March 11March 11 Editorial: Vote as if life depended on it (October 28, 2022)

October 28, 2022


Vote as if life depended on it

Every election season, someone remarks that “this is the most important election in our lifetime.”

This is normally considered to be mere political hyperbole, but this year there’s an element of truth in it. At the very least, what is at stake in the upcoming local, state and national elections is of critical importance to our lives as individuals, families and communities.

The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), which is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana, recently issued guidelines related to political activity:

Committed to principled nonpartisan engagement in the political process, the Church does not and will not engage in partisan politics. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate or party, but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues. We strongly urge all parishioners to become informed on key issues and to vote.

The Church does not tell us who or what to vote for (or against), but it reminds us of our moral duty to participate actively in our local, state and national governance—by electing responsible leaders who are committed to the common good, and by only approving initiatives that are in the best interests of diverse people and communities.

As Pope Francis has said, “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”

What does the Church mean when it uses the term “the common good”?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in its election guide titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility,” speaks about the common good in this way:

The common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (“Gaudium et Spes,” #26). … The common good, in fact, can be understood as the social and community dimension of the moral good (“Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” #164).

Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible, and a right to access those things required for human decency—food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life.

The right to exercise religious freedom publicly and privately by individuals and institutions along with freedom of conscience need to be constantly defended. In a fundamental way, the right to free expression of religious beliefs protects all other rights. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Rights should be understood and exercised in a moral framework rooted in the dignity of the human person (“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” #49).

Indications that something serves the common good are fairly straightforward, but it’s important to remind ourselves of the basic principles of economic, social and political responsibility that are required to foster and protect the common good.

Here are some of these basic principles that we need to keep in mind as we prepare for the coming elections:

First, all human life is sacred. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson has often noted that the Church rightly insists that human life must be respected at every stage of existence—from the moment of conception until the time of natural death. Every form of deliberate killing—including abortion, euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment and genocide—is morally unacceptable.

Second, as the U.S. bishops remind us, “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. It is therefore necessary that an economic system serve the dignity of the human person and the common good by respecting the dignity of work and protecting the rights of workers” (“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” #50)

Third, as Pope Francis and the bishops tell us: “We have a moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live—to respect God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for human beings, especially children at their most vulnerable stages of development” (“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” #54). This includes the rejection of racism, nativism, and injustice toward those who are different from us in any way.

Catholics in central and southern Indiana are urged to read the ICC and USCCB guidelines (both available at and then to vote as if life depended on it.

—Daniel Conway

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