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What is faithful citizenship?

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The term “faithful citizenship” recognizes our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and citizens in a democratic society. We hold rights and duties, both in participating in the civic order but also as “citizens of the heavenly Kingdom. It is as citizens faithful to the Lord Jesus that we contribute most effectively to the civil order.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Introductory Note)

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is an ever-evolving document first issued in 1976. Every four years, the U.S. bishops revisit the document, considering current societal concerns and the civic and political environments. The current version, approved in November 2015, was developed by the chairmen, in consultation with the membership, of the USCCB Committees on Catholic Education, Communications, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Doctrine, Domestic Justice and Human Development, Evangelization and Catechesis, International Justice and Peace, Migration, Pro-Life Activities; the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

The document is updated every four years to take account of developments in the United States in both domestic and foreign policy issues such as:

  • The ongoing destruction of over one million innocent human lives each year by abortion
  • Physician-assisted suicide
  • The redefinition of marriage—the vital cell of society—by the courts, political bodies, and increasingly by American culture itself
  • The excessive consumption of material goods and the destruction of natural resources, which harm both the environment and the poor
  • The deadly attacks on fellow Christians and religious minorities throughout the world
  • The narrowing redefinition of religious freedom, which threatens both individual conscience and the freedom of the Church to serve
  • Economic policies that fail to prioritize the poor, at home or abroad
  • A broken immigration system and a worldwide refugee crisis
  •  Wars, terror, and violence that threaten every aspect of human life and dignity.”

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