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Well in case you haven’t noticed, we are in the midst of another election year and November 8th is coming upon us very quickly—not quickly enough for everyone who is tired of the annoying phone calls asking for donations or the incessant political TV and radio ads. The question of what is a Catholic’s responsibility in an election always comes up every few years; and while the Church will never endorse a political party or candidate, it does offer some guidance on how to navigate the political arena.

Every election season the USCCB puts out a document called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship which outlines a Catholic’s moral obligation to participate in the political process:

In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to any political party or interest group. In today’s environment, Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and few candidates fully share our comprehensive commitment to human life and dignity. This should not discourage us. On the contrary, it makes our obligation to act all the more urgent. Catholic lay women and men need to act on the Church’s moral principles and become more involved: running for office, working within political parties, and communicating concerns to elected officials. Even those who cannot vote should raise their voices on matters that affect their lives and the common good. Faithful citizenship is an ongoing responsibility, not just an election year duty.

In a recent interview, the former pastor of Blessed Sacrament and current Bishop of Lincoln, NE, Bishop James Conley, was asked what issues and qualities he thought are important when examining a candidate for public office. This was his response:

"For me, personally, I first consider the life issues. I was the director of the Respect Life Office in Wichita for eight years. Human life is as fundamental as you can get.

This includes the beginning of life, which brings up the abortion issue, and the end of life, which brings up euthanasia/assisted suicide. And everything that occurs in between. I want to support candidates who uphold the sanctity of life, despite its stage, and without consideration of disabilities, dependency, or lack of financial resources.

If we don’t get the life issue right, what else is there? If you’re not alive, no other rights pertain. It is fundamental, and we have an obligation to respect those rights… Close in importance to the life issue is the family. Life comes out of the family, and a candidate’s understanding of marriage and human sexuality is crucial."

Even if you are like most people and are not terribly pleased with any of your voting options, it is still your duty to be involved in the political process and to vote for candidates who will best respect defend all human life, the good of marriage and the family, and religious freedom.

In Christ, through Mary,

Fr. Curtis

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