Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day. I encourage you to vote.
In this country we enjoy freedom at the voting booth to choose those who serve us in government, a freedom that most people in the world do not have. It is both a privilege and a civic duty to participate in the election of our government officials, those who will govern us and define the course of history for us and our future generations. The right to vote gives a significant testimony to our democratic process. The winner may not end up being the candidate of your choice, but the fact that everyone who is eligible may participate in the election guarantees that everyone’s voice is heard, and that their views and beliefs matter.
It is not the praxis of our Church to tell you for whom you should cast your ballot. Nor is it the business of your priests. However, it is our praxis to urge you to exercise responsible citizenship by making your choice at the poll. As a Catholic, it is essential that you educate yourself on the issues that are critical to our nation and weigh them against our Catholic teachings in order to make an informed decision. Participation in the electoral process is an obligation of good citizenship, and the Church instructs us to be good citizens.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “as far as possible, citizens should take an active part in public life” (no. 1913). This teaching is found in the section on the common good which concerns the lives of all people. It goes on further to say that “Co-responsibility for the common good makes it morally obligatory to exercise the right to vote” (no. 2240). This teaching is found in the section concerning the duties of citizens. Both of these teachings of the Church are included in Part III of the Catechism, which is titled “Life In Christ,” a theological presentation about what it means to be incorporated into Christ and to follow Him. In other words, for a Catholic, civic duties, such as voting, flow from both our baptismal identity and faith in Christ.
The Church in the United States makes available a guide to assist us in understanding the variety of issues that concern the common good of the nation. “The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” is a document promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It examines these issues from the perspective of our Catholic faith and is designed to assist a voter to make informed choices. The guide is available at www.faithfulcitizenship.org. Other useful resources are available through the New York Conference of Catholic Bishops at https://www.nyscatholic.org. These sources offer sound faith-filled advice for Catholic voters.
The role of the laity in public life is clear. Voting on Election Day, November 8 is one way to exercise that role. As people of faith, all Catholics must be concerned about who represents us in government and about public policies which affect our lives and the lives of many throughout the world. So dear brothers and sisters, I urge you, don’t stay home on Election Day! Be a good Catholic and VOTE. If anyone is unsure about who to vote for in this election, I invite you to pray to the Holy Spirit and create a space within your heart and your mind for Him to operate. My golden rule is to follow the motto that I have chosen for my own priestly life and ministry: “Let thy will be done, and not mine!” (Mt: 42). In the end, it really does not matter what I like or want, but what God wants for His people and for the world that He has created. And what God wants is quite clear through the lens of our faith: “I came so that you may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10: 1-10).
My personal vote, therefore, will be cast in light of my own recognition of the value of life and the dignity of all human life. I pray that you will find this exercise of your freedom on Tuesday, November 8, a meaningful and empowering experience as both a citizen and a faithful Catholic.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham