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Social Justice

Vote With An Informed Conscience

Dear Parishioners,

It is that time again to do our part in the process of democracy: vote. Today like no other time, we are pressed to make an effort to vote. Here in Oregon, voting by mail couldn't be easier. Hopefully, you have all received your Voter's Pamphlet in the mail from which you can begin to understand some of the issues. It is a time for us all to remember that our nation was founded on "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Some, however, have pursued one's own well-being over that of others, especially the most vulnerable. As such, we need to keep the needs of the poor in the forefront of our hearts and minds.

The voting season has also marked an increase in mailings to my office from various political action committees or candidates. The Church does not endorse any persons or parties, but she certainly can make a stand about issues. Each of these mailings try to convince me of their particular issue or candidate. Some literature has even come across my desk as either "The Catholic Vote" or "The Pro-Life Vote," often failing to do both in a full way. So, what are we to do? I point you to the bishop's document called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" which outlines the ethical and moral principals by which we are to consider when participating in our political process. The bishop's outline four major themes. They are as follows:

1. Human Life: The right to life of every human person from conception to natural death, must be protected.
2. Family Life: Marriage between a man and woman is not just a sacred good but a social good that government needs to recognize, encourage and protect.
3. Social Justice: The Catholic consistent life ethic “extends from the vulnerable inside the womb to the vulnerable outside the womb.”
4. Global Solidarity: Natural resources are God-given and “we are all responsible for protecting them.”

The bishop's go on to warn us about two tendencies:
"The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.
"The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.

I urge you to read this document in its entirety as well as the Archbishop's Oct. 6th reflection on voting. Here are links related to these writings:


Fr. William Holtzinger