If you live in a country where you elect government officials (like in the United States) then you know voting is an important part of citizenship. Moreover, if you are Catholic, you have a duty to vote in accordance with your Catholic beliefs; we are first children of God and then citizens of our country.
As a Catholic it is part of your baptismal commitment to bear witness to Christ in all aspects of your life. This includes political thought and action.
What is a Catholic Vote?
The Catholic Church does not promote or endorse any particular political party or candidate and for good reason. Nor are you obliged to vote for any particular party as a Catholic.
Often candidates’ platforms fall in line only partially with Catholic teaching. It is rare to find a candidate that supports all aspects of the Catholic faith. In the event that one candidate or party is not the clear front-runner for a Catholic voter then you are left choosing between “the lesser of two evils.”
Voting as a Catholic you must consider all the aspects of the issue, candidate or party; faithful citizenship demands an informed vote.
Catholic Social Teaching
Here are seven main themes of Catholic Social Teaching to help you inform your vote.
- The Right to Life and the Dignity of the Human Person
- All people are created equal in the image and likeness of God and therefore have the same right to life as anyone else regardless of stage of life and physical or mental capabilities.
- Call the Family, Community and Participation
- Humans are social beings. The family is the central unit through which people grow and learn about God and as such should be strengthened and supported. We are not isolated individuals, but part of a society that is called to work together.
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible, and a right to access to those things required for human decency – food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life.
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Jesus taught us to live by his example. In the Gospels Jesus spends his time with the poorest and most vulnerable people. We must live by his example. Today there is an ever-growing gap between the richest and the poorest. The mission of the Church has always been to raise people up and care for their humanity. First John 3:17 teaches us that we must care for those who have less than us.
- The Dignity of Workers and the Rights of Workers
- Business and the economy serve the people; people do not serve the economy. Employers should be contributing to the common good of all people through their products and employment, not just looking to make a healthy profit and allow a few people to get rich at the expense of others.
- Even if we are not all baptized Christians we are still equal in dignity in God’s eyes and part of the God’s creation. If one suffers, all of humanity suffers. To be in solidarity is to commit to the well-being of others, not simply a shallow distress at other people’s misfortunes.
- Care for God’s Creation
- The earth is a gift from God and like all gifts from God we should cultivate it carefully and responsibly. How we treat the environment is a sign of respect for God. The earth is not ours to consume and dispose because we share it with a lot of other people right now and in the future.
What to Do Before Election Day
Take time to learn more about the candidates and issues at all levels (if applicable). Form your conscience by learning more about Catholic teaching and discern God’s truth and will. Pray about your vote.
If you genuinely take the time to do these things you can rest assured that you have put forth your best effort to make a faithful vote on the day of elections.