Election years always present both the opportunity and the grave concern that we Catholics exercise not only our right but also our duty to vote with an informed conscience. During each election cycle of presidential campaigns, the United States Bishops have reissued the document entitled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.” This year, there is a special introductory note attached to the larger document. This note is worth reading, and I offer this link so that all will read the document in full. See https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf
While the church correctly and wisely does not become partisan by endorsing particular candidates, as Archbishop, I have the responsibility to urge citizens who qualify for the privilege of voting to do so. Kentucky has a website that makes the process of registering to vote as accessible as possible. See www.GoVoteKY.com.
The introductory letter to “Forming Consciences for Faithful citizenship” begins by saying that as Catholics we bring the richness of our faith to the public square. We draw from both faith and reason as we seek to affirm the dignity of the human person and the common good of all.
It is tempting to allow one’s political party platform to dictate which church teachings are relevant as if one can become a cafeteria Catholic, who picks and chooses. In truth, our faith needs to inform the manner in which we address and embrace political platforms, not the reverse.
The introductory letter provides a long quote by Pope Francis from his encyclical “Rejoice and Be Glad” (“Gaudete et Exultate”). In number 101, he speaks of the call to holiness saying that this call requires “a firm and passionate “defense of “the innocent unborn.” He goes on to say “… equally sacred are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
Building on solid Catholic teaching expressed well by our Holy Father, the introductory letter adds, “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty.” Later in addressing the ugly sin of racism, the letter states “the wound of racism continues to fester; the bishops of the United States draws attention to this important topic in the recent pastoral letter, ‘Open Wide our Hearts.’ ”
Please register to vote and plan to vote in-person or by absentee ballot on election day. Please form your conscience well. The introductory letter to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” will provide help, even better, read the whole document. You might also find it helpful to watch three episodes of “Conversations with Archbishop Kurtz:”
- February 2020 episode #3 on civic responsibility and voting.
- September 2020 episodes #2 and #3 on the topic of racism.
- And coming up, October 2020 segment #3 on Respect Life month.
All of these episodes, with a link to past episodes, can be found at www.archlou.org/conversations.
Finally, join me in the prayer that concludes the introductory letter:
Thank you for inviting each of us to join in your work of building the kingdom of love, justice, and peace.
Draw us close to you in prayer as we discern your call for our families and communities.
Send us forth to encounter all whom you love:
Those not yet born, those in poverty, those in need of welcome.
Inspire us to respond to the call to faithful citizenship, during election season and beyond.
Help us to imitate your charity and compassion and to serve as models of loving dialogue.
Teach us to treat others with respect, even when we disagree, and seek to share your love and mercy.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.