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Faithful Citizenship: Bulletin Announcements

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July 27, 2016

Parishes and ministries are encouraged to teach and explore the principles detailed in Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship throughout the election season.  Scroll to the end of the article for graphics to use with these bulletin announcements. 

What Is Faithful Citizenship?

As faithful Catholics and citizens living in a democracy, we must exercise and cherish the opportunity to participate in extending God’s reach in this world.  When living faithfully to Jesus’ gospel, we contribute most effectively to promoting civil order and the common good.  Every four years, the US Bishops, in Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, articulate a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues impacting human life and dignity, religious freedom, care for creation and immigration. Please visit the California Catholic Conference website at www.cacatholic.org to learn more about important policy issues.

Information On The Church’s Teaching On Faith And Public Life

As the official public policy voice for the Catholic Church in California, the California Catholic Conference advocates with policy makers and the public to advance the Catholic vision of human life and dignity, the good society, and concern for those who are poor and vulnerable. The Conference educates and empowers Catholics to put our faith into action consistent with Catholic teaching. For extensive resources on issues impacting public and civic life and to sign up to keep updated, visit the California Catholic Conference’s website at www.cacatholic.org

What Is A Well Formed Conscience?

Conscience is a judgment of practical reason that helps us to recognize and seek what is good and to reject what is evil. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1778, 1784, 1796.) We develop our conscience by studying Sacred Scripture and teachings of the Church, examining the facts of an issue and prayerfully reflecting to discern God’s will. To learn more about “What is a Well Formed Conscience”, visit the California Catholic Conference’s Faithful Citizenship’s link at www.cacatholic.org.

Who Has A Right to Engage In Civic Discussions?

To improve the moral fabric of society, everyone has a right and an obligation to promote the common good.  As people of faith and reason, Catholics are called to uphold the inherent dignity of the human person by participation in society.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1913-1915.) For intriguing information on civil discourse, read the California Catholic Conference’s “Who has a Right to Engage in Civic Discussions” at www.cacatholic.org.

Why Does The Church Engage In Politics?

As Catholics, our moral duty exhorts us to involvement in all aspects of society, including civic and political dimensions.  As faithful citizens, participation in government that helps shape policies to promote a common good should be part of our journey of faith.  We must look to see the Holy Spirit at work in authorities of all realms.  For we receive God’s gift of love, and love him in return by seeking the good in others. Visit California Catholic Conference at www.cacatholic.org for more information. 

What Is The Best Way To Express A Political Point of View?

When engaging in civil dialogue, we must listen and speak carefully and respectfully.  By taking time to allow everyone the opportunity to speak and share personal experiences, we can create a rich environment of perspectives and ideas instead of debate. With civil dialogue rooted in truth, we build bridges and strengthen our communities with a cooperative spirit seeking the common good. For dynamic reading on the topic, see the USCCB bulletin Civil Discourse: Speaking Truth in Love: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/parishes-and-schools/upload/Civil-Dialogue-bulletin-insert.pdf as well as the California Catholic Conference’s Seven ground rules for civil dialogue at www.cacatholic.org.

How Can I Register to Vote?

A new California law will automatically register all citizens receiving a driver’s license to vote.  Until the process is fully implemented, visit the California Secretary of State’s website at www.registertovote.ca.gov to register online.  Otherwise, contact your County Register of Voters or local DMV office for a voter registration form. For more policy issues of the day, visit www.cacatholic.org.

For Whom Should I Vote?

Using a well-formed conscience and mature understanding of our Catholic faith, we must prudently discern candidates and issues to promote human life and dignity towards helping build a more just and peaceful world.  While we should not ignore a candidate’s integrity, philosophies and performance, we must also assess greater range of life and dignity implications. As Catholics, we must not base our voting on a single issue, but use a framework of Catholic moral and social teaching highlighting the dignity of the human person, the common good and solidarity. For further exploration, read the USCCB’s Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/ and visit the California Catholic Conference at www.cacatholic.org.

Should I Use Voter Guides?

Many voter guides focus offer a limited perspective of topics and tend to oversimplify complex social realities. They also shortcut the responsibility of each individual to research, pray and form their own conscience.  Voter guides are not distributed at parishes, since the Church, as a tax-exempt organization, may only address issues and not participate in partisan endorsements. However, the California Catholic Conference has provided FAQs on important policy issues. See them and other voting information at www.cacatholic.org.  

Civic Engagement Beyond Voting

Casting a ballot does not conclude our civic engagement until the next election.  We are continually called to participate in our communities, to serve and be a voice for the most vulnerable, to stand in solidarity with the marginalized and care for the gift of God’s creation.  In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, prayerfully reflecting on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy will offer guidance for formulating activities to improve our communities.  Can you name the fourteen corporal and spiritual works of mercy? Visit the California Catholic Conference website at www.cacatholic.org and paragraph 2447 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn more.

What Public Policies Should Concern Catholics Most?

As Catholics, we are led to focus political and policy questions on issues that impact the children of God’s spirit and faith over individual, material well-being. The Church focuses more broadly on what protects or threatens the life and dignity of every person – from conception to natural death. Catholic teaching challenges voters and candidates, citizens and elected officials, to consider the moral and ethical dimensions of public policy issues. Please visit the California Catholic Conference’s Frequently Asked Questions at www.cacatholic.org to see which issues are of special importance to the Church.

How Can I Share My Faith-based Beliefs with Others?

As Catholics, we do believe that there are objective truths that help each of us to live healthy, happy and holy lives. Society has created moral compasses that often outshine reverence for God and his love for us. In response, we need to educate and promote critical thinking that encourages the development of mature moral values.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 64). As faithful followers of Christ, we are called to evangelize in our world, and educating others and ourselves should be a part of our ministry.  Presenting others with objective truths, however, does not give us the right to be uncharitable or disrespectful. To read more about respectfully leading others to a conversion of mind and heart, visit the California Catholic Conference’s Faithful Citizenship link at www.cacatholic.org.

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