As we approach the Presidential elections and other elections, our ultimate guide in selecting the candidates for whom we cast our vote should be first and foremost Divine truth and the defined teaching of our Catholic Church. Our selection of the candidate for the top office of our nation should be based on biblical and moral principles explained to us by our Catholic Church, and not primarily on party platforms or party affiliation. Sadly, many Catholics put party affiliation and party platform ahead of even the Divine truths that are given to us by God in the Bible and sacred Tradition, and above the defined teaching of our Catholic Church on some specific moral issues.
As a nation and as a Church, we are facing unprecedented challenges that threaten to undermine the integrity of our moral, social, political life and foundational principles of society, and we are letting mere human judgments and laws become the ultimate standards that guide us for voting for political candidates and for formulating laws and policies instead of Divine laws and doctrines of our Catholic Church. We should let our selection of government leaders on all issues be guided by the social justice teaching of our Catholic Church.
To guide us in the political selection of the person that we choose as our President, we must seriously ask ourselves which candidate’s political position is most in accord with Divine truth and defined teaching of our Catholic Church. The socio-political-economic issues before us must be analyzed in the moral framework of these two guiding principles. Guided by these two principles, I present to you the issues that Catholic voters and other people of good will must take into account as they cast their votes.
The number one issue that should guide our vote for the President of our country is our understanding and belief that the unborn human life, from the first moment of conception, is true human life, sacred because it is stamped with the very image and likeness of God and that direct abortion is seriously immoral and a crime. Based on the latest study of embryology and several passages of Sacred Scripture, the Catholic Church holds that a new human being begins at conception, and that this human life must be given the highest respect and protection through pregnancy and throughout the life of this new person until the natural end of life as determined by God. Simply said, our Catholic Church teaches that we are pro-life at every stage of life—from the womb to the tomb. Catholics need to seriously consider which Presidential candidate will do the most to show respect for the precious unborn, to work to overcome abortion, and provide protection for this human life throughout pregnancy and when the new human person is born. Pope John Paul II outlined in his magnificent Gospel of Life, the defined teaching of the Catholic Church as regards the precious life of the unborn and the grave evil of abortion, which is a crime.
A major critical life issue that must be taken into account as one casts a Presidential vote is the issue of the present Administration wanting us to fulfill the HHS mandate that would force Catholics and other Christians to support health care insurance plans to cover practices of contraception, sterilization, and the providing of abortion-inducing drugs. The United States Catholic Bishops have told our President that we cannot and will not comply with this mandate as it is a violation of freedom of religion given to us by the First Amendment, and a serious moral violation of conscience—expecting us as followers of Christ to pay for immoral practices that we hold to be gravely evil and sinful. In our pluralistic democracy, we should never formulate laws that would force individuals to violate their consciences. Freedom of conscience rests on the principle that there is a world of difference between a law that makes me do something I do not want to do, and a law that makes me do something I have an obligation not to do. The latter is an assault on our moral integrity. The mandate must be considered in this context.
Another integrally related issue to this important principle about when life begins is the Divine teaching given by God in the Bible as regards how we understand the traditional meaning of marriage, from which new life comes. The critical question is which candidates uphold the teaching on marriage that comes from God? There are many today who want to change the Biblical and constant Judeo-Christian teaching about marriage. From the Bible it is clear, and from the constant teaching of our Catholic Church, that a true marriage can only be between a man and a woman in the sacred union of matrimony. The idea that marriage should only be defined as a sacred and lifelong covenant between a man and a woman is under serious attack in our times. Sadly, there is a strong movement in our country approved by many present government officials who are using their political office to promote human laws that would give approval to so-called marriages between the same sexes. This is a very critical issue, and Catholics need to study very carefully the Catholic teaching that is involved here. Which candidate will do the most to preserve the Biblical and the constant traditional understanding of marriage as taught by our Catholic Church? God has clearly determined that marriage can only be between a man and woman, and Sacred Scripture teaches that homosexual acts (same-sex marriages) are immoral and bring about Divine condemnation. No President, no government, no mere human being is authorized to change the Divine meaning of marriage.
