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CatholicVote_600x300How should Catholics vote? The answer to this question is more complex than just choosing one political party or one political issue. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides guidelines for us in the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”

It is the intention of the voter — not the platform or opinions of the candidate — that determines whether or not the voter is “guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil.”

1: Form Your Conscience

We must have the “desire to embrace goodness and truth,” rather than allowing the conscience to be formed by our passionate attachments.

2: Vote Your Conscience

This does not mean that the conscience allows us to “justify doing whatever we want.” Rather, the conscience requires “serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truths of our faith.”

3: PROMOTE THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

A voter needs to consider issues, platforms and candidates that promote the dignity of the human person as prime importance (regardless of one’s personal interests).

4: AS CATHOLICS WE ARE NOT SINGLE ISSUE VOTERS

A voter should not favor a candidate based on one single issue. At the same time, “if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

5: CONSIDER POLICY PLATFORMS AND CHARACTER

Not only must voters consider the policy platforms of candidates, but “a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue” must also be considered.

6: EMBRACE THE “ART OF POSSIBLE”

It is acceptable to vote for a candidate who is unable to overturn unjust laws immediately. In such cases, it is acceptable to support legislation or a candidate that is able to “restore justice only partially or gradually” through “the art of the possible.”

7: UNDERSTAND THERE IS NO PERFECT CHOICE

Sometimes all candidates in a given race hold personal opinions or offer policy platforms that are not entirely in harmony with Catholic social and moral teachings — or, even worse, stand in opposition to them. In such cases in which “a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position.”

It is acceptable, however, not to vote for anyone when all candidates fail to offer platforms that promote the sacredness of human life.

To gain a stronger understanding of the topic, view the entire document online for free:

Visit: usccb.org

Search: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”

About the Author — Dr. Stuart Squires

Dr. Stuart Squires is an associate professor of Theology, and associate director of the Nesti Center for Faith and Culture. He earned his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America, his M.A. from the University of Chicago, and his B.A. from DePaul University. He has published a book with Wipf and Stock titled The Pelagian Controversy: An Introduction to the Enemies of Grace and the Conspiracy of Lost Souls.

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