Friday, November 3, 2017

How Catholics should think about politics and government


How Catholics should think about politics and government
Seven things to think about before you vote next week.

Next Tuesday, November 7, 2017, is election day across America. Because of our places along the spectrum of American voters, Catholics again have a pivotal role to play in these elections. How should we vote?

There are many excellent guides for Catholic voting. Last year, for example, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reissued its Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship document. For the most part, though, such guides focus at the policy level, identifying specific policies to be opposed or promoted. Tendentiously, some of these guides are written as if commandments from on high, listing five or nine "non-negotiables," and so on.

As useful as such policy guides can be, they can get lost in specifics and not enlighten us about how Catholics should engage in political life more generally. Offered here, then, are seven reflections about good Catholic political engagement that address how we should vote.

Reflection 1: Practice politics
Traditional Catholic teachings recognize not only the necessity of government for human life but also its responsibility to promote the good for society. Unlike the negative conception Americans often have, perceiving politics as at best a necessary evil, the church sees political life as natural and ideally a noble activity for achieving what cannot be done by private individuals. Citizenship comes, therefore, with a moral obligation to be involved in public life. In a democracy where voting is a primary form of political engagement, Catholic teachings insist on the importance of voting.

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