Contributor: Bill Moore
I’m a Catholic and I vote. I learned the value of both from my parents. They usually voted Democratic, but had good friends in both parties and of different faiths. Listening from the top of the stairs when Mom and Dad entertained friends for dinner or cards in the dining room, we overheard many lively discussions on faith and politics.
So I’ve long thought of voting and politics as something good, a way we take care of one another, as Wy Spano never tires of saying. And no one has ever called me a sinner for voting for one candidate or another. Lately, though, there have been news reports of Catholic priests, and even a bishop, saying you can’t be Catholic and vote for Democrats, and it’s a mortal sin. I don’t think most Catholics believe that or that the broader Church hierarchy would approve. But it is troubling and could discourage some believers from voting.
An essay by John Carr in the current issue of the Jesuit magazine America discusses how he is trying to apply the principles of his Catholic faith in the current election (https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2020/09/17/catholic-biden-trump-faithful-citizenship-election). He has been a long-time advisor to Catholic Bishops on matters of social justice and peace and calls himself “a pro-life, social justice, consistent-ethic Catholic.” In his essay, he confronts the reality that neither the Republican nor Democratic party platforms reflect the full framework of Catholic teaching, and both presidential candidates are committed to policies that violate Catholic moral principles: Biden, supporting abortion and Trump promoting racism and anti-immigrant policies. Carr concludes:
"When neither party’s platform reflects the full framework of Catholic teaching, and when both candidates are committed to policies that violate Catholic moral principles, I will follow my conscience. I will exercise my prudential judgment to vote for the candidate who has the character, integrity and competence to serve; who will seek the common good and protect our democratic institutions; and who will do the least harm and the most good within our political and constitutional structures. And since neither of our present options reflects a full commitment to the Gospel, I am committed to work for better choices in our politics, parties and nation.
"I will vote for Mr. Biden for what he can do to help us recover and heal, lift up those left behind, ensure health care for all and treat immigrants and refugees with respect. I will not vote for him to support his position on abortion, but in spite of it."
I hope readers will agree with John Carr’s reasoning and share his conclusion, but whether we do or not, I hope all us Catholic voters will as he urges, “reflect, discuss, engage, discern and decide; and at the same time . . . respect the consciences and choices of other Catholics. “
*What we need to do about it