Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Catholics Must Vote

How Catholics Must Vote

Do you wonder if there is a Catholic way to vote?  Some bishops have made it very clear that they believe there is.  Bishop Poprocki of Springfield Illinois has told his diocese that their immortal souls and salvation are in serious jeopardy if they vote a particular way, while stating that he is not telling them how to vote.  Archbishop Myers of Newark told Catholics in his Archdiocese that if one does not share the hierarchy’s view on same sex marriage, that one is subject to excommunication.  These bishops, while claiming they are not telling people how to vote, are saying that there is a particular Catholic way.  I agree with them.  But I would go them one further, and actually tell you how you are to vote if you wish to claim Catholicism as your religion.

I am not breaking new ground in doing so.  I am really only reiterating what the American bishops as a whole stated in their document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship…” prior to the 2008 elections and have re-released this year for the upcoming elections.  I am agreeing with the letter sent by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to the US bishops’ task force on Catholic politicians.  There is only one Catholic way to vote.  And if Catholics do not vote in that particular way, they are jeopardizing their immortal souls and salvation.  They are separating themselves from communion.

Let’s ease into this by reflecting on part of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter: “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, this can be permitted n the presence of proportionate reasons.”  He’s the Pope now.  Bishop Sample is not the Pope.  He has told the Catholics of Marquette Michigan not to vote for candidates who espouse same-sex marriages.  “This is absolutely non-negotiable when it comes to weighing the issues before us in any election cycle,” he wrote.

We must study the issues.  We must fully acquaint ourselves with the teaching Church’s position on these issues.  We must know what our bishops are saying is important in the election cycle. We must seriously consider the four major areas the bishops identify as those to which Catholics should give serious deliberation when preparing to vote:  war and other pro-life concerns; family matters; social justice; international aid and development.

None of the major candidates for president and vice-president are in 100% agreement with Catholic teaching on these issues—not even the two faithful Catholic candidates for Vice-President.  That doesn’t matter.  There is still only one way to vote.  Or, maybe two: Do not vote at all, or follow your conscience.  Its authority is even greater than the Pope’s.  That has always been a constant in Catholic teaching.