Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Responsible citizenship is a virtue

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vote-pro-life-005-web“Both [major] candidates for president are seen as having such serious flaws as to lead some people to wonder if they can vote for either candidate of the two major parties or if they should skip voting in this year’s election. In the end, people must follow their consciences, but they should also take care to form their consciences properly and make informed decisions.

In this regard, the Catholic bishops of the United States provide guidance in their document ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’ saying, ‘In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation’ (13). This reflects the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which reminds us, ‘It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. … As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life’ (1913-1915).

The phrase ‘as far as possible’ indicates that there may be legitimate limits to our active participation in public life. For example, priests do not normally hold public offices in the civic sphere. Voters may also legitimately conclude in conscience that they cannot vote for either candidate of the two major political parties. In such cases, voters in most jurisdictions can write in the name of a candidate of their choosing. In all cases, voters can skip voting for a particular office, but still vote for other offices on the ballot. … The real figure to whom we should configure ourselves is Jesus Christ. Moreover, Jesus Christ is not an option in the sense of being optional. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are called to live lives of ordinary virtue and heroic, saintly holiness in imitation of Christ, as intentional, dedicated and faithful disciples of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” — Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois

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