Five Priorities for this Presidential Election
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached this homily Oct. 28, 2012, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
In today’s Gospel Jesus gives sight to a blind man. One of my duties as your bishop is, in the words of Vatican II (Christus Dominus, 12) “to teach those truths the ignorance of which is ignorance of Christ himself.”
You are not blind or ignorant, but I still have a duty to help you to form your conscience, especially as you prepare to vote 10 days from now. U.S. law prohibits me from endorsing any candidate or political party, but I can remind you of Church teaching on moral and social matters, and encourage you to vote accordingly.
Some of the moral and social issues to keep in mind this year are, in descending order of what I consider to be their importance and urgency: 1.) the right to life, 2.) religious liberty, 3.) immigration, 4.) marriage and family, and 5.) economic justice.
1.) The Right to Life: Human life is sacred and must be protected from conception to natural death ... no abortion, capital punishment or euthanasia, no embryo-destroying research or cloning. Remember also that many on the Supreme Court are elderly and the next president may have a big role in deciding who will sit on the Court in the future and judge issues of great importance to us going forward.
2.) Religious Liberty: Government cannot licitly require us to do what conscience forbids! The Health and Human Services mandate requiring all employers to provide health insurance that includes free artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs is a direct attack on our practice the Catholic faith, with which Catholic employers cannot in good conscience comply.
And not just Catholic institutions, which is all we hear about in the news -- I’m speaking about Catholic employers in general. Consider carefully which candidates will eliminate this illicit mandate while still working to provide universal health care for those who are presently uninsured.
3.) Immigration: We have the right to immigrate when circumstances so require and to participate fully in the society in which we live. Our current laws deny people these God given rights, exposing 12 million current residents to economic exploitation and fear of deportation. As you decide how to vote, consider also justice for immigrants.
4.) Marriage and the Family: Marriage is the life-long union of one man with one woman. Marriage is an institution marked not only by the union of the couple, but also their openness to bring forth and raise children that are the fruit of their union, or adopted by them.
We must protect the dignity of those with homosexual orientation, but marriage is not the route to achieve this because homosexual intercourse is not marital or moral. Consider which candidates are not confused about the purpose of marriage.
5.) Economic justice: Workers have the right to decent working conditions, must be paid a “living” wage sufficient to provide for the basic needs of their family, and have the right to form unions in order to secure justice for workers -- not very popular topics these days, but Church teaching is clear.
Consider who will work hardest for justice for workers and all those on fixed incomes who are often among those who are most negatively affected by the tax and budgetary decisions made by those who govern us.
Finally, those of us who can vote must keep in mind the needs of those who can’t. Immigrants and babies in the womb have no voice in our elections, but they will be affected profoundly by the decisions of our legislators, as will the poor in other countries.
Since they can’t vote, Christian solidarity requires us to be their voice, ensuring that their concerns are brought to the table. Contrary to what is implied in many political advertisements, our first concern should be what best serves the common good of all, especially the weakest among us and in our world, not merely what best serves our own perceived individual or even national self-interest.
So, examine your conscience before you decide how to vote and if still uncertain, go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where there is a whole section on faithful citizenship. Jesus says that the 2 greatest commandments of the law are that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and that we love our neighbor as ourself ... meaning that everything we do -- including how we vote -- should give glory to God and our neighbor.
And who is our neighbor? Some are immigrants, some are under-paid workers, some are babies in the womb. Others are criminals on death row. Some are US soldiers. Others are civilians living in war-torn countries. Make sure you keep them all in mind as you decide how to vote! And not just on the national level, but on the state and local level as well!