Put Out into the Deep

Who Deserves Our Vote?

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Winston Churchill, quoting one of his obscure predecessors, remarked “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” This year’s election certainly seems to bolster the Prime Minister’s position.

Many have commented upon and much has been written about the inadequacies of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party presidential nominees. Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are polarizing political figures nationally and broadly unpopular with the members of their own respective parties.

So what must we do as Catholics and faithful citizens? In a representative democracy, voting is a fundamental responsibility. It is not simply a civic requirement, but rather a moral obligation.

Saint John Paul II reminds us, “…the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in ‘public life’, that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.” (Christifideles Laici, 42)

Elected officials have authority based on our consent. Therefore, we share the burden for the evil that the state may perpetrate, as well as the credit for the goodness of its policies and deeds.

So we might begin by asking what is the purpose of the government or the State? In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cc) we read, “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.” (cc1897) Thus, we can conclude that the purpose of government is to work towards the common good.

All answers lead us to another question. What is the common good? The Church understands the common good as creating the conditions so that as individuals and as a group we may find fulfillment. This is not dissimilar to our Founding Fathers, in writing the Declaration of Independence, prioritized the rights of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Over the next weeks until the presidential election, we will look at the positions of the two presidential candidates and how their positions on various domestic and international issues are con- sistent or inconsistent with the three fundamental components of the common good.

They are as follows:
1. “The right to act according to a sound norm

of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.” (cc1907)

2. “To make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.” (cc1908)

3. “The stability and security of a just social order.” (cc1909)

In this Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, James Waitemon exits a voting booth in New York City after voting in the presidential election. After 50 years, voting rights remain difficult question in many communities. (CNS photo/Peter Foley, EPA) See WASHINGTON-LETTER-VOTING Aug. 27, 2015.
In a representative democracy, voting is a fundamental responsibility. It is not simply a civic requirement, but a moral obligation.

Typically, elections turn on categories of liberal, conservative, left and right paradigms. These categories are fundamentally inconsistent with the teachings of the Church.

Indeed, we as Catholics must prioritize the “right to life.” It is accurate to think of the sanctity of life as non-negotiable for the Catholic voter. At the same time, in a Doctrinal note issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1999, Bishops were reminded that, “A well- formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church’s social doc- trine does not exhaust one’s responsibility towards the common good.” (CDF 4)

For us as Catholic citizens, it is gravely wrong to vote for a candidate because he or she supports laws and policies that allow for the destruction of innocent human life. At the same time, the commitment to safeguarding human life in one stage of development does not relieve us from the responsibility to promote respect for human life and dignity at all other stages and in all other spheres of our common life as a society.

Our Catholic Faith requires that we go about the hard work of forming our conscience. This involves reflecting on the Sacred Scriptures and the plan that Almighty God has for us – His creation which He loves. At the same time, we study the constant teaching of the Church and see how the great Fathers and Mothers of the Church have understood the application of Scripture to the very real and evolving circumstances of our world. Then, after all of this and considering the discrete choices that confront us, we are called to choose.

Voting is choosing and it requires the great gift of prudence. The American bishops remind us that “Catholics may choose different ways to respond to compelling social problems, but we cannot differ on our moral obligation to help build a more just and peaceful world through morally acceptable means, so that the weak and vulnerable are protected and human rights and dignity are defended.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship 20)

Our Nation and world constantly put out into the deep in the face of difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges, from callous disregard for human life both in the womb and at the end of life to strife in our cities; religious persecution abroad to racial tensions at home; an economy that has left so many behind to the disintegration of the family; war abroad and the threat of terrorism at home to the plight of immigrants. All of us pray for a world in which human life, economic prosperity and peace between nations flourish. If that is what we desire, then we also must vote to make it a reality.

4 thoughts on “Who Deserves Our Vote?

