On November 4, 2014, citizens of our great state will again head to the polls to make their choice for candidates to lead Texas and our nation into the future.
In the week before the election, the time is opportune for us to reflect on our beliefs and responsibilities as Catholic voters. By our baptism, Christians are committed to following Jesus Christ and to be “salt for the earth, light for the nations.”
While faithful Christians may in good conscience disagree on a variety of political matters, we must never forget that our very future as a society depends on our ability and courage to respect and defend the dignity of all human beings.
Among the most important issues that should be considered by well-formed citizens are the protection of human life, the sanctity of marriage, assistance to children and families, justice for immigrants, care for the poor and vulnerable, health and human services and criminal justice. On all of these, the Church speaks clearly with truth and compassion to promote the common good.
However, of all the issues that will form the consciences of voters, I take this opportunity to again state clearly and unequivocally the unchanging and unchangeable belief of the Church that was received from Christ himself: human life must be protected from the moment of conception. For this issue, there is no prudential judgment, moral equivalence or ethical distinction. I join with my brother Bishops proclaiming this truth clearly: “The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.”¹
As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.² Further, to vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” – the defining public issue of the last 40 years – when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in evil, and would be morally impermissible.
The choices we make in the ballot box cannot be made lightly or separated from what we hold as people of faith, and more importantly, our choices may affect our salvation. It is the responsibility of the Church to offer a basic moral framework in which choices can be made. Each of us must recognize the grave responsibility we have as citizens and people of good will to support policies shaped by fundamental human values and natural law, and to oppose those things that violate the dignity of life and the human person at any stage.
I encourage all the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler, and all people of good will, to make their voices heard in Texas on Nov. 4, and I continue to ask God’s blessing for the people of Northeast Texas.
1. “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops