What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: October 25, 2012
We live in arguably the most privileged nation in the history of the world.
We are blessed not simply in the abundant resources that are ours, not merely in the vastness of our territory, not only in the stability of our institutions, but because every four years we can decide once again the direction that this nation will take into its future.
We are blessed because we can determine in a democratic process, without violent revolutions, without armed conflict, without personal political reprisals, what our tomorrows will be. Our ability to change our nation through the secret ballots that we cast is a blessing few other nations have ever so long enjoyed. That is why it is such an important responsibility that every citizen bears to engage in the political process that decides our future.
Our Catholic faith teaches that voting is not only a privilege, it is a sacred responsibility that we bear.
In order to accomplish that task, we must be informed and knowledgeable about the great issues that we face as a nation and as a world leader. Not all of those issues are of equal importance, not all of them have immediate personal consequence, but all of them taken together impact us both today and will do so tomorrow. The first in order of priority of those issues is the dignity of all human life. From the tiniest life within the human womb to the fragile life of the elderly and infirm, each human life enjoys an inalienable self-worth that comes from the hand of God. Because each human life is sacred, it follows that those whose lives are most at risk deserve our special attention—those waiting to be born, and once they have been born, then the poor, the immigrant, those who are subject to mistreatment and abuse by systemic structures or through personal attack.
Workers and laborers have a right to a just and living wage and to working conditions that do not jeopardize their health or well-being.
The environment that we hold in trust for future generations must be protected and guarded against the pollution and exploitation that comes from excessive and wasteful mismanagement. And today, the most basic unit of the human community—the family itself—is being subjected to the politicized agenda of those who seek to make the human genders not merely equal in dignity but identical in law.
The bishops of the United States have jointly issued a statement on these vital concerns entitled: “The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” This resource is available on the USCCB website (www.usccb.org/issues-and-actions/faithful-citizenship) and hopefully has been included or summarized in your parish bulletins or can be found on parish websites, as well as on our archdiocesan website (www.archatl.com).
We bishops believe that this statement describes the comprehensive range of social and moral concerns that every Catholic should consider as you exercise your responsibility in voting for our public elected officials. These are crucially important issues that will impact our nation and our Church, and they deserve your careful attention, knowledge and support. Religious liberty itself and the free exercise of the social and moral teachings of our Church have been challenged even in this land of freedom.
I urge all of you to focus carefully on the issues that are now at stake.
There are many conflicting voices that compete for your attention in today’s campaign environment. Some might suggest that there is only one issue worthy of your attention. Some may suggest that all of the moral and social issues are of uniform importance. Some individuals or organizations might even be obnoxious or offensive in their approach or in the presentation of their message—political campaigns often bring out the best and occasionally the worst in some of us.
When all of the campaigning is exhausted, when the polls and surveys have had their say, when the commercials are finally silenced, you must stand at the voting booth and cast a ballot that will be your contribution to this nation’s future. May you do so fully informed and inspired by our Catholic faith and in protection of the religious freedoms that have made this a truly great country.