POPE FRANCIS ANNOUNCED LAST MONTH that he was beginning a new series of general audience talks focused on Catholic social teaching and aimed at helping to build “the future that we need.”
“We will explore together how our Catholic social tradition can help the human family heal this world that suffers from serious illnesses,” the pope said, according to a Catholic News Service report. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, he said it was his desire “that everyone reflect and work together, as followers of Jesus who heals, to construct a better world, full of hope for future generations.”
The Holy Father’s initiative offers a good framework for thinking about our responsibilities here in the United States as Catholic citizens committed to building a society where everyone is loved and everyone can flourish. We are often reminded of this responsibility when Election Day approaches in the fall, but it’s a duty that extends beyond Election Day. Our faith calls us to assist civic leaders at all times to create public policies rooted in compassion and justice.
And, as Pope Francis says, Catholic social teaching should be our guide. Its principles include protecting life and promoting human dignity, advancing the common good, the preferential option for the poor, solidarity, subsidiarity and caring for our planet.
This month’s edition will help you to prepare for casting your vote in November as well as to participate as a faithful citizen beyond Election Day. The experts interviewed for the “Big Question” (pages 6-9) offer ideas ranging from how to evaluate the pressing issues of today to how to approach your vote when no candidate offers the perfect choice. Father Tom Knoblach addresses the importance of having a well-formed conscience before casting your vote (pages 14-15).
Last month, I wrote about the U.S. bishops’ new campaign, “Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate,” which encourages Catholics to promote “civility, clarity and compassion in the public square and to call on others to do so as well.” This is essential to the witness we offer as Catholic citizens: How we dialogue and debate should be a model for others to follow.
Pope Francis’ talks on the Church’s social doctrine offer additional guidance. In addition, the Diocese of St. Cloud has created a special webpage to assist you in learning more about faithful citizenship and how to foster it in our communities, our state and our country. Visit http://stcdio.org/faithfulcitizenship for a comprehensive list of resources.