Follow your conscience, vote on November 4 Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

After many months of campaigning and millions of dollars spent, the finish line is in sight for the 2008 election season. 

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

Now, it’s time to head to the voting booth (or vote by absentee ballot). Hopefully, interest in this election will bring greater numbers of citizens to the polls on November 4. 

Voting is a right and a responsibility

For Catholics, voting is both a right and a responsibility. As the U.S. bishops said in their statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2007), “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” The bishops even add that this obligation is “rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.”

So, for Catholics, voting is a big deal. It means we should vote. I would also infer, too, that Catholics should encourage others to vote. This might mean giving someone a ride to the polls, making sure an employee can take time off work to vote, and urging our family members, friends, and co-workers to vote.

How should I vote?

The next question is: How should I vote? The Catholic Church does not tell citizens specifically for whom or against whom to vote. However, the Church does help Catholics form their consciences so that they can make a well-informed choice.

In their 2007 statement, the bishops said, “We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.”

To help our readers form their consciences, the Catholic Herald has offered many articles on “Faithful Citizenship” in the past several months. Our Web site at also offers resources for voters. Of special note is a series of Catholic News Service articles in Spanish that are posted on our Web site.

The bishops emphasize that Catholics are called to make practical judgments regarding doing good and avoiding evil. They especially warn us about direct assaults on innocent human life, including abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war.

After researching the candidates and Church teaching, I suggest we pray for guidance, follow our conscience, and vote on November 4. After the election, let’s continue to keep informed and engaged in political life. The election is not the end but the beginning!