Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The midterm elections are just a few short months away, and they come at a time when a number of important public policy issues are getting much media attention. These include the issue of abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturing of Roe v. Wade, the state of the economy, school safety, racism and care for our natural environment. This year all 201 state legislative seats are up for election. Minnesotans also will cast votes for governor and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As Catholics, we are called to love God and love our neighbor. One way we do the latter is by participating in public life to promote the common good of all. “An authentic faith,” Pope Francis said, “always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it” (“The Joy of the Gospel,” 183). This is what faithful citizens do when they participate in the political process guided by their faith.
We help to build up the kingdom of God by loving our neighbor. And who is our neighbor?
Everyone is our neighbor. Our Holy Father offered a beautiful meditation a few years ago on the parable of the Good Samaritan to help us better understand this fact and how it requires us to treat one another, especially our neighbors who are wounded, excluded or otherwise in need of mercy, charity and justice (“On Fraternity and Social Friendship,” chapter 2).
Practicing faithful citizenship isn’t limited to elections, but these next few months are an opportunity to recall again the best ways to form our consciences and reflect on the challenging issues facing our state and nation. The principles of Catholic social teaching should be our guide as we discern how to advocate for human life, human dignity and the well-being of all.
To this end, I encourage you to stay informed on important public policy issues and practice charity and civility whenever discussing or debating your views with others. Taking the “Civilize It” pledge is an excellent way to help us practice what we preach and reduce the polarization and rancor that sadly marks so much of today’s political conversations.
I also encourage parishes and Area Catholic Communities to provide educational programming and other resources to assist parishioners in living out their call as faithful citizens. However, because of their tax-exempt status, parishes, ACCs and other Church organizations must avoid partisan political activities or endorsing particular candidates or parties. Parishes and ACCs should only use materials approved by the diocese or Minnesota Catholic Conference.
Our involvement in faithful citizenship efforts contributes to a positive future for everyone. Please take the next several weeks to study the issues and properly form your conscience in order to make good judgments in the upcoming election and beyond. And, please remember to vote on Nov. 8.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud
- Minnesota Catholic Conference: Election resources: mncatholic.org/ElectionResources
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: bit.ly/3Qb65aV
- “Civilize It” pledge: usccb.org/civilizeit
Top image: Bigstockphoto.com