Called to Vote, to Participate in Political Life

The Importance of Putting Well-Formed Consciences to Work at the Ballot Box

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The Church tells us “by reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.” The laity participates in them in a special way so as to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated so that they may always be affected according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator.

The initiatives of lay Christians are necessary for matters involving discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element in the life of the Church.

Lay believers are in the front line of Church life, for them the Church is the animating principal of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever clear consciousness not only of belong to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say the community of the Faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and the bishops in communion with them. They are the Church.

This brings us to the looming crucial mid term elections in November. Now is a good time to be reminded of our important duty as Catholics to participate in playing a role in the governance of our troubled country by voting according to our conscience as Catholics! There can be no excuse not to vote, and also every Catholic is called, in as much as possible, to participate one way or another in the political life of our country. Our country began as a democratic republic whose founding documents are based on the natural law found in the mind and heart of every man and woman—instilled there by God Himself. They are based on Christian Roots from what was once known as the West or Christendom! Religious liberty is our most precious freedom and comes not from the State, but from God Himself.

The Catechism of the Church is very clear on this point. Faced with a conscious moral choice, one can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason, and the divine law, or on the other hand, make an erroneous judgment that departs from divine law.

The Church helps us by forming our conscience according to the teachings of the Church on matters revealed in Scripture, the Commandments and the Natural Law written in our mind and heart. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as by the virtue of prudence and the advice of competent people.

Man has the right to act in freedom, he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience, especially in religious matters which are increasingly under attack on every level of our government. In these cases we should particularly remember the roles that “one can never do evil so that good may result from it” and the Golden Rule “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, so you must do unto them.”

As we all are aware of, we are living in a country that is in many no longer Christian at all—indeed could be considered Pagan or atheist. Think of abortion on demand, divorce and remarriage, open homosexuality, curtailment of Religious liberty, the pervasive presence of pornography in our culture: the list could go on.

But before we get depressed, lets remember that we still have a vote and, happily, there are many Christian voters who can and will vote according to their well-formed consciences. Many of us have recourse to the voter guides put together by our local dioceses.

I urge you to get involved and stay involved. This is a culture war and it is ours to win. May God’s will be done; we may not be crusaders fighting in battle, but our enemies are just as dangerous.

Father C. J. McCloskey III, S.T.D. is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC. This article has been published by kind permission of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum.

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C.J. McCloskey

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