Thursday, November 01, 2012

Bringing Faith to Bear

On the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops:

Our allegiance to God and our reverence for religious liberty are not sectarian interests; rather, they render testimony to ideals of truth and charity that serve all people. As Pope Benedict XVI states, “In the present social and cultural context, where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth, practicing charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society . . . ” (Caritas in Veritate, no. 4).

The task of building a good society makes our Catholic civic engagement vitally important. But as Christians, we also have the religious duty of making the message of salvation known to all people. Impelled by the love of God, we draw others to Jesus Christ by doing good for our neighbor. And we fulfill this baptismal mission by conforming our lives to our faith so that we become the light of the world.

At election time, charity and truth are expressed through the votes we cast in favor of the inherent dignity of every human person and the common good of all. In this respect, faith must inform our electoral decisions. The Catholic faith is always personal but never private. If our faith is real, then it will naturally and necessarily guide our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices.

And so, we, the bishops of Pennsylvania, urge citizens to vote this year, and we encourage Catholics to learn what our faith believes about the issues at stake in the 2012 election. To do this, we recommend a review of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship and Living the Gospel of Life, both available online at

Ideas have consequences. Beliefs shape our culture. We revere the best ideals of our American democracy. We embrace the truths of our Catholic faith. In this mutuality of politics and religious conviction—as informed citizens and as steadfast believers—we strive to fulfill the human vocation in our own day, just as all the saints have done in past ages.

In this Year of Faith, let us bring our faith to bear on how we vote this Election Day.

You can be a Catholic. And you can be an Obama supporter. But you can no longer, in good conscience be both. And while I’m sure that a fair number of Catholics will still try to live through that contradiction, I believe that there will also be a good number of Catholics who voted for Obama in 2008 who follow their conscience this time around.


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