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. These doc u ments, an 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 to or that 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.
For the Roman Catholic citizen this is a serious responsibility. The virtue of patriotism demands our allegiance and support of our beloved country. 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 the natural law of do good and avoid evil; in the revealed law of almighty God, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, lovingly proclaimed by our holy faith and the teaching of the church.
We are, then, obliged to examine our 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. 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 an affront 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 go to the polling place conscious of the law of God and of our responsibilities and duties before his creative presence.
In his Sept. 30 pastoral letter for Respect Life Sunday, Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, N.J., said that some may argue that as wrong as abortion is, they do not think it is the only relevant life issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.
Bishop Martino’s response to this is: “This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates.
“However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being ‘right’ on taxes, education, health care, immigration and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life.
“Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of ‘social justice,’ ” Bishop Martino wrote.
“Even the church’s just war theory has moral force because it is grounded in the principle that innocent human life must be protected and defended. Now, a person may, in good faith, misapply just war criteria leading him to mistakenly believe that an unjust war is just, but he or she still knows that innocent human life may not be harmed on purpose,” he said.
“A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases. Furthermore, National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price,” Bishop Martino concluded.
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. It is 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.
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.
At this moment in the history of this great republic, our vote, your vote, is most important.
Our country has been truly blessed by almighty God with natural resources to allow us to be self-sufficient, vastness of space to be explored, and beautiful land to be developed for the common good of all peoples. But, more importantly, we are blessed with a diversity of population, which is the glory of our country; gifted beyond all imagining. What country can boast of so many centers of learning and research?
We are a gifted people. We have the responsibility of stewardship.
Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, P.A., Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston