Next Tuesday, November 7, 2023, is Election Day in the United States. I wanted to take this opportunity to share guidance from the Catholic Church concerning the criteria for candidates based on our faith. While I recognize everyone may not agree with any or all of this criteria, this is the guidance that the Church puts forth.
Does my vote even matter?
In a word, YES! The right for US citizens to vote is a constitutional right, and the Church believes that “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.”
“Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.”
So, yes you should vote and let your voice be heard. Your vote is especially important these days with the US as fractured politically as it is so please make your plan to vote in the 2023 elections. Please also be aware of any referendums on the ballot as well. These may be as important, if not more than the candidates that you are choosing. Do your research and go into the voting booth as prepared as possible.
Guidance from the Church on voting
There are five moral and ethical principles that as Catholics are not negotiable in relation to selecting a political candidate. As I said earlier, you may not agree with these five areas and for those that you struggle with, I encourage you to take to prayer:
- Respect for Life – the belief that all people hold value and are God’s children. Candidates that support life and the dignity of life meet this requirement:
- Anti-death penalty
- Anti-Human Cloning
- Marriage and Family – Candidates positions on issues related to marriage, family, and sexual ethics are important considerations:
- Marriage is defined by the Church as between one man and one woman. I realize this is a “hot button” topic, but this is what the Church teaches. This does not mean that gays are loved any less by the Church; it means that marriage is seen as a way to cooperate with God’s plan by bringing children into the world and raising them in the faith.
- Religious Freedom – The Church promotes religious freedom and the protection of conscience rights. Candidates who support the Church’s position meet this requirement
- Social Justice – Candidates who support policies that work to lift people out of poverty, address inequality, work for the unemployed, and taking care of the marginalized; and all issues related to the common good meet this requirement.
- Solidarity and Subsidiary – Candidates who promote policies encouraging solidarity with the marginalized and support decision making at the local levels meet this requirement.
What if none of the candidates meet these requirements?
In today’s political landscape this is a very real possibility and presents a challenge for Catholic voters. The Church teaches us to be prudent, and to prioritize the most important issues to us when in the voting booth. If both candidates support gay marriage as an example, is that your highest priority or are there other priorities that one candidate has over another? What about the candidates character, their qualifications, and their ability to get things done to positively impact people? There are many attributes to consider and reviewing the candidates and their positions ahead of time and discern who is the right candidate for you before you get into the voting booth.
I urge you to make informed decisions that are guided by your faith and your conscience. Voting is a constitutional right explicitly given to American citizens and I ask you to not take this lightly.