From a reader…
I don’t like either Trump or Biden. I wish we had better candidates. I don’t even want to vote, but I see that this is an important election. So many things depend on it. What does the Church say about this? Do I have to vote or can I opt out?
Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country….
First, it puzzles me as to why people would vote for a candidate because he is “likeable”. With a nod to the Bard, one may smile and smile and be a villain. At least I am sure it may be so in Washington. I hear this sometimes, especially from women. They don’t “like” how Trump talks or tweets, etc. They don’t “like” his style. They are “put off” by his manner. I consider that to be shallow. I get it, but it is hardly the basis of a thoughtful choice in voting.
I’ll tell you what I don’t like: Catholics who say they are Catholic and then promote or excuse abortion, or relegate abortion to one among a list of other things. Personally, I cannot vote for some who promotes the intrinsic grave evil of abortion. I don’t think that any Catholic having a well-formed conscience can vote for a candidate who promotes abortion. It is a lie that other issues are as important as abortion. Abortion is the pre-eminent life issue.
Voting for a pro-abortion candidate, because he is pro-abortion is, I think, cooperation in evil. It is not such close cooperation that you incur an excommunication, but it is still wrong.
Some might wonder, “What if ALL the candidates are pro-abortion”? Depending on the gravity of the election, you then can chose the best among the candidates despite the abortion stance.
I think that if you opt out of what you understand to be an important election, you have violated your moral obligation to participate in the common good by exercising your right to vote.
And there is more to this election than the presidential race. There are Senate races and local races and issues. Remember that all politics are local. You live in a community and you have the ability to contribute to the common good.
We have to look at the issues and candidates which are at question and ponder them through the lens of our Catholic Faith. Then we should vote using a well-formed conscience, a conscience formed in light of the Church’s Magisterium and a solid grasp of the natural law.