by Katherine Kirk
SPO New Jersey alumna
Recently I’ve heard a lot of my friends say they are not going to vote this year. As a patriotic American, this hurts my heart. As a Catholic, it boggles my mind.
The Catholic Church has always strongly embraced the idea that not voting is NOT an option, even when you feel the choice you need to make is difficult. In Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II makes it very clear that voting for an imperfect candidate is not a sin. Unless Jesus Christ were to put His name on the ballot this November, you are never going to vote for a perfect candidate.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that our only responsibility when voting is to vote with a well formed conscience. This means understanding yourself, the views of the Catholic Church, and each candidate well enough to make an informed decision. If you feel that you can do that, then good for you! If you don’t feel that way right now, do not worry.
The good news is there is still time to learn all you will need to know to make an informed decision this November, and there are steps you can take to develop a well formed conscience.
Step 1: Know the issues
Now, before you dive head first into an ocean of political chaos, you must know the issues. When I say know the issues, I mean know the current issues that matter to you as a Catholic. To do this, you must first know where you (and the Church) stand on various issues. On certain topics, the Church has a clear and unwavering stance, like being pro-life. Other issues arise in certain elections that require additional consideration. Currently, one important issue to consider when voting in this election is the Supreme Court judges that the next president will have the opportunity to appoint. As a Catholic, it is important to elect a candidate who will nominate a supreme court judge who will value religious freedoms and uphold the Constitution.
Step 2: Stop hearing, start listening
At this point, I’m sure you’ve heard every negative sound byte from every single candidate in this election, and you can thank the media for that. It's easy to make judgements based off these limited pieces of information, but this does not help us develop the well formed conscience we need to vote. What you need to do is tune out the noise, and dive deeper into pursuing the truth. What is each candidate really saying, and what are their policies? If you read or watch the media’s interpretation of a sound byte or specific policy, try to figure out what their bias might be. Listen to the candidate first, form your own opinion, then see what different media outlets are saying.
Step 3: See for yourself
Did you know that there were 12 Republican primary debates and 9 Democratic debates in the past year? How many of these did you watch? If the answer is few to none, you may be struggling with which candidate to vote for this November. Debates give us an awesome opportunity to hear what candidates have to say about almost every issue, in a relatively short period of time. They give you a chance to hear each candidate and form an opinion about them before the media can put a spin on it. I suggest that you begin to watch the debates from here on out. I guarantee they will help you reach your decision.
Following these steps will help you to develop a well-formed conscience and become aware of what is going on in this presidential race.
I’ve included some resources below that may help you on your journey!
CatholicVote.org is a news agency run by patriotic Americans who are also committed Catholics. They seek to preserve our nation’s founding principals and share the truths proclaimed by Jesus Christ in America today. On this site, you can (and should) read up on religious liberty, marriage, life, immigration, economics, healthcare, education, and the environment. You will find the Catholic Church’s stance on all of these issues, as well as articles regarding how each issue is relevant to this election.
LifeNews.com is an independent news agency dedicated to reporting news that affects the pro-life community. This site always has current articles related to this election and other topics that are important to us as Catholics and Americans.
EWTN Nightly News is perfect for those of you who prefer television as your source of information. It is on Monday through Friday at 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM. EWTN also streams episodes online after they air! This show is a straight shooting and short news segment that discusses current events related to this election, the world, and how it relates to you as a Catholic.
- Presidential Debates are crucial to watch as the election gets closer. I cannot tell you how important it is that you watch the whole thing! This is the only opportunity you get to hear the candidates first, before the media reports on what they've said and before others share their opinions. You get to hear it for yourself and decide what you think regarding what they've said about various issues. You may need to skip your favorite prime time programs such as Monday Night Football and Dancing with the Stars, but I promise you that it will be worth it! Here is a schedule of the upcoming debates:
- First Presidential Debate: Monday, September 26th on NB
- Vice Presidential Debate: Tuesday, October 4th on CBS
- Second Presidential Debate: Sunday, October 9th on CNN
- Third Presidential Debate: Wednesday, October 19th on Fox News
Follow these steps, use these resources, and take action to vote with a well formed conscience this November. If you do this, you will not only be confident in knowing you who you are voting for this November, you will be excited to cast your vote!