  1. Please help defeat hate, As a LGBT Catholic who does his best to live in the model of Jesus , And The Little Flower….Not because I like flowers but I love her Motto . I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. Its my favorite stained glass window at my Parrish. It even is scary for this 57 year old single man to even write to you asking for your support. I am usually a very private person. My partner was killed 7 years ago and i have no intentions of going through that kind of pain again. But I will say that the thought that the Church I love sincerely would ask the Faithful to even consider Voting for Donald Trump is appalling as well as frightening . Our democracy , our Constitution are at stake. Separation of Church and State must always be a two way street. I fear a Trump Presidency would open the door for the Westboro Baptist type Evangelical Christians to the nations seat of government. I also feel like just about everybody has been insulted , attacked and humiliated by this man. He is no example to lead our Nation. I urge you to consider Hillary Clinton’s experience and genuine desire to help people for over 40 years. My favorite of Christ teaching is the Beatitudes. At the Phonebank on Adams street while i call voters across the country I keep them in mind.

  2. I know the pain associated with the loss of a loved one. I can also understand the pain you have gone thru in your life. What one believes in or has feelings for should be between man or woman and God. Today, rights denied people of different genders have been guaranteed by our Supreme Court supported by the democratic and republican parties. Yet there are many of those same people that were discriminated against and with the full support of the democratic party are now trying to pass legislation that will discriminate against The Catholic Church and our beliefs. LGBT groups who were discriminated against in the past are now going out of their way to force people to do something that they don’t agree with. Is that right, I don’t think so. It is not the individuals who make up the LGBT community that are wrong it is only those LGBT groups who use them to force their own LGBT political agenda. You cannot ask for your rights and then take away the others rights.
    Donald and Hilary might not have the moral character that we would like Presidential Candidates to have but power of money has made this choice.for us
    Asking the church not to support Donald Trump because you fear he might interfere with your agenda or the LGBT, is not right. You and I have to vote on what is best for this country. Hilary represents the establishment , special interest groups , Wall Street and a global economy at the expense of the American workers, Open Boarders and politicians in both parties. All those people and groups have gotten this country in the bad shape we are in. This country is in very bad financial ,educational shape , loss of jobs and high medical cost are killing the middle class .We the voters have let this happen. the Democrats want tell us how to live what we should eat now what we should think, what and how we should believe THE Goverenment Knoews whats BEST. They don’t.
    Donald is against all that , He wants a Strong Military, Fix the VA, Restore the education system , Fix Health care, support the Constitution as written, Close the boarders , deport illegal aliens and foreign criminals. Fix the Justice dept and FBI. so everyone gets the same equal rights . Also the biggest most discriminated Americans in this country , The Inner city African American Community . They have been kept enslaved by the democratic Party for over the last fifty years. All for their vote. They have received nothing in return. Their children have no chance for the American dream. the education system in the inner cities are a disgrace and are all controlled by the Democrats . Donald also is going to introduce legislation for term limits. Which is needed ,So at the next election we can have men and woman who believe in liberty and freedom for all to live and practice their faith and lives without the government interfering , Running for office . I’m going to pray that any who read this ask God to help them choose the right candidate who will lead this country back to God and what is right for all.

  3. John, I’m writing in response to the thoughts you expressed on Oct. 14. First of all, may I offer condolences on the loss of your partner. I am so sorry. And I commend you on the clarity of your focus. Neither our country, nor our government, nor any of us are without fault. But I find it objectionable to paint the two Presidential candidates with the same brush, labelling both of them inadequate and corrupt. You are correct in denouncing Trump as incapable of leading our nation and in urging us to vote for Hillary Clinton and give her the respect she so deserves. If the Church “cannot” support one candidate over the other, it does great harm by adding so much unconstructive negativism to the pain-filled circumstances of so many of us. The Beatitudes are clearly more appropriate. May you always know God’s love and peace.

  4. I am amazed and saddened at the rhetoric that is being disseminated in these pages. For some reason the Democratic party is demonized and its members are considered to be traitors. Mr. Trump is portrayed as an outsider who is going to ride into Washington on a white horse and sweep the government clean and restore Christian values. One has only to look at Mr. Trump’s own personal life to question his understanding of Christian values. Any candidate endorsed by the leader of the Ku Klux Klan would seem to me to be an unacceptable choice not only for Christians but for any voter with a social conscience.