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Why Catholics Vote

When we go to the polls next Tuesday, Catholics must perform this important civic duty in a morally serious way otherwise they risk "outsourcing" their moral judgment to others.

In a recent column appearing in the National Catholic Register, author George Weigel says that just because today's election process resembles a reality show, that's no excuse for Catholics to cast their vote like they would for an American Idol contestant.

"In the Catholic understanding of these things, politics, for all its tawdriness, still engages questions of right and wrong, good and bad, the noble and the base," Weigel writes.

"Political judgment is prudential judgment; but prudence is a virtue, a habit of the mind and heart that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, 'disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it.,"

Voting is an exercise in moral judgment, he says, "Which is to say that serious Christians, for whom love of the Lord Jesus and fidelity to his Kingdom measure all our other loves and loyalties, vote with their brains, not with their emotions."

When we cast our vote, it shouldn't be an exercise in nostalgia or out of gratitude that FDR gave grandpa a good job, it must be based on our moral judgment about the American future and who can best lead us into it.

"Morally serious voters understand that the character of political parties changes over time and that voting for the Democrats or the Republicans because 'that’s what we’ve always done' is outsourcing one’s moral judgments to others," Weigel writes.

Morally serious Catholics recognize that no one party in contemporary America fully embodies Catholic social teaching, "but alert Catholics will also take notice when a party holds Catholic social teaching — including the Church’s teaching on such fundamental issues as the inalienable right to life and the nature of marriage — in contempt."

When casting our vote, we must take the bigger picture into account, and not just vote for the immediate future or for ourselves and our family.

"Voters who think only of themselves and do not take into account what kind of country their children and grandchildren will inherit are being politically shortsighted and morally obtuse," Weigel writes.

"The voting booth isn’t the confessional. But like the confessional, it should be entered after serious moral reflection and prayer."

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