Catholic Values Column: Catholics in political America


“Put your work back better than you found it,” I say to the children in my Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) atrium.

I am a Catholic. I am an American. Do you know that there are about 72 million Catholics in the US? That’s around a fifth of the entire population. Looking at our country today, would you believe that Catholicism is the largest religion in America?

Of those who vote, Catholics are split pretty much 50-50 Republican-Democrat, with an insignificant portion going third party. Clearly there is a problem here.

Catholics need to be politically active, and we need to be so in ways that illuminate our core morality.

I know – this is a topic that makes most people here uncomfortable. I understand. Back home, I tried to avoid politics with my closest friends because they didn’t share my Catholic values and things would get uncomfortable. But my hope is that it need not be like that here. Most of us are Catholics, and not just that, but practicing ones who, as far as I have seen, share the same general values and desire to live them out.

Why do we need to be politically active? Well, in the past week, over 17,000 babies have been killed through abortion in the United States, approximately 400 of those in Ohio, according to Pew Research. And euthanasia, already legal in many international countries, is seeping into our own, being legal in seven states and D.C., said Pew Research.

We are living in a culture of death, and our God is a God of life. Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Rather, what I see in America is abundant death, and it breaks my heart.

I do not doubt that when you stop and think about this crisis, it breaks your heart too. Because that is who we are at Franciscan. We are the school that lets off classes in bitter January to send busloads of students to march for life; we are the school that offers petitions for the pro-life movement in America practically every Mass. We are the school that has a perpetual flame burning at the tomb of the unborn. That is who we are.

This is wonderful, a good first step. As a campus, we are concerned about the direction America is heading. Now it is time to individualize this mission. First: voting.

Catholics are morally obliged to vote (CCC 2240). Additionally, as noted in “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life”: “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” So it is necessary to vote, and it is necessary to vote for the candidate closest to the Catholic Church’s stance on its five non-negotiable issues.

But just voting is not enough. We need to be pushing for change in every capacity imaginable.

I know a lot of people think that though Catholics should live according to the faith, other people should not have to. I don’t completely agree with this. We’re not just here to get ourselves to Heaven, are we? No, we should want to get to Heaven, but we should also want to bring countless souls with us. A step towards doing this is getting our views out there so that people can see the goodness of the Truth.

It’s all in the attitude. It is so easy here to ignore the news. I know because after the presidential election finished, I did just that. It is much harder to keep ourselves informed, but that is an effort worth taking. How can we make a change if we are blind to the events in our own country, or state even?

So begin by getting informed; then, do something to make a change.

But what do we do? I’m sorry to say, but I don’t know. What you do to make a change in this world is between you and God. He has a plan for each of us that will speak to our hearts and I wish I could give you a concrete way of knowing what that is, but his will for each of us is so different. While he may give one person the gift of shutting down abortion “clinics” in a specific county, to another he may give the grace to open up new programs to assist struggling mothers.

As I say to my CGS kids, “Put your work back better than you found it.” We have been blessed with this amazing gift of being both Catholic and American, so we need to use it (this applies even if you’re not American). Complacency is no longer valid. It is our duty to be informed and to bring America to the Lord who has blessed us.