Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

As we face the upcoming midterm elections in November, Catholics are called upon once again to participate in the political process by going to the polls to cast their votes. But how do we, as Catholics, decide for whom to cast a ballot?  

The U.S. bishops have put together a guide for Catholic voters to use to help form their conscience so that they can actively participate in the democratic process and help shape the moral character of our society. “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” is the bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics. It offers guidance for Catholics on how to exercise their rights and duties as participants in U.S. democracy.  
The document does not instruct Catholics for whom or against whom they should vote. The purpose of the document is to “help Catholics inform their consciences in accordance with God’s truth.” The bishops recognize that a single document alone is insufficient to form one’s conscience, and state that this document is “intended to complement, not substitute for, the ongoing teaching of bishops in our own dioceses and state.”  After all, developing a well-formed conscience is a lifelong task.

In the Catholic tradition, participation in the political arena is a moral obligation and Catholics should “as far as possible…take an active part in public life.” The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them develop a well-formed conscience, encouraging the virtues of prudence and civility, and by helping to guide them to do good and avoid evil.

Over the next few months, the MCC will be featuring portions of Faithful Citizenship in order to familiarize our network with the document.  More in-depth information about it is available online and we encourage our Missouri Catholic Advocacy Network (MOCAN) members to take advantage of these materials, which include videos and podcasts in both English and Spanish.

Our next MCC Messenger, which will be published ahead of the election in mid-October, will also dive into the Faithful Citizenship guide.