Catholic Social Teaching Guides My Vote

Catholic Social Teaching Guides My Vote November 6, 2023

Catholic Social Teaching (CST) has formed my worldview and therefore guides me when voting.

Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

The Catholic Church leadership has written documents on social teaching since the Industrial Revolution. Because the majority of Catholics will not read the many writings, the bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) identified seven themes that capture the essential elements of CST.

1. The life and dignity of the human person are at the heart of the other six themes. They directly address life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, using fetal stem cells for research, and issues of war and peace

2. The call to family, community, and participation speaks to how we organize our society economically, politically, and legally. Each person should be able to participate in the community and also have a responsibility to the community. Marriage and families are key components of the community.

3. Rights and Responsibilities Human rights must be respected and responsibilities must be kept so that everyone can thrive.

4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable The way a society treats the poor and most vulnerable members in its midst is a moral test. Their needs must come first.

5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers People do not serve the economy; it is the other way around. Work must be a way people can participate in God’s creation. People have a right to just wages, private property, unions, and economic initiatives.

6. Solidarity communicates the truth that all people belong to the human family. Love of neighbor has tangible and international consequences. Promoting justice and peace is essential.

7. Care for God’s Creation teaches that all people are stewards of God’s creation. We must treat God’s world and the people in it with love and care.

Applying Catholic Social Teaching to a Real Election

As I vote, I do not go through these themes as a list but rather find that they have shaped my worldview.

When I read that a candidate complains about various taxes used to promote health and care for the environment, I immediately start reading about his or her opponent. If a person suggests that immigration is a problem, I also read about the person running opposed. This does not mean that I may find other reasons to vote for the first candidate. It just means that talking that way about the earth or people turns me off.

The Election in the State of Washington

A few small American flags and buttons that remind Americans to vote.
As Americans vote on election day, they each use their respective value systems to choose candidates. Courtesy of cottonbro studios and

This Fall, in the state of Washington, the only state-wide contests involve judges.At the county level, we have county and city council positions, races for port commissioner, elected roles for school districts, fire districts, park and recreation, water and sewer. This is how I thought through a few races.

County Council

In one race, I see a police officer running against a teacher. The police officer is interested in law and order. The teacher is concerned, among other things, with traffic problems and infrastructure. She has an issue with affordable housing. I will likely go to her website to figure out exactly what that issue is. Affordable housing in our area is very important because our area has grown rapidly and the housing is very expensive. The option for the poor and vulnerable is part of why I have an interest in affordable housing.

Port Commissioner

My city has a port so we vote for several commissioner positions. In this case, a lawyer and current commissioner is running against a fighter pilot from the US Navy. In the end, I am voting for the lawyer because she has participated in good economic projects and reduced vessel noise to help endangered orca whales. She has also worked with schools to prepare the future labor force for the port. I did not find anything that the fighter pilot said with which I disagreed. I just liked the multifaceted approach to the position that the lawyer has taken. Preparing high school students to work at the port falls under “the dignity of work and the rights of workers,” becasue many of the jobs have family-supporting wages. I also think that taking the tough conditions faced by orca whales falls under “care for God’s creation.”

City Council

Do you ever read through the statements from all of the persons who want to be president of the United States? Some focus on one issue almost exclusively. I see this happening in a council position race. While I like some of this candidate’s ideas, I think that his opponent has more qualifications and a better approach to multiple issues.

People Vote with Their Priorities and Concerns in Mind

If we underlined the factors that led us to vote for one candidate or one issue, we might learn more about ourselves than we would think. In the County Council race, I find that my interest in affordable housing is causing me to be undecided until I research more about the teacher’s concerns. In the Port Commissioner race, I identified the lawyer’s interest in high school students and orca whales in addition to the economic improvements. In the City Council race, one candidate appeared interested in a few issues whereas I think that such a candidate requires a more comprehensive plan like the encumbent.

Catholic Social Teaching has been a helpful framework that has shaped the worldview I approach when making decisions such as voting

Browse Our Archives