It needs to be stated very clearly as we enter the Presidential election process that we Catholics are pro-life at every stage of human life, beginning at conception and until that life is ended as determined by God. Respect for the sacredness of the unborn and the traditional understanding of marriage are central and foundational issues that a Catholic must take into account in voting for a Presidential candidate. Which Presidential candidate will uphold the Divine truth and the defined teaching of the Catholic Church about these critical basic issues and other important life issues that affect the quality and holiness of human life?
Linked to these foundational life issues is euthanasia and assisted suicide. Based on Scripture, the Catholic Church teaches that only God is the master of life and no human being can usurp the Divine authority as when human life should end. In light of Church teaching, consider carefully the position of political candidates on this issue.
Besides the issue of abortion, freedom of liberty, and the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and euthanasia, there are other vital life issues that need to be looked at very carefully, and we must study how these issues are grounded in Scriptural teaching about the human person and the constant social teaching of our beautiful Catholic Church. Catholics are pro-life at every stage of life, and we must be concerned about respect for human life as regards issues of economy, poverty, employment, health, education, housing, racism, peace and environment, and the death penalty.
After considering the issues of the sacredness of the unborn, of abortion and the Divine understanding of marriage and religious liberty, surely in this election year much will be discussed and debated about the economy and the effects that it has on the human person. In the economic system, it should always be stressed that the human person is pre-eminent and not primarily motives for profit and financial gain. At the present time, as we approach the Presidential election, our country is facing critical economic issues. Some 14 million are unemployed, and millions more are underemployed. More than 15 million families live in poverty in our country, the land of prosperity and opportunity. Our President and elected government leaders must assist and protect the poor and jobless as they seek to promote economic growth and fiscal responsibility. The present economic failures have fundamental institutional and systemic elements that have either been ignored or made worse by political and economic behaviors which have undermined the trust and confidence of most people.
As we cast our vote, another critical issue to consider is racism which is intrinsically evil and a follower of Christ can never approve the discrimination of another human being based on color or ethnicity, as this violates human dignity. Another issue to be kept in mind before casting a vote for a person to assume the highest office in the land is the Catholic understanding of human cloning and destructive research on human embryos. Research that destroys human embryos had been defined by Pope John Paul II as eugenic abortion. According to Catholic teaching, this can never be permitted, as it is intrinsically evil as it destroys human life at its earliest stages of development. Which Presidential candidate best represents the Church’s teaching on this critical issue?
As we enter this Presidential election year, there is a loss of the sense that there is a natural law given to us by God to guide us to lead good moral lives. The natural law helps us to understand our dependency on our Creator and basic obligations to one another, helping both them and ourselves to flourish. Morality is the idea that there are standards for life that are ultimately beyond just human opinion or majority vote but come to us from the nature of reality, from the nature of creation as determined by God.
As people of God and loyal citizens of our country, we should all have a great concern that God is more and more being removed from our political and social life. There is loss of the sense that there is a loving Creator and Redeemer, and that He will come to our assistance in the midst of unbelievable challenges and suffering if we put our trust in Him. Without this knowledge and hope, despair soon follows. How else can we understand the now rapid descent down the slippery slope and openness to such evils as killing the inconvenient and non-productive members of society, if not as a logical result of the widespread despair and loss of love and hope? What is happening basically is that mere creatures are trying to play God.
As we discuss how we can overcome this growing moral decay in our society, the primary solution must be a return to a living faith in an all-loving and all-powerful God and basic moral values and principles. We have to live our faith with total coherence, what we say we believe, we must put into action. Living by example is far stronger and more convincing than a flood of words. In this important Presidential election year, a challenging question for all voters is: Will we let Divine truth, and defined Catholic doctrine and Catholic social teaching guide the casting of our vote—or party platform and affiliation and the opinion of fallible human beings?