MADISON -- This election year, Catholics may find it difficult to choose candidates and be tempted not to vote.
However, failure to vote would not be in keeping with Catholic teaching, which emphasizes that faithful citizens should be involved in the political process.
That’s what Barbara Sella told those gathered recently at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Madison for her presentation, “Be Catholic First: Tools for Discerning as We Approach Election 2016.”
Sella is associate director for respect life and social concerns for the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC), the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.
Role to play
Faithful citizens “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines,” she said in quoting Pope Francis. “We have an actual role to play in the politics of our nation.”
Sella said, “The Church emphasizes that our choices have to be grounded in moral principles, and we have to use our prudential judgment based on the values of our faith.
“Forming our conscience is the first step. But we have to form it in line with the teachings of the Church.”
The role of the Church itself is as a “teaching institution.” The bishops and priests teach the laity. “We are the doers,” Sella emphasized.
“The bishops and priests rely on the expertise of lay people.”
This year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is emphasizing four key principles in its materials on Faithful Citizenship (see www.faithfulcitizenship.org):