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"Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation."  USCCB

 

The Mission of this new Ministry is dedicated to helping our community give glory to God and grow in holiness by a greater understanding of our Catholic Faith, values and moral principles and how they should be applied in forming our consciences regarding important cultural and political issues affecting our families, the Church and our country.

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CURRENT SITUATION

Judeo-Christian principles, on which the United States of America was founded, are under deadly assault.  The Catholic Church and all Christian-based faiths are in the cross-hairs of those who seem focused on degrading and destroying those fundamental values.  For decades actions have been taken by powerful forces seeking to abolish our basic freedoms and rights.  The attacks are from within our Country and from outside.  Evil is pervasive.  

CALL TO ACTION

In a recent letter to the supreme convention of the Knights of Columbus, Pope Francis wrote that: “endowed by their Creator with life and liberty, American Catholics have a duty to contribute to the reasoned defense of these freedoms.  He urged the American faithful to meet the moral, social, political challenges of the present hour with “great wisdom and perseverance”.  He said “there is a need for a mobilization on the part of all those citizens who… are concerned for the overall welfare of society”.

Noting that our nation faces political challenges that demand urgent moral choices, the U. S. Bishops have called Catholics to correctly form their consciences in the light of the truth of the Catholic Faith and to bring Catholic moral principles to the debate and decisions about the issues and challenges we face.  

 

Who in the Church Should Participate in Political Life?

In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. “People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 220). The obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life” (nos. 1913-1915).*

*From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, paragraph 13

How Does the Church Help the Catholic Faithful to Speak About Political and Social Questions? 

A Well-Formed Conscience

The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well-formed conscience. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do. Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil. Conscience always requires serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truths of our faith. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right” (no. 1778).*

*From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, paragraph 17

The formation of conscience includes several elements. First, there is a desire to embrace goodness and truth. For Catholics, this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth and what is right by studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also important to examine the facts and background information about various choices. Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God. Catholics must also understand that if they fail to form their consciences in the light of the truths of the faith and the moral teachings of the Church they can make erroneous judgments.2*

*From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, paragraph 18

The Virtue of Prudence

19. The Church fosters well-formed consciences not only by teaching moral truth but also by encouraging its members to develop the virtue of prudence, which St. Ambrose described as “the charioteer of the virtues.” Prudence enables us “to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1806). Prudence shapes and informs our ability to deliberate over available alternatives, to determine what is most fitting to a specific context, and to act decisively. Exercising this virtue often requires the courage to act in defense of moral principles when making decisions about how to build a society of justice and peace.*  

*From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Paragraph 19.  

 20. The Church’s teaching is clear that a good end does not justify an immoral means. As we all seek to advance the common good—by defending the inviolable sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, by promoting religious freedom, by defending marriage, by feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, by welcoming the immigrant and protecting the environment—it is important to recognize that not all possible courses of action are morally acceptable. We have a responsibility to discern carefully which public policies are morally sound. Catholics may choose different ways to respond to compelling social problems, but we cannot differ on our moral obligation to help build a more just and peaceful world through morally acceptable means, so that the weak and vulnerable are protected and human rights and dignity are defended.*  

*From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, paragraph 20.