Forum educates on faith and politics

By Jen Wozniak
October 23, 2008

Listen to your conscience and vote for who you believe would be the best candidate for president based on your research and values.

This was the message stressed to those attending the Faithful Citizenship Forum, held on Thursday, Oct. 9, in the Wolfington Center. The discussion was held for those who wanted to know more about how their Catholic faith plays a role in who they vote for in the upcoming election. Students also learned where the Catholic Church stands on certain issues.

The Catholic Church does not say that you have to be a member of a certain political party. That choice is up to you. What they do say is that Catholics should form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth and vote based on their conscience. This is according to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a booklet which was written by Catholic Bishops in the United States and distributed at the event.

The handout said, “The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.” ?Also, it states that “As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a particular party or interest group.”

Students were encouraged to be informed voters and to research the candidates before voting and see where they stand on certain issues. Issues that students feel strongly about should influence who they vote for.

“What a priest says can influence people, but you shouldn’t say, ‘I like that person, so I’ll believe him.’ Instead, say ‘I’ve heard this, now I’m going to go research it.’ That way you are forming your own opinion,” Christa Angeloni, campus minister, said. Angeloni led the event with Stephen Eberle, coordinator of community partnerships at Cabrini.

The Catholic Church does want Catholics to help the common good by opposing evil and doing good. There are five non-negotiable issues, also known as “intrinsically evil” actions, which the Church says should always be opposed. They are abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual marriage. The Church believes that these actions are morally wrong, so a serious Catholic should not vote for someone who supports one of these issues.

The Faithful Citizenship Forum was not used as a means to force beliefs on people or to persuade people to vote for a certain candidate, but rather for students to discuss topics in an informal setting.

“There will never be a party that 100 percent fits all of your values,” Angeloni said. In these cases, your best bet is to pick the candidate whose values are closest to yours. Decisions can be tricky, because even if a candidate supports something evil, they may support a lot of things that are good.

“The bottom line is that you need to follow your conscience. Look at the topics and pray over them and then make your vote on what your conscience says,” Eberle said. When deciding for whom to vote, he said, “It is important for people to take their faith into account, not necessarily their religion.”

Faith is important in the lives of many people and young people are encouraged to go out and vote with a well-formed conscience that helps the common good. People can form their conscience by studying the teachings of the Church, examining the choices and praying. It is the hope of the Catholic Church that Catholics will vote for candidates that respect the dignity of human life and the well-being of all.

“Faith will play a role in who you vote for,” Brittany Rodgers, senior elementary and early childhood education major, said.

Julia Kenny, senior math major, said that it is extremely important that young people vote. “If we don’t vote, then we have no say in our future and that’s just stupid,” Kenny said.

For more information or questions about your faith and its role in the upcoming election, stop by the Wolfington Center on the third floor of Founders Hall or e-mail

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Jen Wozniak

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