Election season can be heartburn-inducing for many Catholics. We risk understating our situation by saying simply that the fullness of our faith isn’t reflected in American politics, and we can feel out of place in either party. Couple that reality with the high stakes of a presidential election and the associated doom-and-gloom rhetoric, and some of us may feel paralyzed, unable to participate.
Inaction isn’t an option, though! Our faith tells us we must engage. Rather than view politics as hopeless or dirty work, think about Pope Francis’ description in Evangelii Gaudium: "Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good” (no. 205).
Engaging in American politics through faith-based action can inspire hope as we become convinced that we can make positive change in a country resistant to it. Luckily, we have plenty of resources to help us engage faithfully in the political process this November:
- Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:A starting point for getting yourself in the right mindset. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published this document and corresponding videos to help us “bring the richness of our faith to the public square.” Our participation is all about bringing the Gospel to life on Earth. To do that, we must engage in politics as the process that structures society and promotes the common good. This is why the bishops write, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation” (no. 13). To be political, however, is not to be partisan; as the bishops continue, “The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable”(no. 14).
- 2020 Feast of St. Francis Program: It’s fitting that election season, which can be so divisive, coincides with the Season for Creation (Sept.1-Oct. 4th,) which aims to bring Christians together to heal our relationships with both the Creator and all of Creation. The Covenant is offering the 2020 Feast of St. Francis program to celebrate the season. The program is framed around St. Francis’ famous prayer, the Canticle of Creatures, to illuminate our current journey from the pandemic, from indifference to climate change, from political partisanship, to a place of healing and reconciliation with God, with each other, and with the rest of Creation. The program ends by offering ways to act, especially through courageous conversations with people in our immediate circles (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) about how Catholic teaching on creation care might inform voting discernment.
- Pledge to Vote with Catholic Values:Of all the concrete actions you could take to support the Season of Creation and engage faithfully in the election, the simplest could also be the most important: Voting! Just as St. Francis of Assisi demonstrated throughout his life, we too must put our love into action.Catholic Climate Covenant invites all Catholics to display love in action this Season of Creation by pledging to vote. You can take Catholic Climate Covenant’s Pledge to Vote with Love in Action HERE.- Make a pledge to vote to promote our Catholic values today!
- Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Voting is an Act of Love campaign: “Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.”These powerful words from St. Ignatius of Loyola remind us that casting a ballot can be an act of love—a way to live out the greatest commandments, to love and serve God and to love our neighbor. This resource can especially help you check your voting registration status and register to vote. Remember to plan ahead: voter registration and absentee ballot requests must happen before election day—in some states,weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
- Season of Creation Webinar Series: Catholic Climate Covenant is hosting a webinar series, “On the Common Good & Our Common Home,” for U.S. Catholics to:
- Understand how Catholic social teaching (CST) and creation care are essential to the fullness of faithand the Church’s mission;
- Facilitate courageous conversations about climate change and Catholic civic participation;
- Apply Catholic Social Teaching, including creation care, to form one’s conscience ahead of the 2020 elections.
Learn more, register, and take the journey with us here.
- iVoteCatholic.org: Follow along as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati explores political issues through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. “We are called to live our faith in all aspects of our lives, but – when it comes to voting – this can be difficult. Over the next several weeks, immerse yourself in the Church’s teaching and gain a fuller understanding of the Church’s commitment to a consistent ethic of life which guides us to be advocates for a variety of issues related to life and human dignity.” Week by week leading up to the election, they’ll provide resources, videos, Homily Helps, bulletin inserts, and more, so that local leaders can help prepare their communities to faithfully engage.
- Contemplation and Political Action: An Ignatian Guide to Civic Engagement: This resource from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States engages the Universal Apostolic Preferences (of which Caring for Our Common Home is one) and Ignatian spirituality/discernment to engage pressing national issues like climate change considering the duties of Catholic political participation. To this end, the resource lifts up stories from several Jesuit institutions and apostolates.
Remember: This November, you have the resources to set your heart on fire for justice—not just suffer election-induced heartburn. Thank God for that!