To Vote or Not?

To Vote or Not?

by Gary Potter
July 1, 2016

The full force of the nation’s quadrennial general-election campaign season is about to hit us. It will not occur to the majority of the nation’s voters who identify as Catholic to assess candidates in the light of teachings of the Faith. It never does. The proof is how they have voted throughout the twentieth century and now into this one, and especially since the so-called “social issues” began to figure in elections. When has it ever been as they ought? However, a minority who are serious about their practice of the religion will wonder whom they should vote for, or even whether they should vote at all, in the light of Church teaching. They would appreciate some guidance. It exists.

The most recent authoritative Vatican document concerning Catholics and electoral politics was promulgated by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, was its prefect. The document’s title: “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”

There is a line in the document that liberals within Catholicism like to cite as if after 2,000 years the Church has finally decided that a particular form of government, democracy, is so superior to all others that no other should exist. The Church has not decided that, nor will she ever. The reason she will not can be easily explained but will be left for another occasion. We don’t want to be diverted here from what “Doctrinal Note” has to say.

Here is the line liberals like to cite: “The Church recognizes that democracy is the best expression of the direct participation of citizens in political choices.” Now, two things ought to be obvious: 1) democracy is the best expression of the direct participation of citizens in political choices, but 2) the statement is not the same as saying citizens should always participate in political choices or that their participation should always be direct. Further, if the statement is quoted in its entirety and in context, a radically different picture begins to emerge than is given by our first impression – the one liberals intend when they cite the line incompletely and out of context.

The entire statement: “The Church recognizes that while democracy is the best expression of the direct participation of citizens in political choices, it succeeds only to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person.” That person, according to the document, has a “duty to be morally coherent,” which is to say he should not try to lead two separate lives, a so-called “secular” one and a so-called “spiritual” or “religious” one.

“In fact,” we read, “every one of the faithful’s lives, as different as they are, enters in the plan of God…where the love of Christ is revealed and realized both for the glory of the Faith and service of others.” This is the “correct understanding of the human person” on which the success of democracy is to be judged, and “Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle.”

Those words, “cannot compromise on this principle,” want to be underlined because “in this context it must be noted that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Thus it is that there are moral principles that “do not permit of exception, compromise or derogation” because what is at stake is “the essence of the moral law which concerns the integral good of the human person.” Political programs and individual laws that bear on “abortion and euthanasia,” on the “rights of the human embryo,” on “monogamous marriage between a man and woman” or the freedom of parents “regarding the education of their children” and also on society’s “protection of minors” – all these, the document specifies, touch on the moral principles that “do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation.”

One can imagine so-called conservatives, persons on the right wing of our national liberalism who see voting as a civic duty, criticizing the Vatican document for not suggesting, let alone specifying, what the Catholic citizen is to do when he has no choice between candidates who espouse the kind of programs and laws which “contradict the contents of faith and morals.” However, isn’t it perfectly clear? Once again: “A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

Let’s put this another way. Try to imagine the nomination of a major party, or even a minor existing one whose candidate manages to make it onto the ballot of all the states, being secured by someone who calls for an end to no-fault divorce, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t he (or she) be the candidate for whom a Catholic should vote? Well, which candidate is that?

Of course there is always “the lesser of two evils” as long as we ignore it is still evil.

Nothing said here is meant to suggest that an election is not important. It certainly is. The outcome of the one this year will determine how Americans live for years to come. What is being said is that as long as they live in a society governed by liberal notions of liberty as the freedom to do whatever is humanly possible, including evil as the Church knows it to be, equality of all persons in the exercise of such liberty, as well as the equality of religious beliefs (or non-belief), and the perfectibility of man, Catholics every election season will be trapped in a quandary from which there is only one escape: the conversion of the nation to one whose rulers will enact laws that conform to God’s will.

Is such conversion as unlikely as a genuinely Christian candidate for national office in today’s circumstances? That is not true. We know it is not because God wishes it. He made that clear when He was incarnate. “Make disciples of all the nations” was the last commandment His followers heard direct from His lips. The important question, then, is not how or whether we may vote, but what are we doing, each of us, to fulfill Our Lord’s last commandment?

I have summarized “Doctrinal Note.” Readers can find the entire document archived on the Vatican’s website.

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13 comments on “To Vote or Not?

  1. Millions of ineligible voters living and dead will go overwhelmingly for Democrats. Tens of thousands of votes will be cast on behalf of registered voters without their knowledge–mostly for Democrats. Not voting makes such fraudulent ballot count. Don’t like Trump? Vote to nullify a fake vote for Clinton. It’s like helping a robbery victim recover what was stolen from him. Be a Good Samaritan.

  2. I would not advise anyone to not vote but I would say do not vote for evil whether for a person or an agenda. That’s increasingly more difficult to do in these times. But always remember, God is in charge, not us.

  3. The statement that “democracy is the best expression…”is not a doctrinal statement. It is just a human opinion. A Teaching if the Church would be a statement valid always and everywhere. Of course, if one qualifies voting and candidates, it is
    intrinically ” anti-democratic” to say one idea, based on moral choice is better than another, since by nature everyone has his own subjective religion and morality, especially in a pluralistic society such as the US. That is why liberals love “diversity”. The more “diversity”, the less chance of running government with moral consensus.
    As far as voting in this election, Mr Trump is a better candidate, since he is running and perhaps for the first time in pro-Enlightenment US history, is introducing the idea of limiting “diversity”. Even if his concept of morality is not Catholic, it sets a precedent and puts the forces of egalitarianism and “diversity” on the defensive. He also gives America the chance to grow positively without the Zionist neo-nazi Evangelicals as the only alternative (pseudo-conservative)to guide US policy. The US has a chance to stop being the world bully with the Democrat policy of world intervention on European and Middle East events; events and countries that Americans are far away from and dont understand. Mexicans too would be better off in the long run, because all its good and hardworking people and also Mexican intellectuals and middle classes would stop running away from their country and invest in Mexico, and not depend on a better life on a transnational, global world monetary and political order.

