.- Catholics must form their consciences according to the social teaching of the Church and use that formation to make political choices, said Cardinal Francis George in his weekly column, published in his archdiocese’s “Catholic New World.”
“Conscience is not an excuse for doing something irrational,” the cardinal wrote in his column titled “Religion, reason, voting” just weeks before an election.
The cardinal-archbishop of Chicago noted that the dialogue between faith and reason in the United States becomes focused every couple of years during voting time.
He acknowledged that making political decision based on a conscience formed in Catholic social teaching “is not easy, because principles are clear but practice often is clouded by confusion of fact and the distraction of various forms of self-interest.”
Referring to “The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” published by the Holy See in 2004, the cardinal stressed the importance of the dignity of every person and the right to life as the first and most essential principle of Catholic social teaching. “This is a non-negotiable principle that is supported by our beliefs but is logically independent of our faith,” he said.
He also described a Catholic politician, who excuses his or her decision to allow the killing of the unborn and of others who can’t protect themselves because he or she doesn’t want to “impose Catholic doctrine on others” as “intellectually dishonest.”
“Our present legal system protects stocks and bonds, as well as dogs and cats, more than it protects unborn human beings. This is contrary to the common good,” he stated.
The cardinal also announced that the Catholic Bishops of Illinois have published a short statement on elections, conscience, and the responsibility to vote.
He described it as a resource for Catholics “who want to take seriously both their faith and their responsibility to the common good of our society.”
More information on Illinois bishops’ statement can be found at www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org