Election Day 2012 in the United States is only days away. While there are many who just can’t wait for all the political ads to disappear and the partisan discussions to finally be over with (at least for now), we cannot lose sight of the real, and potentially dangerous, consequences of this election.
This election, on the national, state and local levels, isn’t just about economic growth, tax returns and lofty speeches. This election is about life and death, the protection of the sacred institution of marriage and our fundamental rights to live our faith.
American Catholics are in the spotlight this election. This is the first time in history that both vice presidential candidates from the two major political parties are Catholic. It’s also the first time in history Catholic dioceses and institutions across the country have sued the federal government under an administration where the Catholic Vice President and Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services are leading an assault against the First Amendment rights of Catholics and the moral teachings of the Church.
When Joe Biden says that he and President Obama “share the values of Catholics” even as their administration is the defendant in the largest collection of religious lawsuits in U.S. history, you can be sure there is some confusion among Catholic voters.
Politicians and the media have, intentionally or not, stoked this confusion among Catholics in the United States on what the Church teaches, and what Catholic voters should be most concerned about. The Church itself is very clear in its teaching, but the truth of the Church’s message can be lost in the deluge of political ads and speeches aimed at getting votes. In these critical days leading up to the election, it’s imperative that we reach out to our friends and family members to explain the non-negotiables for Catholic voters.
Catholics must be aware of the five non-negotiables (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and the redefinition of marriage) which are intrinsic evils that cannot be supported. Voting to limit evil on these moral issues far outweighs any position on economic policy or issue of government-provided financial assistance in any election. Voting for a candidate who favors and supports any of the five non-negotiables could lead one to be morally complicit with promoting these intrinsic evils, putting one’s soul in jeopardy, as Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay courageously said last week.
In addition to voting to limit the evils of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and the redefinition of marriage, Catholics going into the election booth on Tuesday should be aware of the very real threat to our religious freedom. This past January, Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from the United States:
[I]t is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness … Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
To combat this threat, the Holy Father called for “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity … with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.” But we cannot rely solely on the bishops, or even the priests at the pulpit, to form the laity. Each of you reading this must be engaged in helping to form our brothers and sisters in Christ to limit the evil that can be done by those in places of political power.
As Mark Twain once said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Sadly many of our Catholic brethren have been fooled into thinking that tax rates are more important than a human life in the womb, the dignity of the elderly and disabled, the sacredness of true marriage between a man and a woman and the freedom to openly practice the faith of Our Lord. It’s up to us to change that.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
Before November 6, I challenge you to talk with those in your parish, your community and in your home and encourage them to have a properly formed conscience on these issues before entering the election booth. There are several resources to help you in this challenge that can be found on Human Life International’s website. I hope you will take advantage of these and other resources to ensure that life, faith and family are protected on Election Day.
As the saying goes, work like it all depends on you, pray as if it all depends on God.
LifeNews Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. This column originally appeared at its WorldWatch Forum and is reprinted with permission.