(Editor’s note: In the following letter written to the people of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone encourages the faithful to reflect on the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith while preparing to vote with a well formed and informed conscience.)
Dear Friends in Christ,
With Election Day approaching, we are mindful of our privilege as citizens of the United States to participate in the political process. As Catholics, we are also attentive of the need to reflect on the fundamental moral principles of our faith and our responsibility to vote with a well formed and informed conscience.
In exercising our right to vote, we acknowledge our religious liberty and our freedom to express our faith in the public square. We should embrace our responsibility to help shape the moral character of our society and to promote the common good. To prepare ourselves for this critical task we need to consider each candidate’s position on policies which support human life, protect marriage and family life, and provide for religious freedom and conscience rights. Do we know where the candidates stand on issues important to the moral values of our faith? Are we, ourselves, familiar with the teachings of the Church on such matters of life, marriage, and care for the poor and vulnerable? Are we guided by moral conviction or by public opinion? Are we willing to stand up for what we believe, when what we believe is rejected by others?
Building the Kingdom of God in a society that does not value and respect human life and human dignity is a challenge. Forming our consciences in accordance with the truth will better equip us to make sound moral choices in addressing this challenge. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has said: “Yet the truth is that the real quality of our lives and of social life in general, depends on the sound conscience of each individual, on the capacity of each person to recognize what is good, distinguish it from evil and patiently seek to put it into effect".
I urge you to prepare prayerfully and to vote your conscience in the upcoming election. May our Lord continue to bless us and may Mary our Mother, patroness of this great nation, watch over us always.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, D.D.
Bishop of Saginaw