The stress and high stakes of an election season can cause tensions in even the most close of relationships, and individuals can often feel at a loss for how to navigate these trials. This is a prime opportunity for a parish to accompany its members and help promote faithful citizenship in the community. Refer to the Faithful Citizenship Election Parish Resources provided by the archdiocese, and consider these five steps to get started.
1. Provide parishioners with information that is true and right.
We may disagree on the best way to promote the common good of society, but there is still a non-negotiable moral framework. We may never choose to do something evil in order to achieve a good end; the end does not justify the means. The USCCB’s letter Faithful Citizenship writes, “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”. Help encourage parishioners to examine the candidates’ differing policy proposals and make a prudential decision on which is the best proposal according to our formed conscience .
Remind parishioners of the need to simultaneously uphold the dignity of every human person and the common good and to avoid evil. Some actions are always evil, defined as intrinsically evil acts. Catholic Priorities at the Polls is an overview of our responsibilities as we approach the polls, which your parish can share on social media, your bulletin, your website, or include in ministry emails.
2. Encourage parishioners to ask questions of themselves, the Church, and party platforms.
When has my conscience guided me to “do good and avoid evil”? What are some key resources I can use to form my conscience and how do I regularly form it? What more could I do? Do I know the facts of the party platforms and where political candidates stand on moral issues? Is my allegiance to a political party or ideology stronger than my allegiance to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ?
Share these questions with parishioners so that they may examine their role on this faithful citizenship. Remind them of the opportunity to seek the prudent advice and good example of trusted leaders and others to support and enlighten their conscience with what the Church teaches .
3. Provide opportunities for parishioners to pray for themselves, for elected officials, and for our nation.
Prayerfully reflect to discern the will of God. Scheduling rosaries for the election, Adoration hours, an Election Mass or even a novena of Masses leading up to election day as well as encouraging individual, family and parish prayer.
The USCCB is offering an electronic Election Novena for nine consecutive days, Monday, October 26th through Tuesday, November 3rd. Participants will be encouraged to pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the day’s intention. A closing prayer for elected leaders will be offered on day 10, Wednesday, November 4th.
4. Remind parishioners to vote!
Catholics are called through fulfillment of our civic responsibility to shape morality in the political arena. Archbishop Vigneron reminds us , “The Church lives in the world of today. She is sent by her Lord to be the light and leaven of the Kingdom. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, we are called as the Catholic faithful, along with our priests, parishes, schools, institutions and agencies, to participate in political life. Responsible citizenship is not only a virtue, it is also a moral obligation.” Remind parishioners of this responsibility and encourage them to vote.
5. Before and after the election, CIVILIZE IT.
We are invited to model civility and love for our neighbor throughout the year. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate asks Catholics to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion in their families, communities, and parishes, and call on others to do the same, to actively work to counter the divisiveness and continue to work for justice with all threats to human dignity, regardless of which party holds office. Share Faithful Citizenship video resources from the Michigan Catholic Conference on your parish’s website or social media, or encourage individuals to sign the Civilize It Pledge .
Oh Mary, patroness of America, Bright Morning Star, accompany us as we prepare to vote and in the days ahead that we may embrace our high calling to work for a world full of Justice, Peace, Hope and Love for every LIFE, born and unborn, made in the image and likeness of God.