As the midterm election approaches, many Catholics are trying to figure out how to reconcile their beliefs with the current political climate and candidates in Georgia and nationally. To do that, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls on Catholics to become familiar again with principles of Catholic social teaching as they prepare to cast ballots in less than a week.
In their 2007 guiding document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the U.S. bishops said,
“Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.”
- The right to life and the dignity of the human person;
- Call to family, community and participation;
- Rights and responsibilities, such as the right to life, right to food and shelter, and education;
- Option for the poor and vulnerable, which means that those who are weak, vulnerable and most in need deserve preferential concern;
- Dignity of work and the rights or workers;
- Solidarity with others, including eradicating racism and addressing extreme poverty;
- Caring for God's creation.
The Catholic Church does not embrace a particular political party or endorse candidates, but calls upon members of the Church to vote with a properly formed conscience by studying and applying the principles of its social teaching. The basis for all of the themes is the first one, which recognizes and supports the right to life and the dignity of the human person.
“Catholic teaching about the dignity of life calls us to oppose torture, unjust war, and the use of the death penalty; to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; and to overcome poverty and suffering.”
“Catholic voters should use the framework of Catholic teaching to examine candidates' positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates' integrity, philosophy and performance.”
“Everyone has the right to live a dignified life in their home country, but should be able to move if their home country does not offer that.”
An important point to consider is that there is usually not a candidate who will support every single view and teaching of the Catholic Church, which is why it is so vital for people to know the social teaching principles and to be engaged in the political process and well informed as citizens and as Catholics.
“The Church is principled but not ideological. We cannot compromise basic principles or moral teaching. We are committed to clarity about our moral teaching and to civility. In public life. It is important to practice the virtues of justice and charity that are at the core of our Tradition. We should work with others in a variety of ways to advance our moral principles.”