We at The Catholic Sun receive a great deal of feedback from you, our faithful readers. During election seasons, the comments tend to split between two different camps: Some think that we are too conservative, while others are convinced that we are too liberal.
So perhaps we are right where we are supposed to be.
Some of our most vocal readers accuse us of focusing too much on abortion, while others claim we don’t do so nearly enough; some will say that we focus too much on immigration issues, while others claim we are silent. Same goes for capital punishment, marriage, poverty and the environment. The list goes on.
This difference in perception reveals that we are a diverse Church made up of many different viewpoints, with a number of concerns.
Quite often we are asked to take a stand in support of a particular candidate for office. Readers look to us for guidance — and to provide guidance to those who they feel need to be convinced.
But that’s not our job.
Readers will not find political endorsements in The Catholic Sun, nor will people see campaign advertisements. We don’t get into political personalities. We don’t feature candidates, regardless of political affiliation, who seek our endorsement. That’s not our mission, despite what some people may think or hope for.
Our mission is one that is driven by the truth revealed to us through Jesus Christ and His Church. We lift up issues (not candidates or political parties), we shine a light on their qualities or ramifications, and we inform our readers. This happens year-round, regardless of the political atmosphere.
Catholics are called to participate in shaping the moral character of society and in promoting the common good. This is accomplished by being an informed voter and by participating in the political process, and by actively engaging in the civic duties afforded to us as American citizens.
As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urge in their document titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the responsibility to make political choices rests with each person and his or her properly formed conscience.
So how does one provide for a well-formed conscience?
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted addresses these questions (and more) in “Catholics in the Public Square,” a booklet organized into a series of 35 questions and answers.
“In preparing to vote, Catholics need to understand their faith so that their consciences are properly formed,” Bishop Olmsted writes. “Subsequent to this formation, it is important to research all of the important issues and candidates that will appear on the ballot.”
He points out that a person’s conscience is not the source of truth; rather it must search for truth “through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the help of God’s word handed down to us in the Church.”
When considering the feedback we receive from our readers, some are under the misconception that all political and social issues are weighted equally. There are important distinctions that need to be recognized among the important moral issues of our time, and this distinction is addressed by Bishop Olmsted:
“The Catholic Church is actively engaged in a wide variety of important public policy issues including immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, to name just a few,” the bishop writes. “However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.”
The U.S. bishops address this question by stating: “A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”
While we will not endorse political candidates, we strongly urge Catholics to take an active, informed approach to shaping our culture. This is accomplished by engaging in our political system with an informed conscience.