Catholic Citizenship » Conscience and Your Vote
Conscience and Your Vote
Bishop Peter A. Libasci developed a document, “Conscience and Your Vote,” to assist others in understanding the nature of conscience and the moral obligation to vote and to outline Catholic social teaching on some of today’s pressing issues.The document is based on the shared faith and human understanding we possess as Catholics. This document is not a “voter guide.” The Diocese of Manchester does not in any way endorse a particular candidate, political party, or political action committee. This resource was developed to assist others in understanding the nature of conscience and the moral obligation to vote and to outline Catholic social teaching on some of today’s pressing issues.
Voting in New Hampshire
What are the Issues?
In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the United States bishops present central and enduring principles of the Catholic social tradition that provide a moral framework for decisions in public life:
- The Dignity of the Human Person: Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or in any condition. In our society, human life is especially under direct attack from abortion. Other direct threats to the sanctity of human life include euthanasia and assisted suicide (sometimes falsely labeled as “death with dignity”), human cloning, in vitro fertilization, and the destruction of human embryos for research. Catholic teaching about the dignity of life calls us to oppose torture, unjust war, and the indiscriminate use of drones for violent purposes; to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; to oppose human trafficking; and to overcome poverty and suffering. Nations are called to protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort after all peaceful means have failed, and to end the use of the death penalty as a means of protecting society from violent crime. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God. We stand opposed to these and all activities that contribute to what Pope Francis has called “a throwaway culture.”
- Subsidiarity: The family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Respect for the family should be reflected in every policy and program. Every person and association has a right and duty to participate actively in shaping society and to promote the well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good.
- Common Good: Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible, and a right to access those things required for human decency – food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life. The right to exercise religious freedom publicly and privately by individuals and institutions along with freedom of conscience need to be constantly defended. Corresponding these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Rights should be understood and exercised in a moral framework rooted in the dignity of the human person. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. It is therefore necessary that an economic system serve the dignity of the human person and the common good by respecting the dignity of work and protecting the rights of workers. Employers contribute to the common good through the services or products they provide and by creating jobs that uphold the dignity and rights of workers. Workers also have responsibilities - to provide a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, to treat employers and co-workers with respect, and to carry out their work in ways that contribute to the common good.
We also have a duty to care for God’s creation. Care for creation is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people, especially the poor, who suffer the most as a result of attacks on the environment. We have a moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live – to respect our common home and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for human beings, especially children at their most vulnerable stages of development. As stewards called by God to share the responsibility for the future of the earth, we should work for a world in which people respect and protect all of creation and seek to live simply in harmony with it for the sake of future generations.
- Solidarity: We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions and requires us to eradicate racism and address the extreme poverty and disease plaguing so much of the world. Solidarity also includes the scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us - including immigrants seeking work – by ensuring that they have opportunities for a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families and by ending the practice of separating families through deportation. In light of the Gospel’s invitation to be peacemakers, our commitment to solidarity with our neighbors – at home and abroad – also demands that we promote peace and pursue justice in a world marred by terrible violence and conflict.
In reference to solidarity, a special emphasis must be given to the Church’s preferential option for the poor. While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond – unborn children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, victims of injustice and oppression, and immigrants.
CLICK HERE to read Parable Magazine and learn about individuals and groups from across New Hampshire whose lives give witness to these principles of Catholic Social Teaching.