Catholics Obliged to Vote?
husband’s family, which immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, does
not vote. They are not even registered. They consider all politicians corrupt and
unwilling to follow through with their promises if elected. Thus, they think it
is better not to vote.
I believe that as American Catholics
we have a moral obligation to vote. I think we should try to vote for candidates
who support life and rights for the unborn, poor and uneducated.
I believe we should go to the polls
and vote for candidates whom we feel have the best moral background and support
Christian ethics. Is there any Catholic document which supports my opinion?
agree with your basic position wholeheartedly. Saying that all politicians are corrupt
is simply not true while encouraging the very corruption it deplores.
If your in-laws pay taxes, shouldn’t
they accept some responsibility for selecting the legislators who assess them and
determine how the money is spent?
In 1965 the bishops at Vatican II approved
the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which says: “The
Council exhorts Christians, as citizens of both cities, to perform their duties faithfully
in the spirit of the Gospel.
“It is a mistake to think that, because
we have here no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come [Hebrews 13:14],
we are entitled to evade our earthly responsibilities; this is to forget that because
of our faith we are all the more bound to fulfill these responsibilities according
to each one’s vocation” [see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Ephesians 4:28] (#43).
The bishops call for avoiding a “pernicious
opposition between professional and social activity on the one hand and religious
life on the other” (#43). They point out that Christians who shirk their temporal
duties shirk their duties toward their neighbors, neglect God and endanger their
Last year the Catholic bishops in the
United States issued Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium,
a pastoral statement on voting and the political process. They wrote:
“In the Catholic tradition, responsible
citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation.
Every believer is called to faithful citizenship, to become an informed, active and
responsible participant in the political process.”
You can find this document at www.nccbuscc.org/faithfulcitizenship.
Ordering information is available there.
A condensed version of this document,
Citizens” (C0300), is available from Catholic
Update. Bulk copies of this condensed version can be ordered at www.AmericanCatholic.org or
Have you rejected the idea of voting
for any non-Christian political candidate? I hope not. The person best able to promote
the common good of society in a particular elective office may or may not be a baptized
I Vote for the Pro-life Candidate?
is the moral responsibility of a Catholic voting? Let’s assume one candidate’s voting
record shows that he or she supports abortion in general, including partial-birth
abortion. Let’s assume the other candidate is definitely pro-life and a very conservative
If a Catholic votes for a candidate who supports abortion, saying that supporting
one party is crucial, is that sinful? If so, what kind of sin?
moral teaching says that Catholic voters should consider a wide range of issues when
deciding for whom they will vote.
As I mentioned earlier in this column,
the administrative board of the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1999 issued Faithful
Citizenship, a statement on political responsibility.
Speaking for and to Catholics in this
country, the bishops wrote: “Our moral framework does not easily fit the categories
of right or left, Democrat or Republican. Our responsibility is to measure every
party and platform by how its agenda touches human life and dignity.”
Later in the same document they state: “As
bishops, we do not seek the formation of a religious voting bloc, nor do we wish
to instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates.
We hope that voters will examine the position of candidates on the full range of
issues, as well as on their personal integrity, philosophy and performance.
“We are convinced that a consistent ethic
of life should be the moral framework from which to address all issues in the political
arena. We urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign
rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle,
not simply party affiliation or mere self-interest.”
They also wrote, “We believe that every
human life is sacred from conception to natural death; that people are more important
than things; and that the measure of every institution is whether or not it enhances
the life and dignity of the human person.”
Ordering information about this document
and a condensation of it are given above.
the Litany of the Saints, we pray to “all the angels and the saints.” Angels and
saints are two different groups. Angels have no bodies. Saints are humans who achieved
a high level of perfection and are role models for other humans. Why do we have
a parish called St. Michael the Archangel?
and humans have this in common: They have a free will which they can use wisely (in
a saintly way) or not wisely (as Lucifer and anyone in hell did).
Holiness is the wise and generous use
of one’s freedom in accord with God’s plan. Thus, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches
have seen no problem with invoking angels and archangels as patrons of persons, places
Can't They Attend?
am a 37-year-old married man with two children. I was raised Catholic and married
a Methodist woman 15 years ago. We are raising our children Methodist and attend
church every Sunday.
Whenever my parents visit for a weekend,
they refuse to come to the Methodist church, saying, “It is a sin for a Catholic
to set foot in a non-Catholic church.”
My son will soon be confirmed in our
church, and I would like my parents to be there to share the experience. I find
it difficult to accept the notion that God forbids Catholics to attend services
of other Christians, especially in the spirit of family.
are not forbidden to attend services in other churches, although that was very much
discouraged before 1965.
Saying that they cannot come to your
church may be your parents’ way of expressing their discomfort with your decision
to raise your children in the Methodist Church.
If they follow through on not attending
your son’s Confirmation, however, I am afraid they may create bigger problems for
themselves if any of their grandchildren marries someone in a ceremony not held in
a Catholic church.
You may want to raise this issue with
them. Their disagreement with a decision made by you and your wife should not penalize
Novena to St. Francis?
want to make a novena before the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4). Are
there any traditional or frequently used ones? Or do I simply use prayers of my choice
for nine days?
Press (Quincy, Illinois) advertises a 64-page booklet entitled Novena to St. Francis.
It costs $1.25 plus shipping and handling. You can place your order at www.quincy.edu/fpress.
You can make a novena using this booklet,
your own prayers or ones which Francis wrote. Several publishers have books of those
prayers. Consult your nearest Catholic bookstore or St.
Francis Bookshop in Cincinnati, Ohio (1-800-241-6392).
Can I Avoid Being Hurt?
have been in abusive relationships for much of my life. I seem to pick the same
type of partners and am constantly being hurt. What can I do differently?
were created in God’s image and likeness. Saying, “I deserve better than the kinds
of relationships I have had” may be the best start you can make. If you respect yourself,
other people will also.
Your diocesan Catholic Charities office
can help you contact a professional counselor with whom you can discuss this situation.
If you have a question for Father Pat, please submit it here.
Include your street address for personal replies enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, please. Some answer material must be
mailed since it is not available in digital form. You can still send questions to: Ask a Franciscan, 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.