Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Catholics Need to Be Involved in Politics

During the Bridge to Life dinner-dance last Sunday afternoon, I had an opportunity to chat with many pro-lifers who were concerned about the way that Catholics vote.

The sad fact is that only about 24 percent of those eligible to vote turned out last November when New York City elected a new mayor. And in Brooklyn and Queens, where we claim about a million and a half Catholics, only 300,000 are registered to vote.

These low figures should be reason for concern for those of us who believe that the Church should be engaged in the public debate about the common good. Right now, office holders give little more than lip service to Catholic concerns because Catholics do not vote or, when they do vote, they do not vote according to their beliefs of right and wrong.

The Catholic Church is not a voting bloc. But we as Catholics are called upon to participate in the public dialogue and to bring our consciences with us into the voting booths.

Our concerns need to be the concerns of the greater society, and right now we are having very little influence on public policy. Think the right to life, especially for the unborn child! Think religious liberty and the right to live our lives according to our conscience! Think about our right to educate our children in the schools we choose!

We are losing those battles because we do not reinforce our beliefs with our votes. We hide behind a false notion of not wanting to impose our values on others. We neglect our responsibility to influence the way the society thinks.

The result is that we are being conned into voting for representatives who do not believe in the values that our very nation has been built upon. Too many Catholics continue to vote along party lines because our parents and our grandparents voted for that party. We need more self-reflection and analysis of what is best for the common good. Catholics have got to get serious about their role in the public debate. We do that by showing up to vote and by voting for the things we truly believe in.

Otherwise, we get elected officials who are totally out of touch with the people, such as the current City Council. Its extreme left-wing agenda is totally out of step with its constituency. Except that it’s us who elected its members. In this week’s Letters to the Editor, you will even find one writer who claims that the current City Council is totally irrelevant.

Catholics must smarten up. If they are not registered to vote, they should participate in the next voter registration drive in their parish. If they are registered, then make sure you vote.

To be completely informed about the positions of the candidates, join the New York State Catholic Conference’s Catholic Action Network by logging on to www.nyscatholic.org. The conference will keep you up-to-date about legislative matters before the N.Y.S. Senate and Assembly. It will explain the Catholic bishops’ positions on the issues, and it will help you make known your feelings to your legislators.

We are feeling the results of our inaction and lack of unity. Schools are closing. Abortion is virtually on demand in New York State. We have a governor who can tell us he supports us and then turns a blind eye to our cause. And we have legislators who vote the party line with little regard for the will of the people.

It all can change, and it begins by paying attention to the political process.

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