Ahh, the season of football, baseball playoffs, and elections. What a great time of year!

Politics is not a dirty word. Catholics engage in the political process because “we are called to take an active part in public life; we embrace it, discuss it, live it. Practicing our faith in the public arena and engaging in politics is a religious freedom to be cherished and a way of being disciples of Jesus Christ.

When we Catholics vote, we ask: how do we prioritize God in our Country? Are we single-issue voters or are we considering the breadth of the issues? Do we seek to advance the common good?

At the heart of the common good lie justice, peace and liberty, which define the moral character of society. Therefore, by seeking the common good, we influence the moral character of society. This responsibility must be taken seriously, wielding the tool of a well-formed and faithful conscience.

Catholics may choose different ways to advance the common good, yet we must carefully discern which public policies are morally sound. Each person has a moral responsibility to continually form his or her conscience by truth and justice in order to be authentically animated by love. Each person must understand that both opposing evil and doing good are essential obligations. It is a life-long journey where we never stop learning and advancing.

Voting is a decision each Catholic makes, guided by a well-formed conscience, to promote the common good. Working for the common good requires us to know and practice the whole faith, not just the parts we like. Not just the parts embraced by our party affiliation.

It is true, not all issues are equally important. Not all issues carry the same moral weight. We cannot differ on our obligation to protect human life and dignity, to build through moral means a more just and peaceful world. Catholics may choose different ways to respond to social problems, but our principles are non-negotiable, even when the details are sticky.

What are these principles? Respect for life and human dignity; stewardship of creation; justice for the oppressed; food to the hungry; protection for strangers; a hunger and thirst for righteousness; families defended and strengthened, and a commitment to peacemaking. Not all issues are equally important but all principles are connected. Everything is connected, a concept grasped by a well-formed conscience faithful to Church teaching, and a just, peaceful and free society.

Lord God, as the election approaches,

We seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country,



and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness



so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,

one and equal in dignity,

especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.



We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,

Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit,

Amen.

Cato is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Portland. Fr. Libra, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, is director of pro-life activities in the archdiocese.