I recently saw this comment on my Facebook page:
“There is no such thing as a pro-choice practicing Catholic. You cannot be pro-choice and a practicing Catholic and those that claim otherwise or try to base their claims on Catholic Social teaching are either terribly misinformed or out & out liars.”
Suddenly in my mind, the Pharisee jumped out of today’s Gospel and spoke: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this pro-choice Catholic.” (isn’t it sad that the Pharisee needs to make himself feel better by pointing out someone else’s sin?)
Then I thought to myself, “What a strange way for a person to talk to their friends?” (We’re ALL friends on Facebook, are we not?)
If that person were a real Catholic friend, he or she would drop the name calling, and encourage friends to vote with Catholic moral principles in mind.
Following those principles as we vote would be a good way to respond to our first reading, because many of them reflect God’s concern for the powerless among us.
I would like to share those Catholic morals principles with you now, and I promise not to call you names.
These are not MY moral principles; our U. S. Bishops gave them to us in a document called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. I strongly encourage you to read the entire document. What I’m about to share with you is from Part III of the document.
“We urge…all people of good will to use this statement…to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.”
… (W)e bishops offer the following policy goals… Not all issues are equal; these ten goals address matters of different moral weight and urgency. Some involve intrinsically evil acts, which can never be approved. Others involve… obligations to seek the common good… :
- Protect the weakest in our midst—innocent unborn children—by restricting and bringing to an end the destruction of unborn children through abortion and providing women in crisis pregnancies the support they need to make a decision for life.
- Keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems—abortions to deal with unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of illness and disability, the destruction of human embryos in the name of research, the use of the death penalty to combat crime, and imprudent resort to war to address international disputes.
- Protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as the life-long and faithful union of one man and one woman and as the central institution of society; … reject false “gender” ideologies; and provide better support for family life morally, socially, and economically…
- Achieve comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship, treats immigrant workers fairly, prevents the separation of families, maintains the integrity of our borders, respects the rule of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries.
- Help families and children overcome poverty: ensuring access to and choice in education, as well as decent work at fair, living wages and adequate assistance for the vulnerable in our nation, while also helping to overcome widespread hunger and poverty around the world…
- Provide health care while respecting human life, human dignity, and religious freedom in our health care system.
- … oppose policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry, and other forms of unjust discrimination.
- Encourage families, community groups, economic structures, and government to work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, and care for creation, with full respect for individuals and groups and their right to address social needs in accord with their basic moral and religious convictions.
- Establish and comply with moral limits on the use of military force… with a special view to… ending the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
- Join with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty, and advance economic justice and care for creation.”
Please notice that there is no mention of a candidate’s name or of a political party in this document. The bishops want us to be aware, before we go into the voting booth, of what God wants for this nation and the world. What goes on in the voting booth is between you, God and your confessor.