As we draw closer to Election Day, I would like to talk about how we should approach our voting choices. I am not here to tell you whom you should vote for. I want you to consider the following as you prepare for your personal decision.
- Exercise your vote. As Catholics we are responsible citizens who take their civic duties seriously. To participate in democracy and elect our leaders is a privilege that we cannot take for granted. All of us who are eligible to vote must vote. Our vote does count and it can make a world of difference in a tight election.
- Be skeptical. During the campaign season there is so much spin and so much deception on both sides of the aisle, and we should not allow ourselves to be duped by pundits and experts. Do not give too much weight to polls. We need to expose ourselves to many channels for our information and cross-check the facts. Too many politicians pander to their electorate and rely on focus groups to say anything just to get elected.
- Vote the common good and not merely your pocketbook. We often hear that Americans vote their pocketbook. We can think about how a particular candidate will affect our financial situation. However, it is important to think of the common good in the long term. We need to choose leaders who will guarantee a peaceful and prosperous life for our children and our grandchildren, and not merely for those who are living now. Often we are called upon to sacrifice our own self-interest at the present moment so that we can ensure the viability of our society as a whole in the years to come.
- Vote your Catholic values. We are not merely citizens of this world; we are citizens of heaven. Our vote cannot clash with our Catholic values. Protecting the unborn, respect for life, peace, the right to live with human dignity for all peoples, taking care of the poor and the helpless, religious liberty, strengthening traditional marriage and family – all these values merit our serious consideration. However, protecting the unborn is not one among other issues. Since abortion is an intrinsic evil, we must keep this in mind as we choose our leaders. The issue of abortion cannot be ignored or minimized in our voting decision. Although we must consider all basic human rights as we vote, the right to life must claim our most serious consideration. Without the basic right to live, all other rights are irrelevant and superfluous.
- The presidential election will have long-term consequences. During every election we hear people say, “This presidential election is like none other.” With regard to Election 2016 this saying holds true. For the first time in several years citizens have a very difficult choice. Our vote will affect the nation and the world for years to come. The next president will have the power to appoint new Supreme Court justices who can determine the trajectory of our nation for the next couple of decades. Even though as Church we will always face opposition and resistance from the civil society, we do not want our religious liberty compromised or severely restricted.
- Do not lose sight of the rest of the world. As a nation, whether we like it or not, we are set on a hill as a beacon. We are called upon to lead and we cannot afford to isolate ourselves. We need to elect a president who will uphold the Judeo-Christian values on which this country is founded not only at home but also abroad. Whatever decision is made in Washington will deeply affect the rest of the world. We need a president who will guide our nation and our world to peace, prosperity and harmony.
- Prayerfully discern your vote. Please do not cast your vote swayed by what political pundits or talking heads say. Prayerfully consider your decision in God’s presence. Ask yourself whether this is how your faith and your values will lead you to vote. Think seriously of the consequences your choice will have on the future of your children. No candidate on the ballot is totally perfect. Often we have to choose the lesser evil. We need to choose someone who will cause the least amount of harm to society, to the common good, to the unborn and to our families.
As you hold your children and kiss them good night, think of what type of president they deserve to have. There is no greater miracle than the gift of life. We should be able to defend our voting choices when we will stand before the judgment seat of God. In recent bulletins we have been publishing articles from the US Catholic Conference of Bishops. If you would like more help, please access the following site: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm
Let us lift up our nation in prayer. I encourage all our families to pray daily for these elections. May the Lord have mercy on our country and help elect leaders who will follow the laws of God and respect the teachings of the Church!