I always preface the situation when I write something concerning politics. I am neither Democrat nor Republican nor hold any party affiliation for that matter. I am an independent, conservative. I try to vote for the best person I see running for office and will cross party lines to do so. I will not sell my soul to any political party—ever. Parties and candidates all have their faults and failings—some more than others. My soul belongs definitively and solely to Jesus Christ.
That being said, what I see happening in the political arena is quite amazing. If you would have asked me who the frontrunners in the 2016 presidential election would be at this point in time, I might have been one for two (.500). Do I like what I see? Nope.
People for years have been saying that we seem to have to choose between the lesser of two evils. Would you prefer to die by firing squad or lethal injection? Either scenario appears quite dreadful.
What does a person do in such circumstances? There is often disagreement among Catholics and other Christians and sometimes even among the Church hierarchy. Do I vote my conscience? A basic moral principle is that we should always follow our conscience. This is not as simplistic as it may seem. We have an obligation to see to it that our conscience is rightly formed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches the following:
Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings. (CCC, #1783)
The Catechism continues:
In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. (CCC, #1785)
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has authored a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship intended to assist in the process of voting in an election. I suggest that Catholics and people of good will read it before stepping into the voting booth. There will be a link to it on the parish website. I quote one pertinent paragraph:
The formation of conscience includes several elements. First, there is a desire to embrace goodness and truth. For Catholics, this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth and what is right by studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also important to examine the facts and background information about various choices. Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God. Catholics must also understand that if they fail to form their consciences in the light of the truths of the faith and the moral teachings of the Church they can make erroneous judgments.
Educate yourselves, read Sacred Scripture, pray and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit within.
Try not to breathe in the stench that is sometimes emitted from various political candidates. It's pretty repulsive.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
(PS, More to follow in the months ahead.)