Catholic voters urged to bring their values to voting booth

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor

As Election Day nears, citizens often become inundated with messages about voting.

Advertisements for political candidates are broadcast on television and radio stations and printed in newspapers. Political yard signs dot neighborhoods. Flyers and brochures fill mailboxes.

Negativity and polarization featured in these ads and the politics behind them can cause people to tune out. However, Catholic teaching calls citizens not to withdraw from politics but rather to speak out for important values, the common good and human dignity.

“If we truly live as faithful Catholics, we cannot leave our faith at the door after Mass on Sunday,” said Kathryn Mollen, policy and outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

“It’s a part of us; it’s a part of the way we choose to live our daily lives, including our public and political lives,” she said at a “From the Pew to the Polls” presentation Oct. 7 at St. Anthony Parish Center in St. Cloud.

Getting involved

Mollen referenced Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said, “A religion that doesn’t interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.”

She also quoted Pope Francis who said: “A good Catholic meddles in politics,” and “Politics, according to the social doctrine of the church, is one of the highest forms of charity because it serves the common good.”

The church can build bridges between political parties, witness to the truth, uphold the dignity of the human person and promote the common good, Mollen said.

vote_flag“Politics will continue to be corrupted by money and power unless virtuous citizens have the courage to come forward and participate,” she said. “It needs witnesses to speak the truth.”

Mollen encouraged Catholics to spend at least one hour each week working to promote human dignity and the common good in politics. This could include educating themselves about issues, forming their consciences, praying, participating in the MCC Catholic Advocacy Network, letter writing, volunteering and talking to one’s family about politics.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference produced a voter guide, which was published in the Sept. 26 issue of The Visitor, highlighting issues important to Catholic social teaching. The issues include religious liberty, immigration, human life, labor and economy, health care, restorative justice, children and families, education and agriculture and the environment. To view the guide online, visit http://visitor.stcdio.org.

Some issues the Minnesota Catholic Conference is following in the legislature include commercial surrogacy, voter restoration, payday lending, immigration and school choice.

In a separate interview with The Visitor, Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, identified issues especially affecting people in the diocese. These include rural poverty, lack of good paying jobs and services in rural areas, and immigration.

“We feel it clearly and sometimes painfully at Catholic Charities when we hear about cuts in state or federal programs because they do affect the people we serve and how well we can do our job,” Langer said. “I also work with the Rural Life Fund and more and more I’m hearing stories about people who can’t afford to fix up their house, can’t afford a washer and dryer when their washer and dryer go out, who can’t afford tires for their car.”

The Minnesota Catholic Conference is offering “From the Pew to the Polls” presentations in every diocese in Minnesota to encourage Catholics to live Gospel values when considering policy issues, decisions and candidates.

In addition to the Oct. 7 presentation at St. Anthony Parish Center, an additional one was offered the same day at Mary of the Visitation Church in Big Lake.

Another presentation will be 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at St. Paul Church in Sauk Centre.

For more information and resources go to http://www.mncc.org.