Here at Church of the Holy Spirit, our friend and former Administrator, Fr John Hoffman has prepared a very thoughtful reflection for us. Please take time to read it.
I am grateful to Fr John who calls himself “retired” but I get the impression that he is busier than ever!
Please pray for our country and for a peaceful outcome to the elections this November.
In a month we will have the opportunity, no, the responsibility to vote in our national elections for our next president and members of Congress as well as several other offices “down ballot.” Deciding how to vote or who to vote for is always a challenge for ourselves as Catholics citizens of a democracy.
Some promoting one candidate or one party over others would press hard, sometimes even threaten others to vote for one particular issue above all others. As Catholics with social justice as an essential, constitutive element of our faith, we are challenged to closely look at all the main, fundamental issues at stake in an election. We need to consider a candidate’s position on all of these issues of life and make the difficult choice of which candidate will best uphold them in their role of leadership in our name.
Below are some statements from Pope Francis and others on voting, particularly, single-issue voting.
Reporting on the National Conference of United States Catholic Bishops last November Heidi Schlumpf wrote , Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich had requested that in their Letter, Faithful Citizenship, the bishops quote more extensively from the papal encyclical, Gaudete et Exsultate. In the paragraph Cupich spoke of, the pope criticized the "ideological error" of believing that "the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend."
"Our defense of innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate," continued the pope. "Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection."
In his written request for the longer quotation, Cupich cautioned about those who bring an "ideological mindset" to issues by either "dismissing some issues by labeling them as part of an objectionable political camp or by taking a reductionist approach in defending only one issue."
"From the beginning of his pontificate, Francis has made it clear that the unborn must be defended, but not to the exclusion of other issues of human dignity," Cupich said.
Cupich also had called for changes to a section of the document that he believed gave "singular attention to abortion and does so in language that is tendentious and remarkably different from the treatment of other issues in the lines that follow, as other issues are raised," he wrote. He noted that while the letter mentioned the environment, it did not contain even a full sentence on the climate crisis.
On the matter of immigration, he urged "more candor" on the subject. "We are not dealing simply with an 'absence of comprehensive immigration reform,' but rather a presence of demonizing rhetoric and abusive, violent policy directed at a group of human beings who are denounced as dangerous or worse by top elected officials," Cupich said.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego: "Conscience, Candidates and Discipleship in Voting."
On virtually every question of human life and dignity the growing culture of exclusion in our nation reinforces and propels cleavages that are highly destructive to all the goals that lie in the center of Catholic social teaching. For this reason, many faith filled Catholics believe that in this election cycle the most compelling issue that arises from Catholic social teaching for American voters is the need to repudiate radically this culture of exclusion before it spreads further and leads to new levels of moral paralysis and division… the drive to label a single issue preeminent distorts the call to authentic discipleship in voting… today a faith-filled voter is called to approach voting from a stance of bridge building and healing for our nation.”
Franciscan Father Daniel Horan wrote,
“As another presidential election cycle kicks into higher gear, Catholics and others will begin to select lenses through which to evaluate political candidates — both presidential and down-ballot. Some people will inevitably claim and preach and advertise that a singular anthropocentric life issue, like abortion, is the only political litmus test for judging a candidate. The United States bishops have repeatedly responded to this sort of illogical absolutism, stating directly in their guide to voting: "As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters. A candidate's position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter's support."
As Bishop McElroy writes:… “the drive to label a single issue preeminent distorts the call to authentic discipleship in voting… today a faith-filled voter is called to approach voting from a stance of bridge building and healing for our nation.” May all of us vote, press others to vote and may we be diligent in our soul-searching, voting for the person we believe will be the most able to bring us together and lead our nation, for our world and for our future.
Rev. John Hoffman, Retired