Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

9/24/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The New Evangelization and the proper exercise of our voting privilege is connected, since our choice of political candidates plays a significant role in healing, elevating and perfecting our culture and society at large.

Authentic participation in the New Evangelization requires one's proper exercise of the right and duty to vote. But that cannot occur in the absence of careful, reasoned and informed moral discernment; nor can it occur if the hierarchy of evils is ignored when voting. The most relevant question is this: when I stand before Jesus Christ, will I be able to justify my voting choices, or will whatever I say merely be an attempt to rationalize them? The answer to that question makes all the difference.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/24/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Voting in November, November election, formed conscience, forming conscience, voting as an informed Catholic, teaching of the Church on voting, intrinsic evils, moral discernment, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Republican, Democrat, Social Just


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- The New Evangelization is essentially a process in which Christians, aided by the Holy Spirit, work to heal, elevate and perfect the culture in which they live as well as other communities in the world by proclaiming and promoting the content of the Gospel. While it is the work of every baptized Christian, it can only be accomplished in union with Christ, who is the life and the "light of men" (Jn 1:4), and in harmony with his divinely founded Catholic Church. Integral to participation in the New Evangelization, is properly exercising our right and duty to vote this November. In order to understand why this is so, let's briefly look into the nature and purpose of the New Evangelization, as well as how our responsibility to vote fits into our mission as children of God.

The goal of the New Evangelization is to foster a transformative encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ and the mysteries of his life, in order to bring about a widespread metanoia, a profound spiritual transformation producing a complete change of heart, which acts as a catalyst for positive change in cultures and societies. It is to bring the light and warmth of the Gospel to what was before plagued by darkness, displacing bad with good, error with truth. In participating in the New Evangelization, we join with our Lord who said, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

In order to re-create cultures and societies, it is necessary to infuse them with life-giving Catholic principles, all of which are firmly grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can say this because, in every case, we come to know about Jesus Christ and his saving Gospel through the Church, not in isolation of her. Further, we can definitively understand ourselves only in light of the mystery of the Word made flesh (cf. Gaudium et Spes 22 § 1), who is himself the totality of God's revelation. However, we would not know of the meaning of the Word made flesh if it were not for the Church, who is Christ's Bride and a holy dwelling place for men, a city of truth in which we are privileged to hear the revealed Word of God transmitted in its fullness.

"Christians of the first centuries said, 'The world was created for the sake of the Church.' God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the 'convocation' of men in Christ, and this 'convocation' is the Church" (CCC 760). That is why St. Epiphanius was able to say, "The Church is the goal of all things."

Since the Church is an integral and inseparable component of the Father's salvific plan of love for all men, it follows that the teaching of the Church on faith and morals is essential to the work of healing, elevating and perfecting culture. One way of infusing the teaching of the Church into culture, is through properly exercising our voting rights and privileges. When we vote according to a process of careful moral discernment in accordance with Tradition, Scripture, the teaching of the Church, and in harmony with a properly formed conscience, we then become positively and authentically engaged in transforming culture.

What's At Stake

Perhaps more so today than ever before, American society is indeed in need of healing. We only need look at those terrifying intrinsic evils such as abortion to realize that, as a nation, we have become an accomplice in "unspeakable evil," as Blessed John Paul II referred to the abomination of the legalized, intentional killing of unborn children. And, of course, there are other grave moral issues confronting our nation which include: the dismantling of the institution of marriage through the "marriage equivalency" movement and the push for homosexual unions; the blatant attack on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience; and the attempt to fine the Catholic Church into oblivion as a consequence of her non-compliance with the HHS contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug mandate.

To a large degree, these moral evils and others are being perpetuated through the continued election or reelection of political candidates who adhere to intrinsic evils, reject the divine law and the natural moral law, and otherwise display a seriously disordered moral character. In order to set this nation on the path of healing, sending a clear message to all political candidates is a New Evangelization imperative. Political candidates and incumbents running for reelection who adhere to gravely immoral personal philosophies, reject the natural moral law and willfully cooperate with intrinsic evils must not be tolerated.

This message, however, so crucial to the future spiritual and physical health of our children and our nation, one which is in reality grounded in charity, will not solidify in an atmosphere of careless or indifferent voting. It is vital for Catholics and other Christians to be carefully taught what their voting responsibility entails, including the importance of voting from an informed moral perspective and in accordance with a properly formed conscience. If this does not take place, the problems we are experiencing will not only continue, they will amplify.

