CHARLESTON—The South Carolina Catholic Conference has released a brief voters’ guide to help people prepare for the state’s presidential primaries on Feb. 20 (Republican ) and Feb. 27 (Democrat).
The flyer was sent to parishes in the Diocese of Charleston and is titled: “Not liberal. Not conservative. Simply Catholic.” It states that Catholics have a baptismal commitment to bear public witness to Christian values, and have a serious moral obligation to vote.
Catholic conference directors from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina developed this concise version of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, the teaching document on political responsibility developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And like the document, it does not tell Catholics for whom they should vote, just how.
“We will not tell you who to vote for because Jesus Christ is not running,” said Michael Acquilano, director of the South Carolina Catholic Conference. “No candidate is perfect on all issues. It is up to the individual to discern what is appropriate for our nation at this time.”
The flyer highlights the important issues that must be considered when choosing a candidate.
The Right to Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Innocent human life is destroyed by abortion, euthanasia, and “fertility treatments” such as in-vitro fertilization, experimentation using stem cells from human embryos, and cloning to manufacture human body parts. Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life also leads us to oppose the death penalty, genocide, torture, unjust wars, and economic policies that ignore the needs of the poor and vulnerable.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The family, which emerges from marriage between a man and a woman, is the original and basic unit of society. Social and economic policies should work to strengthen the family rather than weaken it.
Rights and Responsibilities
Every human being has the right to life and to religious freedom. Everyone has a right to refuse to participate in actions contrary to one’s religious beliefs and to share and defend one’s creed and moral principles in the public forum. Everyone has the right and duty to participate fully in all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
We must have special concern and charity toward the unborn, persons with disabilities, the dying, refugees, long-term unemployed, prisoners, and all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond. Today, the situation of immigrant workers is especially urgent.
Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Economic justice includes the opportunity for dignified work at wages sufficient to support a family, workplace safety, and the right to take time for religious observances. Workers also have the duty to provide a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.
Loving our neighbor has global dimensions and requires us to eradicate racism and address the extreme poverty and disease plaguing so much of the world. We are called to welcome the stranger among us, including immigrants seeking work, a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families. We are called to promote peace and pursue justice.
Caring for God’s Creation
As stewards, not owners, of the earth, people have an obligation to cherish and care for the environment. The earth yields forth many resources needed for human flourishing, especially energy and the capacity to produce food. These precious resources must be used prudently, fairly, safely, and with a constant concern for future generations.
The document also states that:
- Issues that directly affect human lives, such as abortion and euthanasia, are fundamental and demand serious consideration.
- Our Constitution heralds religious liberty in the First Amendment, yet increasingly people of faith are having to fight to retain this basic right.
- Our nation has redefined marriage. The marriage of a man and a woman is the foundation of the family and an essential core element of a flourishing society.
- The growing disparity between rich and poor means most of the world’s resources are in the hands of a small percentage of its people.
The federal budget is a moral document and we prioritize the poorest and most vulnerable among us.
- The millions of undocumented persons living in the United States deserve our compassion. Our immigration system is broken, and we need a humane solution to it.
- War, terror, and violence have caused thousands of lost lives. We must work for just solutions to conflict in the Holy Land, throughout the Middle East, and beyond.
The Catholic Conference statement also suggests ways for people to form their consciences and participate in civic life.
- Be true to the teachings of the Church. Read Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, teachings from the Holy See, and the statements of our bishops. Read “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” at www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
We need to be sure that our reasoning and judgments are well-grounded in our faith.
- Stay well-informed about issues through judicious and reasoned engagement with the immense world of information in the 21st century.
Just as all issues are not equal, all sources are not equal. For example, an individual’s blog, while potentially very insightful, may not have the same fidelity to factual truth as our media sources that hold themselves to professional standards of journalistic ethics, imperfect though they are.
- Remain in contact with our representatives in local, state, and federal government. Our responsibility to form our consciences leads to an obligation to be active citizens.
- Engage in reasoned, compassionate, and loving dialogue with others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, about the issues and choices that we are facing as a nation. Remember that we are all called first to witness the Gospel, and through that witness, to share our social teaching to highlight the moral dimensions of issues, and to participate in debate on public policy.
To learn more, visit www.sccatholicconference.org.