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Called to Vote, to Participate in Political Life

The Church tells us “by reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.” The laity participates in them in a special way so as to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated so that they may always be affected according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator.

The initiatives of lay Christians are necessary for matters involving discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element in the life of the Church.

votedLay believers are in the front line of Church life, for them the Church is the animating principal of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever clear consciousness not only of belong to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say the community of the Faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and the bishops in communion with them. They are the Church.

This brings us to the looming crucial mid term elections in November. Now is a good time to be reminded of our important duty as Catholics to participate in playing a

role in the governance of our troubled country by voting according to our conscience as Catholics! There can be no excuse not to vote, and also also every Catholic is called, in as much as possible, to participate one way or another in the political life of our country. Our country began as a democratic republic whose founding documents are based on the natural law found in the mind and heart of every man and woman—instilled there by God Himself. They are based on Christian Roots from what was once known as the West or Christendom! Religious liberty is our most precious freedom and comes not from the State, but from God Himself.

The Catechism of the Church is very clear on this point. Faced with a conscious moral choice, one can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason, and the divine law, or on the other hand, make an erroneous judgment that departs from divine law.

The Church helps us by forming our conscience according to the teachings of the Church on matters revealed in Scripture, the Commandments and the Natural Law written in our mind and heart. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as by the virtue of prudence and the advice of competent people.

Man has the right to act in freedom, he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience, especially in religious matters which are increasingly under attack on every level of our government. In these cases we should particularly remember the roles that “one can never do evil so that good may result from it” and the Golden Rule “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, so you must do unto them.”

As we all are aware of, we are living in a country that is in many no longer Christian at all—indeed could be considered Pagan or atheist. Think of abortion on demand, divorce and remarriage, open homosexuality, curtailment of Religious liberty, the pervasive presence of pornography in our culture: the list could go on.

But before we get depressed, lets remember that we still have a vote and, happily, there are many Christian voters who can and will vote according to their well-formed consciences. Many of us have recourse to the voter guides put together by our local dioceses.

I urge you to get involved and stay involved. This is a culture war and it is ours to win. May God’s will be done; we may not be crusaders fighting in battle, but our enemies are just as dangerous.

Fr. C. J. McCloskey III, S.T.D. is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC. He is perhaps best known for guiding into the Church such luminaries as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Lawrence Kudlow, Robert Novak, Judge Robert Bork, and Senator Sam Brownback. His articles, reviews, and doctoral thesis have been published in major Catholic and secular periodicals. He is co-author (with Russell Shaw) of Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith (Ignatius Press) and the co-editor of "The Essential Belloc" (St. Benedict's Press).
Articles by Fr. McCloskey:

  • mollysdad

    Since when can you vote your way out of the culture of death?

  • I_M_Forman

    Voting is the closest thing to a remedy we have! Ignore it and the Culture of Death will claim a mandate!

  • henryclemens

    Good points about civic responsibility, But actually our country didn’t begin as all that much of a democratic republic. And as for “There can be no excuse not to vote.” Oh, yes there can. I get a ballot three pages long full of names I don’t know and initiatives difficult to understand. If I don’t know for whom to vote based on more knowledge than I often have the time to acquire, better to leave it blank than dilute the quality of the vote with a guess.

    One could, of course, vote the party line, but I have been involved a bit in politics, and I assure you, the party line is no guarantee of the intellectual (or even perhaps ordinary) honesty and competence of a candidate. And sometimes i won’t vote for one (principled objection to his party’s stand on an important issue), but my party’s candidate is clearly unqualified. Voting in this Republic is a privilege now extended to everyone but felons and the mad. Strike “and the mad.” Far more people vote than should. But of course those who refrain, knowing they are not qualified, are probably ceteris paribus more qualified than all the people hustled to the polls on the grounds that everybody ought to vote.

    And if temporal affairs “by their special vocation” belong to the laity, then perhaps there should be some hesitation about the diocese putting out a voting guide? Or, at least, the guide should contain in its prose a genuflection by the clergy towards that special vocation which they do not have? To be taken cum grano salis, as the Romans said? Ah, the conundrums of life– and politics.

  • Consecrate Russia

    Christ is a King and Our Lady is a Queen. Thy Democracy Come? No. Thy Kingdom Come. Fr. John is wrong. Democracy comes from freemasonry. In Revelation, democracry is the Beast coming from the sea – the sea is shifting opinion of the demos. Christ is a King and Our Lady of Fatima wears a crown.Time for the pope to obey and consecrate Russia while Babylon falls.

  • HartPonder

    And what is God’s will? As we do our good works of the Gospel awaiting Christ’s return(Matthew 25:31-46), let us not forget what God ultimately has in store for the nations of the earth (Daniel 2:44, John 17:14,15, Romans 12:2). I love our Faith’s world view to salvation, as reflected in our Creed. Truly the Good News!

    • dougpruner

      Good catch, as far as it goes. If we pray for God’s kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven”, do we want to be found associated with an elected official when it arrives? A related scripture is Ps 37:29- good news indeed!

  • Allan Daniel

    Voting is merely a fantasy of power given to us by those who hold real power. Voting in America is an opiate allowed the people to insure their passive stupidity in case they have not been dumbed down enough by television, the internet, popular movies, pornography, newly legal drugs, and perpetual mindless texting. Can any Catholic argue that some objective good was accomplished by voting? Two seasons of Obama? Decades of abortion? Flip-the-switch for wholesale pornography? Political corruption? I don’t believe any of those fit the definition of good. The only real power we have is prayer and setting our lives to obey the commands of God. Voting is a distraction that inclines us away from true power.

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    On Staten Island our choice for Congress is a federally indicted, on multiple counts, Republican or a pro choice Democrat. I do not feel morally obligated to choose either.