Called to Political Responsibility

Every four years citizens of the United States are encouraged to exercise their right to vote. This is a civic duty and privilege but it is also a responsibility as Catholic Christians. During the coming weeks and months there will be innumerable speeches and huge amounts of money used to further national party platforms and candidates. We are blessed with religious liberty in the United States which safeguards our right to bring our principles and moral convictions into the public arena. It is not easy to discern those who would best serve the needs of our country.

The principle of the common good is a principle which can guide our discernment in choosing candidates and determining how to vote on certain issues. The common good is the conditions (spiritual, social and material) that are needed in a society in order for each person to recognize and realize his or her human dignity. Vatican Council II in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #75, states that “political parties should foster whatever they judge necessary for the common good. But they should never prefer their own advantage over this same common good.” Seeking the common good can be a difficult course to follow.

Vatican Council II speaks eloquently of the dignity of the moral conscience. It states that in the depths of each human being there is a law written on our hearts which calls us to love good and avoid evil. Again, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #16, says:
“Our very dignity comes from observing this inner law, and by it we will be judged. Conscience is our most secret core and sanctuary. It is where we are alone with God, whose voice echoes in our depths. The voice we hear will always, in a variety of ways, call us to love God and neighbor well. By being faithful to it, we are joined with all of humanity in a great human search for truth and for genuine solutions to the vexing problems of modern life.”

As Catholic Christians and citizens of the world we cannot differ on our moral obligation to help build a more just and peaceful world so that the weak and vulnerable, especially and including all of creation, are protected