October 9, 2020

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Catholics should examine conscience over party loyalty

Kimberly PohoveyI’m on one side of the political spectrum, convicted in my choice for the upcoming presidential election. My house guest is on the other, while equally convicted in his selection. We are both faith-filled Catholics, who love and respect one another.

Initially, when my guest came to stay, I said that it would be best for us not to discuss our political views—in an attempt to keep the peace. However, there have been several instances when we have verbally sparred. I can’t say if our arguments were more of an attempt to persuade the other as much as a defense of our own position, but in each of these occasions, I feel we have walked away frustrated, maybe even a bit angry at the other’s deeply held opinions.

After one such sparring session, my guest texted me a couple of links to articles that accused my preferred candidate of lying on many occasions. I shot back articles that accused his candidate of the very same. His text back to me read, “so we are choosing between two huge liars, now what?” My response: “We vote our conscience.”

Many Catholics fervently believe we should vote for one party or the other based on such hot topics as abortion or immigration. No one party, much less candidate, perfectly encompasses every tenet of our Catholic faith. It would certainly make our job as voters much easier if there was one candidate who was in perfect alignment with the Catholic Church’s teachings on every issue. That never happens. What we face are candidates, on both sides, who embody one cause or another that aligns with the Church, and just as many that do not.

Enter the wisdom of our Catholic bishops. Whether you know which candidate for whom you plan to vote or not, it behooves Catholics to read and reflect on “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States,” which provides a guide to Catholics as they discern how to exercise their political responsibility and be faithful citizens.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all candidate to address all issues, spending time truly discerning the best way to cast our vote is a duty of every American Catholic. Only through a thoughtful process can a Catholic vote their conscience, as recommended by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I concede to suffering political fatigue syndrome after what has seemingly become an eternal election season, replete with hate speech and accusations. I admit to becoming increasingly intolerant of the opposing party’s positions and actions. I confess I have grown ever more obstinate in my arguments to support my candidate of choice.

However, the exchange with my house guest has left me reflecting on important virtues like respect and civil discourse. And contemplating “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” challenges me to seek God’s will, through prayer, to cast my vote based on a well-formed conscience.

You’re probably wondering which one of us, my house guest and I, is the Republican, and which one the Democrat? At the end of the day, it’s not the party that matters. What matters is that we cast our morally convicted vote based on what we each believe God asks of us.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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