christ.
Two teaching moments in the ministry of Jesus Christ that entail consequences for us are:
- The Beatitudes – Matthew 6 – and “the Golden Rule” – Matthew 7. These are good guides for us to reflect on how we are to live, make choices, and the call to each of us to be leaven in the world.
- The Judgment of the Nations – Matthew 25. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. We are called to be those who help make positive change in a world that does not know Jesus.
As Catholic Christians – guided by Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church – we reverence, defend and ….
- Uphold the CONSISTENT ethic of human life;
- Uphold the INTRINSIC value of human life and human rights;
- Uphold the GIFT of human life from conception to natural death.
Responsible citizenship is a virtue: we have a moral obligation to participate in political life. We are to be guided by our conscience and then act prudently in making our choices in the political arena.
- Conscience is the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience (Webster’s College Dictionary)
- Prudence helps us with wisdom to be discrete, judicious and circumspect (cautious) in regard to making choices that will impact the future.
In the most basic form, our conscience guides us to do good and avoid evil.
Doing Good (some areas of concern):
Right to food for all and sustainable agriculture, shelter, education, potable water, health care, work/just and living wage, protecting family and marriage, value of children, avoidance of war and promotion of peace, reverse the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, criminal justice/gun violence, promotion of religious liberty, end all discrimination against human beings, etc…..
Rejecting Evil (some areas of concerns):
Innocent victims of abortion, euthanasia/assisted suicide, children who die of hunger or from bombings, human cloning and destruction of human embryos, genocide, torture, direct and intentional targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, pandemic effects of illegal drugs and related violent deaths, exploitation of human dignity by the pornography industry, etc…..
Some Other Issues of Importance:
Immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow/refugees, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, human trafficking of men, women and children for sexual exploitation, death penalty, slavery, kidnapping, etc….
Seven Keys Themes of Catholic Social Teaching
There are seven key themes that flow out of Catholic social teaching, which can guide us in our choices:
- Right to Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family, Community, and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable (unborn, disabled, terminally ill, etc…)
- Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- Solidarity (We are one and yet many)
- Care for God’s Creation (stewardship of environment)
Take the time to study the issues. We each need to make time as faithful citizens to know the issues. Yes, it is extremely complicated and yet still it is crucial for the future of our lives and our nation. The Church does not tell us how we are to vote. Rather, it gives us guiding principles that help us make decisions. That means that people of good will can come to different conclusions, when there is not clarity on a given political race or issue. So, to help make these decisions, we should:
**Focus on moral principles:
- The defense of human life
- The needs of the weak
**Pursue the common good;
**Follow the example of Jesus.
Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and discernment before voting
Vote. Every vote counts. Vote and do your part to help eradicate voter apathy in our beloved land!
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, from the USCCB.