This being our last issue of the Register before Election Day, I urge everyone in our readership and beyond to take note of their great responsibility as Catholics to vote.
During the election season, the Register has examined how the views of Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and their running mates differ from and agree with Church teaching. Our page-7 column "Is There a Lesser of Two Evils?" illustrates an important application of moral principles in voting with a well-formed conscience.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia highlights our responsibilities in voting in his recent column at CatholicPhilly.com: "Public Witness and Catholic Citizenship."
"The common good and the dignity of every human person come right out of Scripture. They underpin all of Catholic social thought," he writes. "That includes politics. … And since a large majority of American citizens are religious believers, it makes sense for people and communities of faith to bring their faith into the public square."
In the same column, the archbishop then offers some reminders before we cast our vote, not only for president of the United States, but for many other important offices and referendum questions (see sidebar on page 10):
In essence, "If we choose to call ourselves Catholic, then that word has consequences for what we believe and how we act. We can’t truthfully call ourselves ‘Catholic’ and then behave as if we’re not.
"If we say we’re Catholic, we need to show that by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves. God certainly won’t be fooled.
"The Church … has no interest in partisanship because getting power or running governments is not what she’s about, and the more closely she identifies herself with any single party, the fewer people she can effectively reach.
"Catholic social action, including political action, is a natural byproduct of the Church’s moral message. We can’t call ourselves Catholic and then simply stand by while immigrants get mistreated or the poor get robbed or — even more fundamentally — unborn children get killed. If our faith is real, then it will bear fruit in our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices."
Lastly, he writes, "Each of us needs to follow his or her own conscience. But conscience doesn’t emerge miraculously from a vacuum. … If we find ourselves frequently disagreeing, as Catholics, with the teaching of our own Church on serious matters, then it’s probably not the Church that’s wrong. The problem is much more likely with us."
"In the end," Archbishop Chaput says, "the heart of truly faithful citizenship is this: We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics."
May God bless you, and may he bless our nation in these critical days ahead.