What It Means To Be A Catholic Voter
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Politics and Activism

What It Means To Be A Catholic Voter

It is our duty to become informed citizens about each candidate's platform, as well as the Faith we profess every Sunday at mass.

What It Means To Be A Catholic Voter

The 2016 presidential election is a hot topic right now for a lot of reasons, but especially because no one knows who to vote for. You have your die-hard Republicans and Democrats that will vote for their party no matter what. Sure, some people have decided which candidate they’re voting for, but according to a recent survey, at least 25 percent of the population remains undecided. Catholics, at least in my social circle, are definitely included in that 25 percent. As Catholics, which candidate do you vote for when there isn’t a clear-cut answer? Do you abstain or choose a candidate you don’t entirely agree with? An even more important question to ask is: what does it mean to be a Catholic voter?

Let’s break this up piece by piece. First of all, what does it mean to be Catholic? All you theology majors could write pages and pages about all that being Catholic entails. But simply put, what does it mean to be Catholic? The word “Catholic” means universal. The Catholic Church is universal, but so are our beliefs, in the sense that they should touch every area of our lives. We’re Catholic when we attend mass on Sundays, as well as when we’re in line at the grocery store. Our beliefs should be evident in all of our actions, including voting.

According to the Catechism, as Catholics, it is our duty to vote. So what do we do when we’re handed an impossible choice, like the 2016 election? I myself have no idea what box I’ll check when November rolls around, or if I should even vote. I’ve asked people around me who they plan on voting for and I’ve received a variety of answers. Some priests have come out with articles endorsing a certain candidate, while others strongly oppose both candidates. No one can seem to agree. So, what do we do?

While the Catechism says that it's our duty to vote, it also says that we are supposed to follow our conscience. Our conscience is something unique to each one of us. We all have a conscience, but it may tell us very different things. We’re even supposed to follow our conscience if it’s wrong. That’s a dangerous thing for the Catechism to say, right? Make a bad decision because your conscience told you to? There’s a catch: we have a duty to form our conscience. We cannot blindly make decisions out of ignorance or laziness. We cannot plead ignorance when we have access to an abundance of sources. This applies to the 2016 election.

As Catholics, we have a duty to find out all that we can about each candidate. Due to modern technology, all we have to do is type in a candidate's name into Google, and it will tell us their platform and voting history. But what kind of issues should matter to a Catholic voter? The Church hasn’t come out with an official statement telling us who to vote for, so can’t we just decide for ourselves?

Although the Church hasn’t told us who to vote for, they have given us plenty of information about issues that should matter to Catholics -- especially when it comes to social justice. The Church staunchly opposes both abortion and gay marriage -- while it promotes religious liberty and the dignity of each human life. These are not nitpicky issues that should be dismissed when choosing a candidate to vote for. We cannot be cafeteria Catholics that pick and choose which Church teachings we want to uphold. The Church is not some old-fashioned institution that’s hell-bent on policing our lives. Each doctrine is measured against Truth. We each have our own personal truths, that are individual to each one of us and our own experiences. But the teachings of the Church are rooted in “capital T” Truths, which are Jesus himself.

Similarly, when we’re casting our ballots we must look to the source of Truth as a guide, because our votes matter. Catholicism is the largest religious body in the United States, making up 22 percent of the population. We must stand together as a Church and vote for the candidate that will uphold and protect our Catholic beliefs. It is our duty to become informed citizens about each candidate's platform, as well as the Faith we profess every Sunday at Mass. Finally, we must remember that although things may seem grim, the Lord is working through this election. No storm is too big for the Lord, not even hurricane Clinton or Trump.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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