VOTING WITH A CATHOLIC CONSCIENCE
The Church equips its members to address political questions by helping them develop well-formed consciences. "Conscience" is a practical judgment that we make about the quality of a moral act, based on our knowledge and reason, aided by grace (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1777-78). Our conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we feel like doing. Instead, it is our moral compass for judging right from wrong.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is a document produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that guides the faithful on how to make responsible voting choices.
PLEASE READ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship here
How do I start forming my conscience?
Start by being open to the truth and desiring to do what is right. Follow the proper guides: Sacred Scripture, the authoritative teachings of the Church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the wise counsel of others. The U.S. Bishops have also published a useful article on conscience formation.
How should I evaluate candidates?
Does the candidate promote human life and dignity? Is he/she committed to justice and peace? Does the candidate possess integrity? What is his/her agenda? How are the candidate's policies in light of Catholic social teaching?
Is there anything non-negotiable?
Catholics must always oppose grave and intrinsic evils such as abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, torture, etc. The right to life and the dignity of the human person must always take priority.
“Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care... But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life” (U.S. Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life).
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all” (New York State Bishops).
Can I ever vote for a pro-choice candidate?
In the vast majority of cases, Catholics cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate in good conscience. Voting in this way would only be permissible “for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil” (Faithful Citizenship 35).
What happens if all the candidates are pro-choice?
In this unfortunate circumstance, Catholics can vote for the candidate who is less likely to push an evil agenda, more likely to pursue other good goals, and more likely limit damage. Catholics can also choose not for vote or they can write in a better candidate (Faithful Citizenship 36).
Resources for Voter Education at Parishes
It is essential that voter education efforts at parishes are non-partisan, but instead are dedicated to presenting Church teaching to the faithful, so that they can form a good Catholic conscience.
Helpful LinksRegister to vote here
*Please note that the website linked above is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York or any other Catholic institution. This link is provided for information only, and should not be considered as an explicit or implicit endorsement of any candidate, or a comparison of any candidate's positions to the teachings of the Church.