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10-21-16 THE BISHOP'S VOICE: The role of conscience in voting: Part 3

By MOST REV. MICHAEL J. SHERIDAN, S.Th.D.
10/21/2016 | Comments

In the course of this presidential election cycle I have given two public addresses to Catholics on responsible voting. Given the tenor of the presidential campaigns, I was not surprised to hear many people say, “I don’t know who to vote for,” or “I don’t think I’ll vote at all.”

Not a few in the audience, seeking some kind of guidance, asked, “Bishop, how will you vote?” This is my personal answer to that question, based on searching my conscience and reviewing the teachings of our Catholic Church.

First, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that neither of the two major presidential candidates is perfect. This has been true in every presidential race in my lifetime. This year, however, it seems that both candidates have positioned themselves about as far from perfection as possible. Given the provocative and insensitive tone of the debates, the tweets, the Facebook postings, the interviews, etc. etc., I had to move beyond the candidates and the often offensive nature of their rhetoric, and turn to the platform that each is running on.

Once again, neither platform supports perfectly those values that are so important to Catholics — and many other people: the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death; embryonic stem cell research; marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman; respect for God’s creation of man and woman, with no confusion on His part of their gender identity; the God-given right of every citizen to practice his or her religion without interference of government — or mockery by representatives of the political parties.

Of course, there are other important issues in this election, such as the future of the Supreme Court, immigration reform, school choice, health insurance costs and more; but there are none as important as those noted above. Here it is vitally important that we know the party platforms. They could not be clearer in dealing with the crime of abortion. See the comparison of the platforms on a number of issues on pages 10- 11 of this issue of The Colorado Catholic Herald. Compare, also, the party positions on marriage, medical research, Planned Parenthood, and many other issues.

Based on the published party platforms, I had to eliminate one of the candidates from my consideration because of that candidate’s wholehearted embrace of abortion “rights.” The words of Pope St. John Paul II are helpful: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination” (Christifideles Laici).

Having rejected one of the candidates, I had to decide whether or not I would vote for the other. Some voters may find themselves unable, in conscience, to vote for either candidate. We must respect those decisions. For my part, since I take very seriously the responsibility to vote whenever possible, I will vote for the party platform that best stands for life, liberty, marriage and authentic Christian anthropology. Once again, these planks are non-negotiable.

When all of this done, I will pray that the candidate who received my vote will, in fact, do all that is possible to carry out what the party platform avows.

In addition to the many life issues at the national level, here in Colorado we are faced with a particularly insidious attack on human life: physician-assisted suicide. On the ballot it will appear as Proposition 106. Framed deceptively as an act of mercy and respect for human rights, this proposed legislation is still suicide, the deliberate taking of human life. Please go to www.votenoprop106. com for information regarding the dangers of this very flawed legislation. Both The (Colo. Springs) Gazette and The Denver Post have opposed Prop 106.

To my fellow Catholics I say don’t let your faith be simply an idea. Put it into practice. Vote as a Catholic for God’s sake and for the sake of all our brothers and sisters. Let’s reject the culture of death and choose life.


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