top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Day 229: Oct 31 2020: Voting in Faith Rebuilding in Hope

How do we think about our responsibility to vote -- and for whom to vote? Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego delivered a very thoughtful address, "Voting in Faith, Rebuilding in Hope," Oct. 13 during a public Zoom-based webinar hosted by St. Mary's College. Here is a partial text of his speech.

The entire speech is at:

How should a Catholic voter discern the candidates that will most powerfully advance the dignity of the human person and the common good? This discernment must begin with an evaluation of the principles of Catholic social teaching applied to the current historical moment.

  • Catholic social teaching calls us to protect both the life of unborn children and the sustainability of our planet that is the prerequisite for all human life.

  • It calls us to embrace immigrants and refugees as our sisters and brothers and to protect the elderly from the false lure of assisted suicide.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for an utter rejection of racism and the death penalty.

  • It calls for shelter, jobs and health care for the poor and the strengthening of marriage and family life.

  • It calls us to reject war and foster peace.

Frequently in discussions of the application of Catholic social teaching to voting, the question is raised whether one specific issue is singularly determinative for voting in the current election cycle. Some have categorized abortion in that way. Others, climate change. Still other Americans see the central issue in the 2020 election as the ability to heal our culture of exclusion and racism so that we can truly become a unified nation with a coherent political community.

Each of these issues has a powerful moral claim upon the conscience of a faith-filled Catholic voter.

Pope Francis has called us to frame the defense of human life and dignity in expansive terms and on many issues:

Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.

Equally, sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery and every form of rejection.

It falls to faith-filled Catholics in their own conscience to bring Catholic social teaching in its entirety to bear on their voting choices, to ask deeply and without partisanship or self-interest what opportunities to advance the common good are available in 2020, and which candidate will best advance the common good through her actions. There is no single issue which in Catholic teaching constitutes a magic bullet that determines a unitary option for faith-filled voting in 2020.

In the end, it is the candidate who is on the ballot, not a specific issue. The faith-filled voter is asked to make the complex judgment: Which candidate will be likely to best advance the common good through his office in the particular political context he will face? What pressures will the candidate have to face in achieving his goals? How does the makeup of the legislative body affect what she can accomplish? What avenues of pursuing the common good will the political climate actually allow? Such questions embrace the planes of principle and character, competence and leadership. And for the faithful voter, the very complexity of this moral judgment demands a recourse to the voice of God which lies deep within each of us — our conscience.

In his vision of social friendship Pope Francis proposes that we must bring a series of specific virtues into the heart of our culture. Three of these virtues constitute a pathway for the healing our nation's broken political culture.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan emphasizes the Samaritan's profound willingness to notice the suffering of the man beaten by the robbers, to enter into that suffering and to sacrifice greatly on his behalf. "The parable eloquently presents," the pope says, "the basic decision we need to make in order to rebuild our wounded world. … The parable shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others."

Our current political culture prevents us as a people from building such a community. It calls us to build walls around our compassion that correspond to our class and party, identifying with the suffering of the unborn child or the child separated at the border, with the suffering of those victimized by systemic racism or those victimized by street violence, with those suffering from Covid or small business owners who need reopening.

We as people of faith must demonstrate how our nation can be rebuilt by citizens who identify with the vulnerability of others precisely by refusing to channel our compassion and compassionate action along the lines of party and class. We must follow the example of the Good Samaritan who had no connection of faith or blood to the beaten man by the side of the road, who risked his own life by ministering to him when the robbers might still be near, who saw only human suffering, and that was enough.

The pope has it right. "Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other's point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns." The Catholic witness in the public square during the coming months must nurture such dialogue by adopting a new tone of encounter in our statements, our priorities and our disagreements, especially in our disagreements. It is vital that we be less magisterial and more dialogical even on those issues on which our convictions are most profound.

We are called to be missionary disciples in a political culture that has lost its way in a moment of profound societal crisis. That discipleship lies in voting to advance the common good and the life and dignity of the human person. Even more important, it lies in recasting our politics with a vision of compassion, solidarity and dialogue.

Our responsibility is clear. In the words of Martin Luther King, "there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right." This is such a time. We must vote in faith and rebuild in hope to serve the nation that we love and the Gospel by which we are redeemed.


Conscience is Love. Love is Conscience.

more than money,

more than intellect,

more than power,

more than knowledge,

it is the conscience,

that makes one a human being,

it is the conscience,

that makes one Love.

Conscience is Love.

Love is Conscience.

Love overcomes ego,

Love overcomes lust,

Love overcomes attachment,

Love overcomes greed,

Love overcomes anger,

Love overcomes fear,

Love overcomes death.

In the end,

Love hurts, Love is painful, Love is revolution,

this is when we get God.

- kirat Jan 2013


"You've got a Friend" By: James Taylor

Mr. Bojangles - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - [With Lyrics]

Bruno Mars - Count on me [Official Video]

42 views0 comments
bottom of page