Catholic Voter's Guide and Moral Duties Concerning Voting
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As we approach the upcoming election, we hope that these resources help you embrace your citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity to meaningfully participate in building the culture of life. These guides will also encourage you to choose your political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest.

Election Prayer

by Servant of God, Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J.

Lord Jesus Christ, You told us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Enlighten the minds of our people in America. May we choose a President of the United States, and other government officials, according to Your Divine Will. Give our citizens the courage to choose leaders of our nation who respect the sanctity of unborn human life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of marital relations, the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of the aging. Grant us the wisdom to give You, what belongs to You, our God. If we do this, as a nation, we are confident You will give us an abundance of Your blessings through our elected leaders. Amen.

Composed by Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J.
Imprimatur: +Rene H. Gracida, Bishop of Corpus Christi, July 7, 1992
Published by Eternal Life in 1992

Doing Good and Avoiding Evil in Voting

The first principle of morality is to do good and avoid evil. We cannot really do this unless we know what good things ought to be sought, and what evils are to be avoided entirely, or tolerated for a time under certain circumstances. In all of this Catholic teaching gives us concrete guidance.

In the following pages are addressed in detail the General Moral Principles summarized below, as well as the Specific Issues and their related moral principles.

Catholics Must Form Their Consciences by Church Teaching

This obligation flows from the virtue of faith, since belief in Christ is also belief in the Church and Christ’s promises to the Church.

Church Teaching

Morally Good Acts Are Good in Object, End and Circumstances

We are morally obliged to perform acts which are good

  1. in their Object (the thing to be done)
  2. in their End (intention for doing), and,
  3. in their Circumstances.

Object, End and Circumstance

A Morally Good Act Will Be Prudent

Prudence is the Queen of Virtues, as it governs the knowledge and judgment of our acts. St. Thomas Aquinas identifies 8 integral parts of prudence which are necessary for a perfectly prudent act: Memory, Understanding, Docility, Shrewdness, Reasoning, Foresight, Circumspection and Caution.


Morally Good Acts Will Not Cooperate in Evil

We may not formally cooperate in evil by doing it, intending it, encouraging it, flattering it, or approving of it. We may sometimes tolerate material cooperation under certain conditions described in the Church’s teaching on moral cooperation and on the Principle of Double Effect.

Moral Cooperation in Evil

"The ideal politician for me is the one who has concern about your soul – that you have freedom of religion, peace and joy, work, security and assurance."

"Pray before you vote – vote in the name of God. Pray that we will once again be a nation under God. Be brave, speak out for Jesus – tell the world how wonderful He is. Visit him! By your example will all men know. Words don’t mean much, example speaks a thousand words. I love you but God loves you lots. Don’t forget that."

Mother M. Angelica, P.C.P.A.

Citizens Have Co-Responsibility for Society

Citizens have co-responsibility for society. In democracies the principal political expression of this responsibility is voting. In indifferent elections,those between two worthy candidates, the duty to vote is slight.

However, when a good candidate opposes an unworthy one voting is more seriously obliged. Worthiness is judged by 1) the issues and 2) the worthiness of the candidates. One may even vote for a political enemy of morality and freedom, but only to exclude a worse one.

Co-Responsibility for Society

Doing Good by Avoiding Evil

In determining which candidate is a greater threat to morality and liberty, Non-negotiable issues involving essential moral goods (e.g. life, liberty) are the most important. Essential goods directly oppose intrinsic evils which may never morally be chosen, thus, the moral tradition speaks of protecting morality as intrinsic to voting.

Negotiable issues, on the other hand, are not matters of essential goodness or evilness. Rather, they involve determining the best means, or policies, to achieve good ends. If the essential good is life, then policies that foster the maintenance of life (e.g. health care, public safety etc.), must be argued and negotiated. The political process, therefore, doesn’t decide what the essential goods are, but the best way to preserve andserve them.

Avoiding Evil

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