Latest newsletter #155 Click to read online

Voting With a Clear Conscience

Babette Francis

In an April 2014 email to supporters from Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life there was an important message for pro-lifers: he referred to a document he had published entitled "Voting with a Clear Conscience". Fr. Pavone stresses the importance of making an informed vote: "Abortion corrupts our whole society and retards progress on all the other issues ... including the economy and health care, and we Catholics will play a key role in the outcomes of this year's election......" [In the USA it is the mid-term elections in November and in Victoria it is the State election, also in November]

This obligation is so serious that in their 1998 document 'Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics', US bishops instructed Catholics on the vital role they play in the political process. In Paragraph 34 the bishops wrote:

"We encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. ... We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue - or lack thereof - is a judgment not only on them, but on us....."

"But there's a catch. When Catholics go into the voting booth, they do not cease to be Catholic! .... And that means being informed about both the issues and the candidates. It means applying Church teaching to our voting decisions. And most important of all, it means ......knowing which issues are non-negotiable and which are matters of prudential judgment. The Church is very clear in teaching Catholics which issues are of the greatest importance.Primary among these are direct attacks on innocent human life through ABORTION and EUTHANASIA. No matter what a candidate's position is on any other issue - the economy, health care, the 'War on Terror', the death sentence, immigration - if he or she promotes either abortion or euthanasia, then that candidate automatically DISQUALIFIES him or herself from public office. Period!"

"But how many Catholics know this? From the results of the 2012 [US]Presidential election, it's obvious that there are millions of our fellow Catholics who don't. In the 2012 Presidential election, over 29,000,000 Catholics went to the polls and voted. That's the good news. The bad news is this: Almost half of them voted for the man Archbishop Charles Chaput rightly called the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973....."

"Blessed John Paul II wrote in Christifideles Laici (ยง38): 'Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.'...

"Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) issued a 'doctrinal note' stressing that: 'A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government, but the voting booth as well.'"

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