vote. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts
of all advanced democracies. No democracy can survive the disinterest
of its own people. In an election year when critical issues are
so prominent, voting is not an option. It is a moral obligation.
Third, vote your moral
principles. It is entirely responsible to vote according to our
Catholic beliefs. Even more: For Catholics to do otherwise is bad citizenship.
Every law, every public policy, embodies a moral conviction. Some laws, and
the convictions which undergird them, are good. Others are bad. We cannot turn
our culture toward a culture of life if we do not root our actions, including
our political choices, in our faith.
Fourth and finally,
as you consider your vote, remember the sanctity of human life and dignity.
As a nation, America has a grave responsibility to its poor and homeless, to
its elderly, to its families, to its children seeking an adequate education
and freedom from violence, to its immigrant workers, and to people of other
nations whose labor helps to create and sustain our prosperity. On all of these
issues, Catholics should press their candidates to support an ethic which consistently
protects and advances the human person. As Pope John Paul has written, " . .
. there can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person's dignity
and without respect for his or her rights."
The Holy Father has also
written: "It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging
and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights
of individuals are founded and from which they develop." As America's bishops
suggested in their 1998 pastoral statement Living the Gospel of Life,
it is impossible to advance human dignity by being "right" on issues like poverty
and immigration, but wrong about the most fundamental issue of all -- the right
What does that mean? It
means, for example, that a so-called "right" to partial-birth abortion can never
outweigh a child's right to life -- and any "right" to kill the innocent undermines
every other right of the human person.
For each of us in this
Jubilee Year, responsible citizenship may offer complicated choices and imperfect
candidates. But we are not alone, even in the voting booth; nor, as believing
Catholics, do we lack a compass for conscience and action. May God grant His
presence - and the light of our faith -- to each of us as we exercise our freedom
will continue his reflections on Catholic faith, responsible citizenship and
the issues of Election 2000 next week. Important note: He will also lead a public
discussion of "Living the Gospel of Life" and "Faithful Citizenship" on Monday
evening, October 23, at 7:15 p.m. in Bonfils Hall at the John Paul II Center.
Admission is free. All are welcome.