Irresponsible voting manifests itself in various ways. These include: a failure to make the distinction between intrinsic evils (e.g., abortion, embryonic stem-cell experimentation, euthanasia, etc.) which can never be supported, and those social and economic policies which fall under the realm of prudential judgment (e.g., tax rates, entitlement programs, debt reduction, the implementation of just immigration policies, etc.); a stubborn adherence to partisan politics which leaves no room for evaluating a particular candidate on his or her personal philosophies on such grave issues as the human person's inviolable right to life; support for a political candidate which is based merely on how "good" he or she looked or sounded during a debate speech; voting strictly in accord with a narrow "economic mindset" that relegates all other matters below financial health; and voting from an individualistic "what's good for me" perspective that ignores the common good collectively, to name a few.

All of the above fail to utilize a process of proper moral discernment when voting. That, indeed, is precisely the problem with America today. That is, Americans have fallen for a false freedom which is detached from the moral law. Stuffed wallets and individualistic ambitions are idolized while grave moral evils are condoned. If this disastrous situation remains unaddressed, our nation will continue to deteriorate. "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127).

The Hierarchy of Evils Must Not Be Ignored

The tendency to fail to make the proper distinctions between different kinds of moral issues is the most serious of all voting errors. The U.S. bishops warn against a "moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. 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" (FC 28). There is a hierarchy of evils among moral issues, and intrinsic evils, such as legalized abortion and euthanasia, are the very worst of them. They must not be ignored.

In a recent interview with National Catholic Reporter (NCR) journalist John L. Allen Jr., Archbishop Charles Chaput gave a series of forthright and laudable responses to some pointed questions. Of particular relevance, is Allen's question about Catholic voting practices. He asked the Archbishop, "Do you believe a Catholic in good faith can vote for Obama?"

Archbishop Chaput responded: "I can only speak in terms of my own personal views. I certainly can't vote for somebody who's either pro-choice or pro-abortion.

"I'm not a Republican and I'm not a Democrat. I'm registered as an independent, because I don't think the Church should be identified with one party or another. As an individual and voter I have deep personal concerns about any party that supports changing the definition of marriage, supports abortion in all circumstances, wants to restrict the traditional understanding of religious freedom. Those kinds of issues cause me a great deal of uneasiness."

It is important to note that, while he spoke from a personal position, Archbishop Chaput does not make those types of decisions or statements in isolation of a careful process of moral discernment which takes into consideration the Gospel, the divine law, the natural moral law, and the teachings of the Catholic Church whose Divine Founder is Jesus Christ. The Archbishop's vision on these matters is penetratingly clear precisely because it is based on God's revealed truth which is transmitted through the Church.

That American culture can be healed, elevated and perfected while anti-life political candidates who support absolutely the intrinsic evil of legalized abortion are elected into public office is absurd.

"There are some things we must never do," wrote the U.S. bishops, "as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called 'intrinsically evil' actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia" (FC 22).

Blessed John Paul II wrote that "abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others" (Living the Gospel of Life 5 [qtd. in Faithful Citizenship]).

It is difficult to imagine how the health of our nation can be improved in any way by placing political officials who support the intentional killing of unborn children and other intrinsic evils into positions of authority and power over others. To do so is not to heal, elevate and perfect, but rather to wound, dismantle, and destroy.

Nevertheless, some will here object. It is said that voting is complex, messy, with all kinds of social justice issues to be considered, so it is incorrect to give too much attention to intrinsic evils. Those who refuse to vote for anti-life politicians are infected by tunnel-vision, they say. Often cited is the following quote from the Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life: "The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good" (4).

However, the above quote must not be read in isolation of what comes before it: "It must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals" (ibid.). Politicians who adhere to intrinsic evils also, more often than not, support them and advance them, turning them into political programs and agendas.

A vote for anti-life politicians has the effect of perpetuating intrinsic evils through the ongoing de-formation of society. While it is true that a "political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good," it must also be remembered that our responsibility toward the common good requires that we oppose with "maximum determination" those intrinsic evils which attack the right to human life:

In Christifideles Laici Blessed John Paul II wrote: "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (38).

