Final Notes Before You Vote

Final Notes Before You Vote November 5, 2016

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Please read this statement from the most reverend Bishop Robert McElroy:

Catholic teaching points to the importance of several major issues in this presidential election year: abortion, poverty and economic justice, the environment, euthanasia, immigration, religious liberty, and solidarity within society. This final issue of solidarity has a particular importance at this moment because the very democratic impulse which is the foundation for our national unity is being eroded by partisan venom and personal attack.

In this environment, it is vital that all institutions in our nation participate in discussions about the election with civility and balance. It is particularly vital that religious communities do so.

This duty has been violated by one of our parishes, and thus it is essential to make clear:

  • It is contrary to Catholic teaching to state that voting for a Democrat or Republican automatically condemns the voter to hell;
  • It is contrary to Catholic faith to state that gun control legislation is a form of slavery;
  • It is contrary to Catholic faith to fan the flames of hatred against Muslims or any religious group.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a comprehensive statement on the substantive implications of Catholic faith for the current election.

It can be accessed at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm. I urge all Catholics to consult these teachings, pray about the vote that you are going to make, and then in conscience select the candidates whom you are going to vote for in this very difficult year.

Have you got that, entire United States?

If you are Catholic, it is not a sin to vote for a Republican. It would be a sin to vote for a Republican candidate if you voted for him BECAUSE OF a grave sin the candidate supports, such as murdering civilians or torture. You are casting a vote in support of grave matter and yourself committing grave matter, in that case. If you vote for them IN SPITE OF the sins they support because you have proportionate reason, such as because of the good you think they will accomplish, you incur no guilt.

If you are Catholic, it is not a sin to vote for a Democrat. It would be a sin to vote for a Democratic candidate if you voted for her BECAUSE OF her support for a grave sin, such as abortion. In that case, you would be supporting her grave sin and sinning gravely yourself. If you vote for them IN SPITE OF the sins they support because you have proportionate reason, such as because of the good you think they will accomplish, you incur no guilt.

If you are Catholic, it is not a sin to vote for a third-party candidate such as the American Solidarity Party’s Mike Maturen, the green party’s Jill Stein, the libertarian party’s Gary Johnson, the independent Joe Schriner, or the other independent Joe Exotic. It would be a sin if you voted for any of these fine people because of a sin in their party platforms. It would not be a sin to vote for them because of the good you think they might accomplish, with proportionate reason.

It would also not be a sin not to pause for a moment and watch the bizarre weirdness that is Joe Exotic’s official campaign ad, but why wouldn’t you? Unless you’re offended by swearing, because he does quite a bit.

Getting back to graver matters for the moment, if you tell someone they’re in mortal sin because of their vote, you’re not telling the truth. First of all because you cannot know the state of a person’s mind at the time they pull the lever in the voting booth, and mortal sin always requires full consent. Secondly, because it’s not grave matter to vote a certain way so long as you’re not voting a certain way because you support a sin. If someone walked up to you after Mass at the doughnut social and said “I voted for Joe Exotic because he’s pro-abortion,” you would know they committed grave matter. You would not know that they were in mortal sin, however, because you wouldn’t know their state of mind at the time. If you told them they were, you would be lying. If you spoke cruelly to them about what you presumed to be their mortal sin, you would be sinning against charity. If you told your neighbor that they had sinned, you’d be guilty of calumny.

And guess what? Being in an election year does not suspend God’s laws against lying, calumny or lack of charity. So, you’d be sinning. If you’ve done that, you should repent.

If you’ve been told it’s a sin to vote for a certain political party, be at peace. The Church has no political party. Our kingdom is not of this world. We hope for the very best we can, and we use our prudence to make an informed and wise decision. Good luck with that this time around, honestly.

Let’s keep these things in mind over the next few days.

(image via pixabay)

 

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