CHARLESTON — As the presidential election draws near, Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Char les ton, is urging all people to exercise their right to vote, with a conscience.
“Today and always, the United States of America, a republic, finds its most noble expression and sentiment in the Constitution of the United States and in the Bill of Rights,” Msgr. Laughlin wrote in a letter to South Carolina Cath olics. “These doc u ments, expression of government for the people and by the people, protect the dignity and freedom of each and every citizen regardless of race, color or creed. There are no other documents written by members of human government that may be compared or excel this sublime message of human dignity.
“In just a few weeks, we citizens will affirm and pledge our allegiance to this great republic by casting our ballots for the candidate of our choice to lead and govern in the years to come,” he said.
He reminded the Catholics of South Carolina that this is a serious responsibility, particularly for a people of faith.
“The virtue of patriotism demands our allegiance and support of our beloved country,” Msgr. Laughlin said. “The ballot box is the opportunity given to each one of us to express our love for our country and to participate in the role of government. Catholic Christians must approach the duty to vote guided by the great gift of conscience: A conscience rooted in natural law (do good, avoid evil); in the revealed law of almighty God; the Ten Commandments; and the Beatitudes, lovingly proclaimed by our holy faith, the teaching of the church.”
To prepare for the election and their civic duty, Msgr. Laughlin said the faithful are obliged to examine their consciences and the credentials of each candidate.
“We must not be guided by the so called ‘lesser of two evils’ or attempt to justify the acceptance of intrinsic evil for some greater good,” he said. “We may never embrace evil. We must follow the commandment, ‘thou shall not kill’ and the Beatitude, ‘blessed are the merciful.’
“Abortion, late-term abortion and partial-birth abortion violate the law of God and are affronts to basic human dignity. If we are not concerned and do not protect the most innocent and helpless of society, how can we be sure of our own sense of freedom and safety? We must, then, come to the polling place conscious of the law of God and of our responsibilities and duties before his creative presence.
“Many of us remember the beautiful song ‘God Bless America,’ a song that expresses the loyalty and pride of being a member of one of the greatest nations in history,” his letter continues. “A song that touched the heart of each one of us in a time of war and violence; a time when each person was asked to sacrifice for their country; and a time when many gave their lives for this wonderful land.
“Today, in this time of history, the most important act you can do to express your citizenship, your concern for the dignity of human life, is to vote. Your vote is a beacon and a sign of hope for those who are free and who long to be free,” he said. “Please vote!”
The U.S. Bishops have created the Web site, www.faithfulcitizenship.org, which includes resources for individuals, parishes and schools on responsible citizenship for Catholics.