Informed Voting Matters- Third Focus

Written on: August 29, 2020

In February, we provided you with a talk Bishop McElroy of San Diego, delivered at the University of San Diego entitled, “Conscience, Candidates and Discipleship in Voting.” Bishop McElroy’s talk looks at the moral act of voting and lays the groundwork for development of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. bishops’ quadrennial document on voting. He points out that “. . . faithful voting involves careful consideration of a candidate’s ability to advance the common good.”

In evaluating candidates, he invites us to consider the following criteria:

Opportunity – will a candidate be likely to advance a particular issue. How likely will she or he be to make changes in key areas to promote the common good?

Competence-is the candidate competent to carry out her or his duties effectively to advance the common good?

Character-especially in a climate of political divisions and degradation in public life, character is more important than ever.

Bishop McElroy also identifies ten “salient goals” that should be kept in mind as we look to the 2020 election:

The promotion of a culture and legal structures that protect  life; The reversal of climate change that threatens the future of humanity, especially the poor and the marginalized; Policies that safeguard the rights of immigrants and refugees; Laws that protect the aged, the ill, and the disabled; Vigorous opposition to racism in every form; The provision of work and the protection of workers’ rights;  Systematic efforts to fight poverty and egregious inequalities of wealth; Policies that promote marriage and family; Substantial movement toward universal nuclear disarmament; The protection of religious liberty.

Here are some things we can do to ready ourselves to be well informed voters:

Research the stands of candidates for elective office on each of Bishop McElroy’s salient issues; Invite friends and family to reflect on the moral dimensions of voting by sharing with them the short YouTube video on Bishop McElroy’s talk; Include a short quote from the talk in the signature line of your emails; Participate in the Vote Forward project; Read and reflect on Bishop McElroy’s entire presentation and watch the accompanying video.

Finally, it is good to recall Cardinal Bernadin’s famous 1983 lecture at Fordham University where he introduced the “seamless garment” approach to life issues, a metaphor for a consistent ethic of life. It formed a framework that links all issues in which life is threatened, from womb to tomb, (a phrase we often hear in the prayer of the faithful at Mass and which many hear simply as an anti-abortion prayer). His presentation introduced a new way of viewing moral living which emphasized the sacredness of all life – the unborn, the poor, the elderly and the environment as interrelated and intertwined. Today science has shed its light on the interconnectedness of all things. Today, in the anti-immigration and violent racism atmosphere, we must add to that list: refugees, Black Lives, LGBTQ and women.

As Catholics, we are led to raise questions for political life other than those that concentrate on individual, material well-being. Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens the dignity of every human life. Faithful Citizenship #91

We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.” – Pope Francis, 9/16/13


Following these two quotes, can there be any doubt that informed voting matters?


Life is far too complex to be a one issue voter.


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