For my reflection this week, I want to take some time to encourage you to read the US Bishops document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. By now, those who are registered to vote, have received ballot information. I’ve had various conversations with friends and family about politics and I’m saddened by the thought that friendships have suffered due to differences in opinions. We are all learning in life. None of us know the answers to everything and it’s EXTREMELY important that we are mindful to call upon God’s Holy Spirit to guide our conversations, especially in times where there are differences in opinions.
We are called to be respectful and listen. Not just hear someone talking to respond but rather, listen with a heart like Jesus. “Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of vitriol”.
This writing helps us prayerfully think about politics in the real world as a Catholic. Most importantly, let us remember that prayer is the most necessary way to understand what God is calling of us. Change can happen when we allow Jesus to touch our hearts and when we acknowledge building the Kingdom of God begins here on earth.
I’ve listed some points below but you should read the document here. It’s also available in Spanish. Pray with the document before you submit your ballot. I’ve asked God every election year to send help when voting. If you’ve prayed for the same thing, take some time to read it and share it with others. Visit the website to access more resources. Spanish resources here.
- In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.
- Unfortunately, politics in our country often can be a contest of powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites, and media hype. The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.
- The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well-formed conscience.
- …Prudence shapes and informs our ability to deliberate over available alternatives, to determine what is most fitting to a specific context, and to act decisively. Exercising this virtue often requires the courage to act in defense of moral principles when making decisions about how to build a society of justice and peace.
- Catholic voters should use the framework of Catholic social teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance. It is important for all citizens “to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest” (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 33)