How to Vote Catholic-In Brief

By Deal W. Hudson

Political Participation

•Catholics are obliged to participate in politics by voting.

•Legislators are elected to serve and protect the common good, human dignity, and rights of human persons.

•Voters should have a clear understanding of the principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

•The life issues are dominant in the hierarchy of issues for the Catholic voter.

Prudential Judgment

•Prudential judgment is the application of principle to con­crete situations.

•Catholic principles apply to all political issues but in many cases do not lead prudentially to one acceptable Catholic position.

•The bishops’ teachings on faith and morals are binding; their prudential judgments on policy guide us but do not bind us.

Public Witness

•The Christian Faith cannot be restricted to oneself and one’s family, making it impossible to “love one’s neighbor.”

•The principle of subsidiarity teaches that Catholics should first address social problems at the local level before asking the government to intervene.

•Politics and government need the public witness of what faith teaches about the common good, human rights, and human dignity.

Abortion

•Abortion is the dominant political issue.

•Being pro-abortion disqualifies a candidate from a Catho­lic vote.

•Catholics can justly support politicians who advocate in­cremental means toward eliminating abortion.

Euthanasia

•The ban against euthanasia and assisted suicide admits of no exception.

•Removing extraordinary means of supporting life is allow­able as a prudential judgment.

•The growing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted sui­cide rests on the misguided assumption that pain detracts from the value of life.

Bioethics

•Since science serves human ends, not its own, scientific research must always respect the moral law.

•Science must respect the inherent dignity of the human person.
Unused and unwanted embryos must be treated with the respect afforded to other human beings.

•Ending human life cannot be justified in the name of thera­peutic (i.e., medical) benefits to other persons.

Population

•Population policy must not include abortion and steriliza­tion as methods of slowing population growth.

•The use of contraception in population policy undermines marriage and ignores the moral issues of promiscuity and disease.

•Catholic institutions should not be required to support contraception or abortion through mandated insurance coverage.

•The right to abortion should not be allowed to enter in­ternational law under the rubric of women’s “reproductive health” or fears of overpopulation.

The Death Penalty

•The Church teaches that the death penalty is acceptable in principle but should be avoided in practice.

•The responsibility of elected officials is to ensure that pe­nal systems and sentencing policies do in fact protect soci­ety from known aggressors.

•The practical elimination of the death penalty is based upon the strength of the penal system and the commensu­rateness of the sentencing procedures.

War

•States have the right to engage in war in self-defense but should first exhaust all peaceful solutions.

•Just war is waged within defined moral boundaries in re­gard to its targets, goals, and outcomes.

•Political leadership must have both the inclination toward peace and the capacity for decisive action if war is just and necessary.

Defense and Terrorism

•Nations have a duty to protect their citizens from legitimate threats.

•Nations should build their capacity for defense in light of just-war theory.

•Terrorism—the injury and murder of innocent civilians— is never justified.

•Defending a nation combines the military, international diplomacy, and a compassionate foreign policy.

Judicial Issues

•Judges should be evaluated according to their judicial re­cords and commitment to the limited judicial role, not at­tacked for their privately held religious views.

•Those who would nominate and confirm judicial activists disenfranchise the faithful Catholic voter.

•Catholic leaders have a duty to respect their constituents and their Church’s commitment to natural law tradition when considering judicial appointees.

Marriage and the Family

•Marriage was instituted prior to the state and should be recognized by the state as something inviolate and neces­sary to the common good.

•Prudential judgments about law and public policy should always seek to strengthen marriage and families.

•So-called same-sex marriages cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church, and civil unions are likely to undermine marriage and damage its foundational role in society.

Education

•Parents—not the state–have the right to educate their children.

•Catholic parents have the right to have their chil­dren educated in a curriculum consonant with Catho­lic values.

•Governments should provide financial support to families for the education they desire for their children.

Economic Issues

•Work is a matter of human dignity and is necessary to the common good.

•Government should create the conditions that support business and industry development.

•Corporate responsibility is critical in helping to maintain economic success.

Taxation

•Taxes should be fairly based upon one’s ability to pay.

•Tax policy should not penalize marriage or the raising of children.

•Corporate taxes should not threaten the capacity to create and sustain jobs.

Poverty

•The preferential option for the poor requires that authori­ties first provide assistance to the poor and oppressed.

•The poor must have access to the education and job train­ing necessary to compete in today’s job market.

•Strong families that remain intact keep their members from falling into poverty.

Health Care

•Health-care needs should be met by a combination of per­sonal and corporate insurance, philanthropy, and govern­ment programs.

•Catholic health-care organizations must be free to per­form their work with clear consciences.

•Abstinence and fidelity should be the foundation of sexu­ally transmitted disease—education and prevention.

Religious Liberty

•Religious expression is a human right that should be rec­ognized by the state.

•States that enforce secularism in social services and educa­tion are violating religious liberty.

•Political debate naturally involves religious concepts since law and public policy directly affect the common good.

Immigration

•A nation should seek to accommodate the immigrant who, for just reasons, seeks greater access to the basic goods of life.

•Political leaders and citizens should recognize the reality of human interdependence that crosses all borders and all national identities.

•The immigrant is a person who deserves the same protec­tion of law and social benefits afforded to citizens.

The Environment

•From creation, human beings are given special responsi­bility as stewards of the earth.

•As part of its duty to the common good, the government should prevent unnecessary harm to natural resources.

•Government should also use creative and technological skill, in concert with global cooperation, to reverse existing environmental damage.

Published in Crisis Magazine, November 1, 2006

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