By MICHAEL O’CONNELL
WORCESTER – So, who should Catholics vote for on Election Day?
At the conclusion of the last in a series of four “Conscience and the Catholic Voter” pre-election forums held in Worcester, speaker Allison LeDoux didn’t urge the crowd to pick a particular presidential candidate. She repeated the general theme of the series – that Catholics should vote their conscience.
“We can’t endorse or recommend – I guess this is what everybody in the series has said,” Mrs. LeDoux, director of the Respect Life Office, told two dozen in the audience Oct. 26. “But hopefully we can get people to draw the right conclusions.”
The series, co-sponsored by the Respect Life Office and The Catholic Free Press, included talks by Bishop McManus, Boston attorney Frances X. Hogan, Professor Christopher Klofft and Mrs. LeDoux. The sessions touched on a series of issues Catholics should understand and draw upon while making their own decisions about whom to support in local and national elections.
Essentially, Mrs. LeDoux stressed, the organizers wanted to ensure that local Catholics develop “well-formed consciences” as they get ready to fill in the oval spaces on their Nov. 8 ballots.
“Our goal has been to help Catholics to form your consciences, to have a deepened understanding of the Church teaching of the positive vision of the Church for human good, for human flourishing for a just and moral society,” she said, following her talk in the basement hall of Immaculate Conception Church in Worcester.
Mrs. LeDoux said the series organizers believe “that as individuals, together we can really make a difference in looking at what is most important for the good of our nation, for the good of society, for the generations that come after us. By looking at those priorities, we can help spread that message to others we come in contact with.”
Mrs. LeDoux structured her hour-long talk, “Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom: Pillars of a Nation’s Soul,” as a summation of many of the issues covered in prior sessions in the “Conscience and the Catholic Voter” series.
Conscience, she said, guides us in all of our decisions – and should guide us in the voting booth. “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking,” she said.
In following your conscience, she said, Catholics cannot separate politics from morality. “We must vote in conformity with our well-formed conscience, bringing to society moral precepts that are common to all human beings (found in the natural law) and binding to all,” she said.
To follow these moral precepts, she said, Catholics need to consider church teachings about “non-negotiable ethical principles:” the protection and dignity of human life from conception to death, protection of the marital bond between a man and a woman, and the protection of religious freedom.
On a practical level, voters have many resources at their disposal to assess the viability of candidates for national and local office. They can review voting records, consult reliable organizations who do factual comparisons, read party platforms and perhaps connect with candidates directly to get a feel for how candidates will perform while in office.
Catholics, though, need to take their research a step further, Mrs. LeDoux said. They need to understand where candidates stand on the “non-negotiables,” starting with the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
“Remember the non-negotiables and the primacy of the right to life,” she said. “Abortion is the most fundamental issue.”
In summation, Mrs. LeDoux said, Catholics should use the church as their guide in their voting decisions – particularly as they help decide a presidential race that has challenged people’s sensibilities in so many ways.
“We want to help dispel some of the confusion that’s out there, or some of the uncertainty,” she said, “by knowing that we have principles that we can go back to that we can use to help inform and develop our conscience.”
The Catholic Free Press and the diocesan Respect Life Office hosted a four-part series on Conscience and the Catholic Voter. The diocesan TV Ministry videotaped the talks and they are now available for viewing. Election Day is Nov. 8. Please take the time to watch the videos.
Bishop McManus – ‘The Catholic voter: Called to faithful
citizenship’ | www.vimeo.com/185898595
Allison LeDoux – ‘Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom: Pillars of a Nation’s Soul’ | www.vimeo.com/189189319
Frances X. Hogan – ‘How and Why One’s Faith Should Impact One’s Vote in this Extraordinary Election Year’ | www.vimeo.com/188236152
Christopher Klofft – ‘Thinking seriously about the five
non-negotiables’ | www.vimeo.com/184951841