One of the freedoms that I am most grateful for is freedom of speech. As citizens, we are able to disagree publically with our elected officials and each other without worrying about the police arresting us when we walk out the door. And most importantly, we can make our voice heard through our vote.
When we vote, we look for the person who will best represent our values. This can be especially difficult in today’s climate and we might be tempted to vote only for our party, or for women…or Latinos…or liberals… or….. You get my point.
Some might vote only for a candidate who professes to be pro-life. Voting for a person who is anti-abortion is not necessarily the same as voting pro-life. Life does not stop when a child is born. There are so many other important life issues to be considered. I would suggest that all the issues that the Dominican Sisters of Peace have included in our voting guide are pro-life including protection from violence in our own communities and welcoming people escaping from it in their countries…ensuring that our creation is protected and its resources are available for all…protecting adults and children from sex or labor trafficking. They address the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
So what do you do when a candidate professes to be pro-life but addresses none of the life issues after birth? That’s where our consciences come into play.
A recent article in America called Catholic Teaching on Conscience is (Again) Topic of Discussion at Synod, states “Catholics believe that following one’s conscience is paramount—and that believers should do their best to form their consciences in the light of reason, experience, Scripture and spiritual formation, always with the help of church teaching.” The Church’s Social Teaching is one source of formation and includes the rights to life, dignity, work, care for the poor and vulnerable, and care for creation. Perhaps we need to work together to end abortions by helping women to avoid them or supporting mothers when their children are born.
So, in the end, each person must make his or her decision on how to vote. That decision must be done with prayer, information, discussion. Voting is an important action that cannot be taken lightly. It affects each of us personally and communally. May you find peace in this important action.