Authentic participation in the New Evangelization requires one's proper exercise of the right and duty to vote. But that cannot occur in the absence of careful, reasoned and informed moral discernment; nor can it occur if the hierarchy of evils is ignored and moral distinctions are rejected. For Catholics, living as a citizen of an earthly nation cannot be separated from living in the household of God, as a son or daughter of the Father, as if our Faith can be compartmentalized or put aside one moment and embraced the next. Nor can our Christian faith be set aside in the voting booth with indifference to Christ and his Church.

The most relevant question is this: when I stand before Jesus Christ, will I be able to justify my voting choices, or will whatever I say merely be an attempt to rationalize them? The answer to that question makes all the difference.

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Deal with the Devil or practical politics? Is there a pro-life case for Bernie Sanders? Watch

Image of Would a pro-life strategy that involves Bernie Sanders be a deal with the devil, or a practical strategy?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A lot of Catholics like Bernie Sanders. Recently, we saw an outpouring of support of the candidate in the comments under an excellent article written by Deacon Keith Fournier. Many Catholics appreciate Sander's stance on social issues - after all, he is a democratic ... continue reading


CURTAIN CALLED: GOP debate starts hilariously as candidates fail to appear on cue Watch

Image of When candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's names were announced, the two men were still blocking their way. Sneaking past, Jeb grinned and bumped Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It is a bit trivial to say about such an important event - but the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire this weekend could have done with a bit more rehearsal. Candidate Ben Carson came out too early, Donald Trump stood with Carson, and candidates Marco ... continue reading


'Faith is the great cure for fear': Obama speaks at annual National Prayer Breakfast in WA Watch

Image of At the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke against Muslim stereotypes and hatred (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Barack Obama spoke of God, fear and love. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the breakfast, both Democrats and republicans set aside their differences to build relationships based on their ... continue reading


After Iowa fail, Donald Trump vows to 'beat the ____ out of ISIS' Watch

Image of Many noted that Donald Trump seemed unusually subdued in New Hampshire. He claimed that he remained optimistic after his second place finish in the Iowa primary. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

While he faced defeat in the Iowa caucuses, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was full of his usual bluster in New Hampshire. Never one to mince words, he vowed to "beat the ___ out of ISIS" if he was elected president. LOS ANGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it': Trump furiously rants on Twitter about Cruz's win demanding a new Iowa 'election' Watch

Image of Donald Trump calls for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results (Reuters).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When news of the Cruz campaign "mistake" concerning Ben Carson at the Iowa caucus reached Donald Trump, he was furious. The business tycoon took to Twitter to call for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Despite his initial ... continue reading


Republican Candidate Drops Out of Presidential Race: But who was it? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following a disappointing show in the Iowa caucus, with only 4.5 percent of the votes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign ... continue reading


Political sabotage: Ted Cruz pleads GUILTY to wronging Ben Carson at Iowa caucus Watch

Image of Ted Cruz admitted his campaign started the lie that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race prior to the Iowa caucus (NY Times).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a shocking admission, Ted Cruz admits his staff spread rumors of Ben Carson dropping out of the runnings just before the Iowa caucus voting began. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As previously reported, the Iowa caucus was filled with surprises that included ... continue reading


A Night of Surprises: What went down during the Iowa caucuses? Watch

Image of Iowa caucus surprises with historical neck-and-neck race and Trump in second place.

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Iowa caucus results are in after a high-energy night fueled by rumors of foul-play, coin tosses and the waning smile of a smug Trump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Before the Iowa caucus, polls showed presidential hopeful Donald Trump as the leading ... continue reading


Trump leading in polls as he thanks Iowa's evangelicals Watch

Image of Donald Trump has cut Sen. Ted Cruz's advantage with evangelicals, according to a CBS News poll. (Jim Young, Reuters)

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As the Iowa caucuses heat up, executive Donald Trump has shown a strong lead over Ted Cruz in recent opinion polls. Trump took time to thank evangelical Christians for their support. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton maintains a thin lead over Bernie Sanders in ... continue reading


Whoa! Secret Microsoft algorithm predicts wins for Clinton, Trump in Iowa and beyond Watch

Image of Computerized predictions are big business, both at the sports book and in politics.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are predicted to win tonight's Iowa caucuses according to a sophisticated algorithm used by Microsoft's Bing search engine to predict outcomes. The search engine has an excellent record. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Microsoft ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Apollonia: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • Stations of the Cross - Series HD Video
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More