Election time, form your conscience

Eartly voting has been going on in Virginia since mid-September. Therefore, it is time to review our duties and responsibilities as Catholics in the public square.

As Catholics our social obligations include political involvement and being informed voters, voting in consonance with the doctrines of our faith. Through the USCCB guide Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine (Compendium), we have ample resources to know what the doctrines of the faith are. The Compendium tells us, “The Church’s social doctrine has the task of proclamation, but also of denunciation.” Therefore, as Catholics we must oppose movements and organizations that act in opposition to God’s law and the common good. 

Each human being is unique and unrepeatable and, therefore, we cannot vote for or support intrinsic evils.  Intrinsic evils include abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and research on human embryos. Closely related is the sanctity of the family. We cannot vote for issues that deny the family and family rights (such as parental rights to be involved with their children’s lives, health, and education). Similarly, racism is contrary to Catholic teaching and must be opposed (policies such as Critical Race Theory which target whites, are inherently racist).

 Not all issues are of equal importance. Intrinsic evils are non-negotiable and must not be supported. Negotiable policies deal with how issues such as job creation, welfare policies and immigration might be implemented. Abortion is significantly more important than welfare issues. As Pope St. John Paul II noted, “It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all inalienable rights are founded and from which they develop.”

The Virginia Catholic Conference, representing both the Arlington and Richmond dioceses, has put together guides detailing the positions of the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general (https://vacatholic.org/action-center/catholics-vote-2021/). However, in order to understand the formation of your conscience it refers the reader to the USCCB publication, Formation of Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, some of whose critical points I have briefly touched on here.

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