  4. Trump isn’t perfect, but he’s a whole lot better than Hillary (or Biden, Kerry or whoever else the Democrats will nominate at the Convention if by some small chance Hillary gets indicted).
    Supreme Court nominees, defending the borders, even defending Christians from the Muslims and the liberals here in the USA I’ll go with Trump. Voted for him in the primary, and I’ll vote for him in the general. While also praying for his conversion to Catholicism.

  5. A Catholic certainly may vote for Trump. While he’s done everything to discourage me, I’ll likely do that, i.e., vote against HRC. Trump isn’t a pro-abort ideologue, so that’s a big plus. He might dismantle the ObamaCare death panels; HRC will do the opposite. He will likely revamp our border security, which will be good. While he’s soft on queerdom, he’s not a queer himself. (Being queer would disqualify anyone for my vote, no matter if he pledged to make abortion illegal or whatnot.)

    BTW, I never voted for Dubya — just sat it out. I feel totally vindicated on that. He was as bad a Fabian Socialist warmonger spendthrift as one could imagine. (Yes, Hussein, a black nationalist socialist, is worse. So what?) Trump, a cad and ogre, is a much better choice than Dubya. So, someone who voted for Bush II should have no problem voting for DJT.

  6. It is certain that Hillary’s policies would be anti-life, anti-Catholic, and brutal. That Trump may seem brash and vulgar to the Establishment RINOsaurs does not remove the moral burden to vote against Hillary and for the candidate who could defeat her in the election. It may seem distasteful for the those irritated by Trump but there is a moral duty to prevent Hillary from getting into the White House. If some are voicing concerns about Trump being vulgar, consider the prospects of Bill Clinton and his cigars back in the White House with Hillary and her anti-life feminazi gangsters poised to make Supreme Court appointments. The Supreme Court issue alone is sufficient to vote for Trump against Hillary. Those like George Will, Romney, Mark Levin, or Paul Ryan, making anti-Trump noise to confuse and blur this aspect of the election which will define the direction of the Supreme Court and the country for the rest of our lives are in serious intellectual error. Bottom line: you have to vote against Hillary and her crazy policies. That means pulling the lever for Trump in November. Whatever flaws he may have, Hillary’s monstrous anti-life socialism, pro-abortionism, and open border policies would destroy what is left of this country. That is certain. It would be morally wrong to allow that to happen by sitting at home on election day or voting for an implausible third-party candidate with no chance of stopping Hillary. Stop Hillary in 2016.

    The Senate and the Congress can argue over specifics with Trump once Hillary is safely returned to private life, cattle futures speculation, and Clinton Foundation shakedowns and chicanery. Don’t let what happened in Benghazi happen to America by letting that shrill, sleazy, low-estrogen witch get into the White House. Just imagine listening to that low-estrogen voice for four years. American children should be spared that agony. It would be VERY unhealthy for American boys to have to grow up in a country emasculated by that crazy, miserable woman.

  7. Hildabeast walks so reports Trump and ” Sources ” !! Is the Clinton Fix In ? Standby, this is about to get good. I am waiting for the first cone head to come out and endorse her, now that her legal problems are over ! Ha Ha !

  8. [At least one bishop is getting close]

    From: Trump v. Clinton matchup has Catholic leaders scrambling

    Michael O’Loughlin
    May 9, 2016
    KofC “partnered” CRUX CONTRIBUTOR

    As the election progresses, it’s unlikely that the Catholic hierarchy will weigh-in on the specific candidates. But some bishops have spoken out on issues important to the church, including immigration, in comments that seem aimed at Trump.

    Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, for example, said recently that the political conversation about immigration had turned ugly.

    “I think some of the rhetoric coming out of this campaign is deplorable,” Wester told the Associated Press. “It’s scapegoating and targeting people like the immigrant, the refugee and the poor.”

    • His Excellency is already on good terms with Hillary. When he was bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah …

      In 2010, Wester co-authored a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcoming President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, but urging a “moral transition” that included the resettlement of millions of Iraqi refugees and displaced persons.

      “The withdrawal of U.S. combat forces means the U.S. needs to help enable the Iraqi government to promote security within Iraq, especially for vulnerable minority communities like Christians,” the letter said.

      [Then came ISIS]

  9. As it looks like the Cash Cow of Taxpayers Money could run dry, the squealing of self righteous indignation will heighten ! This is only the beginning from the piglets at the trough, milking the tax payers, while helping to destroy this great Country by breaking the immigration laws under the guise of “helping the poor ” ! Sanctuary Cities are illegal, as well are illegal immigrants. All that you clowns in the UCCCB, are doing , is furthering the Obama/ Alinsky Agenda to ruin the US and turn it into a Marxist Hell Hole . Great Men died so we could be free and you idiots in the Church are trying to destroy our liberty to fund a worthless organiztion that you have become ! As Paul Rever cried out, The Red Sashs are coming ! Happy 4 th ! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • Hey 747 — Happy 4th to you, too. I thought of you today. As the Gay Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts doesn’t allow fireworks, I simply went to the range for some target practice. Happiness is a warm gun.

      • Happy Fourth to you also and God Bless ! I went to the range also ! You never know where a rag head will pop up and decide it his day to go visit the 72 virgins club. I would like to help him arrange the meeting before any innocent people get hurt ! A sad commentary on what is happening to our Great Country.

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