Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Vote Your Conscience And Make a Difference

So, it’s time to make our choice. Does President Obama deserve another four years, or do we need to shift directions and elect Gov. Mitt Romney as President of the United States?

It’s your choice! The Tablet has been shedding light on the issues of the campaign as they affect our lives as Catholics, but that’s as far as we can go. We cannot tell you for whom to vote, and we cannot even make an endorsement of whom we would prefer.

Because of strict regulations by the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service, The Tablet cannot take political sides in order to maintain its status as a church-related, non-profit institution.

I think this is wrong. I consider it an infringement on the innate freedom of speech that publications should have. But it is the law, and so we abide by it.

That’s not to say that others pay attention to the rules. Many small denominational churches consistently use their places of worship to endorse candidates. They even go so far as to lend out their pulpits to candidates they favor in order to make political points.

But the IRS turns blind eyes to such infractions from these violations. No one bothers these churches. If the Catholic Church, however, went over the line, there would be any number of lawsuits to fight. There is clear discrimination over who has the right to say what.

Churches, which have a special tax-exempt status, should not have to pay taxes in order to exercise their rights to free speech. Free speech is an innate right. It is not something that should have to be purchased.

So, the Catholic Church sticks to issues and not to the endorsement of candidates. We have highlighted many issues of concern to us as Catholics in the upcoming elections: the right to life, from conception to natural death; the freedom of religions to maintain their beliefs; the need to feed the hungry and find jobs for all people; the pursuit of peace; and the future of the American economy, to name a few.

Not all issues carry the same weight. Some are clear cut. For example, a Catholic may never support abortion. Others fall more into a gray area. An example would be concern for the poor. The concern must always be there, but there can be a difference of opinion on how to achieve that. This week’s column by Bishop DiMarzio (see Page 4) goes further into what Catholics consider to be first principles and prudential judgements.

Catholics also have a duty to vote. We cannot stand on the sidelines and simply accept what others choose for us. We must be proactive in public debate and then register our choice at the ballot box. The work of the Catholic Citizens Committee in registering voters and encouraging everyone to vote has been commendable. Thousands of previously unregistered Catholics have been assisted with signing up at the Board of Elections.

This year’s election, not just the presidential race but also the contests for Congress and the state houses, is crucial to the form of democracy we will embark upon in the future. It also will determine how the Church will be allowed to function within that democracy.

We ask you to vote your conscience (see the editorial on the opposite page) and to shape your choices by the inner convictions that you hold as loyal Catholic people of faith.

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