Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Every two years, in advance of state or national elections, we are reminded of our vocation to be faithful citizens and we reflect on this civic witness in the statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (www.faithfulcitizenship.org).
We recognize that at times our political and economic problems can seem overwhelming. In those moments we must remember that every age has its challenges. As people of faith, we are called to place our hope and trust in God. We are called to utilize our individual and collective gifts to promote justice and peace for all.
If individually and as a nation we focus on God’s love for every human being, we can turn despair into hope, poverty into well- being, and war into peace. Our faith and reason also supply us with a rich Catholic social teaching, which can help us put God’s love into action. The first principle of this teaching is the dignity of the human person, created in God’s image and loved by Him beyond measure. In his 2015 address to Congress, Pope Francis reminded Americans, “All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity.” Full recognition of human dignity requires the promotion of the remaining major principles of our social teaching – common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. To learn more about Catholic social teaching, we encourage you to read the description on the reverse of this letter and to study the resources listed there.
It is essential that Catholics live out this profound social teaching, by following ethical principles of reflection, criteria for making judgments, and directives for action. All of these can aid in discerning not only how to cast our votes, but how to address the pressing issues that face our world. We must pray for wisdom and strength – the wisdom to know that with God’s strength we can meet today’s challenges. Faithful Citizenship offers sound advice: “Catholic voters should use the framework of Catholic social teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance. It is important for all citizens ‘to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest’”(41).
In everything we do, let us all be Catholics first because as such we have a special duty and a unique ability to strengthen our families, our local communities, and our nation. No matter who is elected to public office, let us follow what Pope Francis urged our members of Congress to do, “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”
We thank you for reading this and may God bless you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, Archbishop of Milwaukee
Most Reverend David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay
Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison
Most Reverend William P. Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse
Most Reverend James P. Powers, Bishop of Superior