Much like the past few years, the upcoming elections seem frustrating no matter our political affiliation. Even so, we must remember that responsible citizenship is a virtue. Our voting decisions should be decided by our conscience—not the media, political parties, or special interest groups.
As Christians, our conscience should be formed by natural moral law. Natural moral law is part of our human nature and is founded in the Ten Commandments. Unlike the civil laws made by legislators, or the opinions that we hold, natural moral law is not anything that we invent. It comes from God. In short, our conscience is the voice of truth within us. It guides our actions and needs to be in harmony with that truth. As Catholics, we have the benefit of the Church’s teaching to help us understand the truth and natural moral law as it relates to specific issues. We also have the obligation to correctly form our conscience and be informed of the Church’s teaching. That includes picking up the Catechism and reading it.
Pope Francis said that making progress in building a peaceful and just society depends on principles which are in tension with social reality. These principles are based on the Church’s social doctrine and include human dignity, human rights and responsibilities, respect for work and the rights of workers, care for God’s creation, and the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable. Taken together, these principles provide a moral framework for Catholic engagement in advancing what is called a “consistent ethic of life.”
This ethic does not treat all issues as morally equivalent, nor does it reduce Catholic teaching to one or two issues. It anchors the Catholic commitment to defend human life and other human rights, from conception until natural death, in the fundamental obligation to respect the dignity of every human being as a child of God. The USCCB says that Catholic voters should use Catholic teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues related to our core principles and consider a candidate’s integrity, philosophy, and performance. It is important for all citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest.
Our Catechism says that a society cannot be well-ordered nor prosperous unless the people with authority to govern preserve its institutions and devote themselves to work and care for the common good. The foundation of this authority must lie in moral order derived from God, and cannot be contrary to His Natural Law. As we prepare to vote next month, may we prayerfully seek to form our conscience to consider the issues of today’s society. Doing so will promote the three essential elements of the common good: respecting the fundamental rights and dignity of each person, developing society’s spiritual and material needs, and protecting the peace and security of the people (Catechism 1897–1927).
Sunday carbs don’t count. Those are the Lord’s carbs and He wants you to be happy.