Catholics duty-bound to vote in line with Church teaching: US bishops

Arguing that "a renewed 'Catholic vote' could become a political force for justice", bishops from the US state of Illinois say that Catholics must exercise their duty to vote in accord with Catholic social principles beginning with human dignity and the right to life.

Catholic Online reports that in a newly released document, "Elections, Conscience and the Responsibility to Vote", the 12 bishops of the Catholic Conference of Illinois stress the importance of voting for Catholics who make up almost one-third of the US citizenry.

Stressing the importance of "fundamental moral choices", the bishops urge "Catholics to become more aware of Catholic moral and social teaching and to become more involved in the political process".

"As citizens, we ought to desire the best possible political leaders to help us achieve the common good, and we have a responsibility to participate in the political process by voting," Chicago Cardinal Francis George and the eleven other Illinois bishops said.

"We must cast our vote through prayerful consideration and in accordance with our conscience formed by the Catholic faith" based upon "the authentic moral teaching of the church," they said.

Catholics must therefore "inform and form our consciences as citizens in accordance with the principles of Catholic social teaching", the bishops said.

The bishops characterised "the dignity of every human person and each one's basic right to life from conception to natural death" as a non-negotiable principle of Catholic faith and for non-Catholics who believe that society "should protect its weakest members".

"Other principles," the Illinois bishops added, "include the call to community and participation, the centrality of the family, the dignity of work and rights of workers, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and the commitment to stewardship of the environment."

Catholics should make their voting decisions based on the candidates "most committed to being a public servant dedicated to the common good," the 12 bishops said, adding that that dedication requires the inclusive protection of law of the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.

"Any candidate who supports a public policy where part of humanity - such as the pre-born, the elderly, the handicapped or the sick - is excluded from the protection of law and treated as if they were non-persons," they said, "is gravely deficient in his or her view of the requirements of a just society".

Given the number of candidates who fall "short of a vision of the common good as rich and full as Catholic social teaching," the bishops say Catholics should become more active politically.

"We call on Catholics who understand and accept the church's teaching to become more engaged in political life," the Illinois bishops said.

"We urge Catholics to run for office, work within the political parties, contribute time to campaigns and join diocesan legislative networks, community organizations and other efforts to apply Catholic principles in the public square."

Catholic citizens have duty to vote in accord with church's social teaching, bishops state (Catholic Online, 18/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal Francis George (Archdiocese of Chicago)
Cardinal Francis George (Wikipedia)

US Democrats to appoint "Catholic Outreach" coordinator (CathNews, 16/6/06)

Fr Andrew Hamilton, "Politics and religion are not warring states" (Eureka Street 17/10/06)
ABC Religion Report - John Buggy and Frank on conscience

19 Oct 2006