Jesus Christ is our eternal consolation and hope.
My role as priest and pastor, when exercising my teaching office, is not to endorse a candidate, thanks be to God! But it is very much my duty to fight Catholic prejudice and to proclaim that the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church should inform our conscience, our prudential decisions, and our civic duties.
Unfortunately, some folks have given greater allegiance to a mere political party than to God. When they left Egypt, the Israelites built and bowed down to a golden calf. Today, some bow to either a golden donkey or a golden elephant and worship it instead of the Living God.
“This doesn’t mean we can’t be a part of a political party, but it does mean that we fight to align our political party’s positions to the goodness, beauty, and truth of God, not the other way around. And it does mean we have to question our affiliation with a political party if we’re being beaten down left and right and find that our Catholic beliefs are not only unwelcome, but continually derided.” (Fr Chase Canoy)
We must exercise, and exorcise, our conscience as we prepare to vote this week.
How do I start forming my conscience?
Start by being open to the truth and desiring to do what is right. Follow the proper guides: Sacred Scripture, the authoritative teachings of the Church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the wise counsel of others.
How should I evaluate candidates?
Does the candidate promote human life and dignity? Is he/she committed to justice and peace? Does the candidate possess integrity? What is his/her agenda?
Are there any "non-negotiable" issues on which we cannot compromise?
Catholics must always oppose grave and intrinsic evils such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning. The right to life and the dignity of the human person must always take priority.
“Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care... But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life” (U.S. Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life).
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all” (New York State Bishops).
Can I ever vote for a pro-choice candidate?
In the vast majority of cases, Catholics cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate in good conscience. Voting in this way would only be permissible “for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil” (Faithful Citizenship 35).
What is the Church teaching of Subsidiarity?
The Catechism states, “excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative.... The principle of subsidiarity...sets limits for state intervention.... Neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.” To put it more simply, a larger and more complex organization should not be doing the things that can be done just as well by a smaller and simpler organization.
What if I don’t like either candidate?
Even if we are so repulsed by both of the candidates at the top of the ticket and cannot bear to vote for either of them, the other races on the rest of ballot are crucial. So please do your research! Which people and platforms, imperfect as they are, will give the people of God the best opportunity to have the freedom to imbue our broken world with the values and virtues of the Gospel?
On another note, I humbly ask your prayers for my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, for safe travels and good spiritual fruit. Please know I will take you and your intentions in my heart as I pray at the holy sites.
May God bless all of you, and may God bless the United States of America!
Father Robert Letona