Our responsibilities as faithful citizens Print
Thursday, Sep. 04, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

We are being bombarded with news and ads about the presidential election and the political parties' conventions. As citizens of the United States, we know that involvement in the political process and voting are important responsibilities.

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

I don't know about you, but I'm already suffering from political overload. Just imagine how we'll feel by November 4!

As Catholics, however, we can't sit idly by during the election season. We have an obligation to go beyond the rhetoric to educate ourselves as faithful citizens on the candidates and the issues.

Information in the Catholic Herald

In the nine weeks before the November 4 elections, the Catholic Herald will be offering readers as much information as we can on issues facing voters. Starting with the September 11 issue, the Catholic Herald will be publishing a seven-part voter education series prepared by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC). This series will focus on the moral priorities identified by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their 2007 statement on Faithful Citizenship. The Catholic Herald will also carry articles by Catholic News Service detailing how the political parties and candidates stand on key issues.

The information we provide will help Catholic voters reflect on how their faith and the political issues of the day intersect, points out John Huebscher, WCC executive director. He observes that these materials will not tell anyone how to vote. "Nor will they answer every question or probe every issue of concern to faithful citizens. But they will offer a good place to start," he said.

The WCC has also developed a question card that voters can use when questioning candidates running for state office. The card and other voter education materials are available at

Power of prayer

Besides education, another way we can prepare for the elections is through the power of prayer. The U.S. bishops have developed a special "Novena for Faithful Citizenship" for Catholics to pray for justice, peace, and life.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has made the novena available for download from the Internet as a podcast at It will be available until the November 4 election.

The special novena is part of "the bishops' campaign to help Catholics develop well-formed consciences for addressing political and social questions," said Joan Rosenhauer of the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development.

The "Novena for Faithful Citizenship" runs for nine days. It can be used consecutively, one day each week (starting the first week of September), for nine days prior to the election (starting on October 26), or in any way that works best for a community or individual.

Facing challenges

Our country faces many political challenges that demand urgent moral choices, the bishops pointed out in their 2007 Faithful Citizenship document: "We are a nation at war, with all of its human costs; a country often divided by race and ethnicity; a nation of immigrants struggling with immigration. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty; part of a global community confronting terrorism and facing urgent threats to our environment; a culture built on families, where some now question the value of marriage and family life. We pride ourselves on supporting human rights, but we fail even to protect the fundamental right to life, especially for unborn children."

Through its teachings, the Catholic Church helps Catholics make sound moral choices in addressing these challenges. With the Church's help, faithful citizens will exercise their conscience and make political decisions. We hope the Catholic Herald will help its readers make those decisions in the weeks before the November 4 election.