Bishop: Voting a cherished right, basic responsibility

Bishop says voting is a cherished right and a basic responsibility

Bishop says voting is a cherished right and a basic responsibilityIt will soon be election day once again, and Americans throughout our country will be called upon to exercise the momentous privilege of casting their ballot.

In the Diocese of Charleston, we will pass our decision-making through the lens of our Catholic faith, which, coming from a correct and well-formed conscience, will lead us to vote for candidates who will best work for the common good according to God’s plan.

While it is true that no candidate, no party, no platform will be completely compatible with Catholic teaching, we can and must make the best selections possible based on what the Gospel teaches about bringing the Kingdom of God to its fulfillment “on earth as it is in heaven.”

We live in challenging times and the issues are manifold. We must do our best to learn the issues, understand the various candidates’ positions, reflect prayerfully and vote for those who will best serve our nation, our state and our local government in dealing with concerns that are of vital importance to us.

Our most serious challenge in these trying times is the issue of respect for human life and the dignity of every human person:

Abortion on demand and tax dollars to fund it, government funding for embryonic stem cell research, fair and just access to health care for all, and conscience protection for health care workers are still issues that must be dealt with in the new health care legislation.

There is also the need to keep a watchful eye on the development of acceptance of physician-assisted suicide.

Human life is a precious gift from God, and we are called to preserve and protect it.

There is need for continued support in maintaining the traditional concept of marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the hope of sustaining healthy family life. Marriage and family life, the very basis of our society, are seriously threatened in our nation today.

Immigration reform has the potential of dividing the nation if the federal government does not address the issue quickly and sensitively.

Society must recognize the need to preserve family unions of the many undocumented in our midst and move to regularize fairly and justly those who are here in our country.

Government also has to realize the necessity of securing our borders, controlling visas, and providing reasonable legal possibilities for work and immigration.

Education has to be a priority for our state; adequate funding for our public schools is an absolute necessity.

Good schools lead to adequate job opportunities and are the best remedy for reducing poverty levels.

Since private schools, and especially our Catholic schools, do such a good job of educating our children — and Catholic schools at a lower cost — is it not possible to find some way to assist these schools financially?

We are experiencing the worst economic depression since the first quarter of the 20th century and South Carolina has been seriously hurt by very high unemployment levels.

A priority for any candidate running for public office must be a commitment to work tirelessly for the advancement of employment opportunities for our people and to find ways to help and sustain those who are struggling the most to move through this crisis.

This brief list is by no means exhaustive; there is so much that needs to be done.

I urge you to support whom you determine to be the best candidate for each position and get to the voting booth on Nov. 2.

As faithful Catholic Americans we can do no less.