With Election Day approaching, I think its important to clarify what Pope Benedict XVI has called the non-negotiable moral principles. I want to first start with a letter that was published recently in my local newspaper, The Providence Journal by a self identified "Catholic" voter.
My conscience as a Catholic voter
Conscience and voting have been the the topic of concern throughout the Catholic community as well as many other religious communities. Seeking to establish a clear and informed conscience, I have concluded:
* To gut many safety-net programs for the poor, the handicapped and the elderly would be contrary to the Vatican II declaration of "preferential option for the poor."
* To force us as citizens to make the lives of illegal immigrants who have not committed any other crime in our country so miserable that "they will want to leave on their own," flies in the face of our commitment to charity and the corporal works of mercy.
* To remove the long-overdue opportunities for so many more of our citizens to receive health care is blatantly unjust in our democratic society. Trying to justify this just to satisfy a "teaching" that all contraceptives are either a means of abortion or at least contrary to the unfounded notion that intercourse between husband and wife must be with the accepted knowledge that a pregnancy might result is wrong.
Our Catholic leaders' role is to persuade; not to control. And the range of persuasion is to its own and those who might be interested. Many Catholic institutions employ large numbers of non-catholic people.
* To believe that running our country like a huge corporation will result in millions of new jobs, increase in wages and major reduction of debt in four years is, to say the least, unrealistic.
* To think that our modern world of global communication and myriads of governments and religions will be convinced by military domination is naive and dangerous.
Thus with a clear and informed conscience (which my Catholic Church teaches is the bottom line for any decision-making) I will vote for another term for President Obama.
This is my reply letter which was published the following day:
This is in response to the letter by Ray H__ , “A Catholic's Vote”, published on the Providence Journal on October 31, 2012. While the issues of safety net programs for the poor, illegal immigration, and healthcare are all very important, Mr. Hodges own remarks demonstrate that his conscience is not as well informed on Catholic doctrine as he thinks it is.
Pope Benedict XVI has stated repeatedly that there are three non-negotiable moral principles that should come before all other issues in politics. Those principles are the protection of human life, the protection of traditional marriage and family, and religious freedoms. President Obama has failed miserably on these three issues. Ray H. is correct that the Catholic Church teaches about the primacy of the conscience. But that applies to a conscience well formed by Catholic teachings grounded in moral and natural law. By this standard, no Catholic in good conscience can justify voting for Obama because of his disregard for these moral principles.
Secondly, Ray H__'s comments such as “gutting safety net programs” and removing healthcare demonstrates that his political beliefs are not formed by the Catholic Church or Vatican II documents but by the falsehoods of a Presidential administration that has been an abysmal failure over the last four years.
I shared this to highlight how so many Catholics are in denial , misinformed, or poorly catechized about these moral issues. I agree that issues like aiding the poor, illegal immigration, and healthcare are all very important matters which deserve consideration when voting. However, the three non-negotiable moral principles, mentioned in my letter above, are the foundation stones which all others are built upon. When these are not properly respect and come under attack, society and all other issues will greatly falter as is clearly evidenced by what is happening in our nation today.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI as well as Blessed John Paul II have spoken and written extensively on the utmost importance of these moral principles. Unfortunately many Catholics and non-Catholics alike have yet to open their minds and hearts to this truth. Please pray for our nation during these final days before the election that all people and especially our newly elected leaders will embrace these principles and rebuild a culture of life. I have included links below to a voting guide on EWTN.com based on these moral principles and to a speech given by Pope Benedict in 2006 in Europe regarding these same issues. Please share this information with others.