Homilies and Stuff

Vote as a Catholic on October 21, 2019

With Canadians going to the polls this October 21st, it's time for Catholics to do their homework and examine their local candidates' positions on moral issues, and vote according to the principals of their Catholic faith.

Here is a Voters Guide for Serious Catholics published by one of my favourite Catholic organizations (Catholic Answers). It is American, but the moral principals it spells out are universal, and therefore apply equally to our Canadian situation.

Every time an election is called, Campaign Life Coalition puts together a pro-life voter's guide. Here's a link for all supportable candidates based on their position for life.

As Catholics, it is not sufficient to vote simply according to our political party affiliation, or past voting habits, but only in an informed manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching and fundamental human rights. "A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals" (CPL 4).

There are many issues that a voter must consider when casting a ballot, but not all issues rank the same in moral value. Some are simply not negotiable, namely, those that are intrinsically evil (i.e., actions that fundamentally conflict with the moral law and can never be performed under any circumstances). Such issues must never be promoted by law, and Catholics must therefore avoid voting for those who promote them. Among such issues are the following: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, same-sex "marriage". Many other issues may be left to prudential judgement (e.g., the best way to help the poor, to manage the economy, to protect the environment, to handle immigration, and to provide education, health care, and retirement security, etc.). Unlike the five non-negotiable issues above, Catholics can have a diversity of legitimate viewpoints on these sorts of prudential issues and thus have leeway in endorsing or opposing particular policies related to them. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke of this in a document dealing with when Catholics may or may not receive Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, 2004).

Catholics have a serious moral obligation to promote the common good through the exercise of their voting privileges (CCC 2240). It is not only civil authorities who have responsibility for a country. “Service of the common good require[s] citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community” (CCC 2239). Leaving our Catholic faith behind when we go to the ballot box is simply not an option.

Disclaimer: This post is not written for the purpose of endorsing any specific candidate or political party. This post is written to help Catholics in the demands of their faith and it is a form of issue advocacy rather than candidate advocacy. This post is intended to help the reader vote for candidates for public ofiice in a manner consistent with Catholic moral teachings. It is meant to help the reader to narrow down the list of candidates to those who are acceptable based on the non-negotiable issues identified herein.