College students prepare for upcoming election

Record Staff Writer

The Catholic campus ministry programs at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University recently co-sponsored a two-part series on faithful citizenship in advance of the upcoming presidential election.

The first session — which focused on conscience development — was held on Bellarmine’s campus Oct. 10. The second part of the series was held Oct. 17at the Interfaith Center on U of L’s campus and focused on Catholic social teaching concerning faithful citizenship.

At the second small group discussion Father Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky — the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops — spoke to a group of about 20 young adults regarding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document on faithful citizenship.

Father Delahanty introduced the U.S. bishops “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” document by noting that it does not offer a “voter’s guide” or a “score card” on how to vote.

“In short it calls Catholics to form their consciences and let faith be a part of that discerning,” he said.

The faithful citizenship document asks the reader four questions, Father Delahanty said. Those questions are:

  • Why does the Church teach about issues affecting public policy?
  • Who in the Church should participate in political life?
  • How does the Church help the Catholic faithful to speak about political and social questions?
  • What does the Church say about Catholic social teaching in the public square?

Father Delahanty told the group that the purpose of the document is “to get people to think about what we believe as Catholics and to form an opinion based on our conscience.”

Father Delahanty said the bishops realize that often Catholics face a difficult choice on how to vote.

“That’s why it’s important to vote on a well-formed conscience,” he said.

Sarah Fellows, the director of campus ministry at U of L, said the campus ministry programs at Louisville and Bellarmine have been partners in the past for similar discussions prior to a presidential election.

“We are always looking for ways to get our students together,” Fellows said. “It creates a different kind of excitement around it.”

Fellows said the session came about as a direct response to the students’ request for clarification on conscience development and faithful citizenship.

“At this particular point in a young adult’s life, conscience development is a key issue. To help frame that context of faith is really the point. It’s a meaningful way to reflect on what’s crucial to who they are as Catholics,” Fellows said.

For Emily Bockweg, this will be the first presidential election in which she is eligible to vote. The sophomore at the University of Louisville said she thought Father Delahanty’s talk was very informative.

“It made me think a lot. Now I have a lot more research to do before I vote,” the Burlington, Ky., native said.

Anna Peterson, a student from Bellarmine, said it was encouraging to see young people interested in important issues.

The English major completed an internship at the Diocese of Lexington earlier this year and said it was nice to “see other people learning about these issues.”

“I think some people get caught up in a single issue and don’t think twice about anything else,” Peterson said.

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