We stand a short time away from the end of another presidential election. For more than a year now, we have been bombarded with news about the political parties, the candidates, the issues, etc. Let’s face it: this has been one of the ugliest and the most drawn-out campaigns of our lives. I think it is safe to say that most of us want a do-over, because we do not like either of the major candidates. What is a Catholic to do in a time like this, in an election like this?
The first thing we must do is to tear down the apocalyptic tones that plague both sides. We’ve probably all heard it said from either side: if you elect that other person, this country will fall apart. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that this country is already very far from the Judeo-Christian values of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and the election of either major candidate will not so radically change this country that either it will suddenly return to those values or abandon those values to the point of persecution. We Christians have already lost our stronghold here, and this election will not change that in either way. Our individual vote, at least on the national level, is not really as important as everyone tries to make it appear to be. But it still has an effect, not merely upon the government, but upon our eternal salvation.
Every action we commit in this world is a choice: a choice moving us towards heaven and eternal life or moving us towards hell and eternal damnation. The only true choice that we have ever been given is whether we will accept that God is King, that Jesus is Lord, that His will should be done, or whether we are King, we are Lord, and our will be done. Your vote carries with it serious consequences not merely for the future of the nation, but for the future of your salvation, for your vote indicates your support for everything a candidate believes and promises to accomplish during their time in office. The higher the office, the greater that responsibility becomes upon each one of us to make the best choice possible.
The Church, desirous of our salvation, teaches us how to be faithful not only to our civic responsibility but also to our responsibility to God to be faithful to His word, faithful to the promises we made to reject Satan and to live united to God. Our vote must reflect the beliefs of our faith because those beliefs are supposed to be the foundation of all our actions. We are meant to approach the polls not as Democrats or Republicans or independents, but as Catholics. There are indeed some things about which we can disagree: for instance, we can disagree about the best policy for aiding the poor or for how immigration should work, but we cannot disagree on the most fundamental teachings of our Catholic faith: the dignity and right to life for every human being, the proliferation of the Christian faith through religious liberty, the natural and supernatural union of man and woman in marriage, and so on. These beliefs cannot be compromised or dismissed when we decide who receives our vote.
The Church does not force us to vote, nor does she make us vote for a specific candidate. Each of us must make that decision for ourselves. Yet the Church, mindful of the goal of our faith, which is eternal life, teaches that to vote for a candidate because they hold positions contrary to our faith is to commit a mortal sin. This is called a mortal sin because, by our vote, we directly support an evil action against the will of the good God. The Church teaches us to choose the candidate who will give us the best opportunity to practice our faith both in church and in the public square. We won’t find a perfect candidate, but our political system is far from perfection.
How does this teaching of the Church translate into this election? We are faced with a few choices for president at least who are far from ideal. But there are some who are worse than others, and the worst of them all is the Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton. She has continually declared her support for abortion even to nine months, for the normalization of homosexuality, for the subjugation of religious institutions and even churches to the policies of the government in contradiction to their constitutional right to express their religious belief. Beyond even this, her campaign has been active in suppressing the faithful Catholic voice in the public square and working to sabotage that voice through pseudo-Catholic organizations ran by her lackeys. Because of these positions contrary to the teachings of the Church and her antagonism towards our faith, I must warn you, as your spiritual father, that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a mortal sin, a sin which will lead to your damnation if you do not repent of it.
There is no way to justify as a Catholic voting for a candidate who has a long record of demonstrating her opposition to what we believe and profess each Sunday. There are other candidates on the ballot who hold positions far more accommodating to our faith than Mrs. Clinton, and we should look into each one of their platforms to see who will afford us the greatest opportunity to live as God commands us to live. Yet we may not find a candidate who fulfills this requirement, or none who are truly open to the practices of our faith. It is up to your conscience to decide if you can vote for any of those candidates or if you must refrain from casting a vote. But we cannot support the promotion of a candidate who desires to promote such grave evils as official government policy if she is elected to office.
We Catholics cannot remain blind to the seriousness of these actions. We need to start living not as members of political parties but as disciples of Jesus Christ, as children of God the Father, and our vote must reflect that. We need to be like Zacchaeus in our Gospel, coming down out of the sycamore tree to receive the mercy of God and to reject all our sinful ways, living in accord with the loving will of God. We need to praise God’s name not merely by words but by living an upright life in accord with what He knows is best for us.
We have 9 days before we can go to the polls. Let us do as Pope Francis recommended: let us study the issues well, let us pray fervently, then let us vote, having been informed by the Church and guided by our conscience. I have provided in the bulletin a prayer from the Knights of Columbus for our nation, and I implore each one of you to pray this prayer individually and as a family between now and Election Day. Our nation can change for the better, but it must happen first by the grace of God, and then by our cooperation with His grace and His will. Let us all pray that God may make us worthy of his calling, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us and in our nation.