Voting is a civic duty which would seem to bind at least under venial sin whenever a good candidate has an unworthy opponent. It might even be a mortal sin if one’s refusal to vote would result in the election of an unworthy candidate. (Moral Theology n.205. Dublin: Mercier Press, 1929, 1955)
I don’t know if you keep up with current politics or the upcoming election, but since we are in an election year, I think it’s good to remind us all of a few things before we make a choice and elect new representatives and possibly a new president.
What is the “Common good”?
Since the purpose of voting is to foster the common good, the worthiness or unworthiness of a candidate for office can be judged by their promotion of the basic principles of a just social order and their willingness to advance them.
I will also add here we are speaking about the candidate’s public policy and not his or her private life. It is way too easy to attack a persons character, but to attack their policy is prudent and necessary. Does the candidates policies promote an individuals moral and virtuous life or does it promote sin and a degradation of the moral order?
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 1906 it says,
“By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”
The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority.
Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. – Isaiah 5:20
The Catechism goes on to name among the elements of the common good:
1) the fundamental and inalienable natural rights of human persons, (CCC 1907)
2) the basic common goods of society (food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, etc.) (CCC 1908), 3)
and the stability and security that comes with a just social order. (CCC 1909)
Anything that opposes this stability and security of this “just social order” can be determined as an “intrinsic evil”
An Intrinsic evil is any act that is naturally (intrinsic) evil because the act itself is contrary to reason, nature and to God.
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . (Phil. 3:18-21)
In every election cycle there seems to be certain issues that rise in the public’s attention. When certain issues contradict moral, Church teachings it is necessary to educate and remind Catholics that we have a moral responsibility to God and one another, to the “common good” and to “a right ordered society”.
Catholics must remember there are issues that concern actions that are intrinsically evil and conflict with the moral law and must never be promoted by the law! In previous elections you have probably seen Guides that are published which enumerate 5 Intrinsically evil issues being debated in the political arena. There is no limit to the extent of intrinsic evil. The Church speaks out about these evils in its daily mission to preach the Gospel. In 2020 we can add a few new ones but for the sake of brevity we limit ourselves to adding more to the list. Before we get to them here are a few reminders for Catholics to remember when stepping into the voting booth.
*Catholics have a moral obligation to promote the common good through the exercise of their voting privileges (CCC 2240).
*Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.
*A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.
*Some things are always wrong, and no one may deliberately vote in favor of them. Citizens support these evils indirectly if they vote in favor of candidates who propose to advance them.
*Some issues allow for a diversity of opinion, and Catholics
are permitted leeway in endorsing or opposing particular
They say to the seers, “No more visions,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us the truth. Speak to us pleasant words; prophesy illusions. – Isaiah 30:10
The 5 non-Negotiables which ALL Catholics can NOT support are:
3) Embryonic Stem Cell Research
4) Human Cloning
5) Same sex “Marriage”
I will add one more that seems to be confusing society today:
6) Fluid Gender Identity
The Church does not limit herself to objecting to these Moral issues only. Issues such as genocide, terrorism, and torture are also objectively intrinsic evils. The death penalty, war and immigration are issues that can have a legitimate moral purpose. It is that these “limited “issues that seem to be the ones debated the most in today’s Political discussions.
Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. – Luke 11:35
In some political races, each candidate takes a wrong position on one or more issues involving non-negotiable moral principles. In such a case you may vote for the candidate who takes the fewest such positions or who seems least likely to be able to advance immoral legislation.
As Catholics we must promote the good, true and beautiful in society and reject anything that leads to sin.
I hope this helps in some way to make a better informed conscience decision.
Abridged from the “Voters Guide for Serious Catholics”