St. Thomas More. Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. St. Paul Miki. St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. St. Andrew Dung-Lac. Across different cultures and circumstances, each of these saints found strength and a way forward through their faith in the midst of great difficulties. During these challenging times, as America continues to experience a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a national election, we too can find strength and the way forward in our faith.
That idea is worth reflecting upon during this season, as election day draws nearer. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls on believers to consider their voting choices, equipped with their faith and a well-formed conscience. Practically speaking, it is the responsibility of Catholics to learn Church teachings and to apply them to the decisions they make every day. At the same time, churches and priests have an important role in providing education about the Church’s moral and social teaching and in “[encouraging] the faithful to carry out their responsibilities in political life” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship or FCFC). To assist in this process, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) offers its FOCUS publication The Issues, the Candidates, and Your Vote 2020.
In the voting process and beyond, Catholics are called to “contribute to the common good and act in solidarity with those in need” (FCFC). While wading through candidate positions and campaign rhetoric, it can be challenging to navigate these two imperatives at times, but it is critically important. As voters consider their choices, the USCCB instructs Catholics to be careful of two temptations:
- Thinking that all issues bear the same moral weight on one’s conscience. In fact, the bishops write that “the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed” (FCFC). For example, abortion and euthanasia carry significant moral weight. Additionally, the document mentions racism as a topic that must be opposed, as well as “treating workers as mere means to an end, deliberately subjecting workers to subhuman living conditions, treating the poor as disposable, or redefining marriage to deny its essential meaning.”
- Dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity because of the necessary moral distinctions mentioned above. The bishops mention a wide range of issues that “are not optional concerns which can be dismissed,” and they remind Catholics not to be single-issue voters (FCFC). MCC outlines nine issues for believers to consider and weigh in its recent FOCUS.
On their ballot, Michiganders also will find two statewide proposals. Proposal 1 would allow for greater flexibility in the formula for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which distributes grants to acquire new land for public use and to improve outdoor recreational facilities. Proposal 2 would add a provision to the Michigan Constitution that includes “electronic data and electronic communications” as items that state and local law enforcement officials would be required to obtain a search warrant for in order to access. While MCC has no position on either measure, summaries have been developed to assist Catholics toward further understanding both questions. These summaries, as well as other election-related materials, are available at www.micatholic.org/2020Election. Please take the time to vote by or on Tuesday, November 3.
Whatever the outcome of the issues and races on this November’s ballot, the necessity for communities to work for the common good will continue. As Catholics, we are called to be present in those spaces and to repair divisions. We are called to work together to build a culture that uplifts others and recognizes that we all have gifts to share. And we are called to hold all of our officials accountable for their decisions, whether or not we voted for them, and to promote our values.
In the weeks following the election, let us respond with peace and kindness. Should the outcome of the election be contested, we must focus on civility and patience. Then, guided by the strength of our faith, let us roll up our sleeves and get to work. Inspired by the example of the saints, Catholics and others of goodwill have the opportunity to bring renewed energy to collaboration, advocacy, and action in the public realm. Let us pray and prepare to find a productive way forward.