Sunday, November 04, 2012

Catholic Identity and Politics

I caught a portion of Sunday Night Live on EWTN this past weekend. The presentation seemed to be making a case that many Catholics have a corrupted or defective identity as Catholics when it comes to making politics decisions. Since I was unable to stay with the program until a punchline or summary my comments are those triggered by this brief snapshot and not a comment on the show or its conclusions.

As a 'more than weekly' Mass participant and in a vocation engaged in teaching and preaching the Church's beliefs I have no major doubts about my Catholic identity. My perception is that the bigger problem for Catholic citizens is that the neither major party has an identity consistent with Catholic teaching and neither candidate for President espouses a program consistent with Catholic teaching.

Two Sundays  ago I reviewed the bishop's document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" at all masses including the Bishop's statement,

"In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation." (Intro:12)

I have voted in thirteen Presidential elections since being old enough to vote. In nine of these elections I felt that my choice was basically a 'best of two bad choices' vote. Over the years my votes has gone about equally to candidates of both major parties. I believe it has been 36 years since I enthusiastically supported a nominated candidate for President.

Then today my copy of "Columbia" arrived and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the KCs, has an essay entitled "What Every Catholic Can Do to Transcend Partisanship". He calls upon Catholic voters to "refuse to support candidates that support policies that are intrinsically evil" going so far as to "withhold their vote from both candidates for a particular office."  ("Columbia", Nov 2012, pg.11)

That presents a bit of a conflict. It's my moral obligation to vote (Bishops) but maybe I should withhold my vote (KCs). Since in nine of thirteen presidential elections I found that neither major candidate measured up to my Catholic view of social justice and human rights yet I formed a prudential judgment as to which candidate would do the least harm to persons globally and domestically, to make that private decision.

Sadly several of the 'best of worst', from both major parties, were winners that fell far short of my modest prudential (and Catholic) expectations during their terms. Would the world be better had I abstained in 70% of the presidential elections of my lifetime?

No comments: