Here in the Diocese of Buffalo (New York | United States), we received a “Voter Alert” message via the diocesan Facebook page last week:
With the election season in full swing, you may be receiving political mailings from outside organizations with the word ‘Catholic’ in the title.
Bishop Richard J. Malone wants to remind all of us that the best guidance heading into this election year is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Faithful Citizenship website: www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
I immediately thought of two Catholic apps that focus on political action here in the United States with an emphasis on our duty to participate in the election process. Acknowledging Bishop Malone’s reminder that the “best” guidance for Catholic voters eminates from the U.S. bishops, these two apps–in my humble opinion–still offer some value in helping us to make informed choices in the voting booth. If anything, they help flesh out some of the points the U.S. bishops have made in their web site covering this important topic.
Let’s take a look at the apps which perhaps can be viewed as resources to the USCCB Faithful Citizenship guidelines.
The CatholicVote (Free) is produced by a “lay movement of committed Catholics who are passionate about living out the truths proclaimed by Christ and His Church in the modern world.” The app is the fruit of the popular internet web site of the same name, CatholicVote.org.
While CatholicVote is a valuable tool to help you contact your elected representatives in Washington, DC directly through your mobile device, perhaps its most valuable resource is well-considered opinion authored by a stable of competent Catholic contributors on its web site. Generally, the web site commentary focuses on matters dealing with faith and culture (and anyone who has followed the CatholicVote organization over the years is well aware of the brave stances in support of Catholic teaching that this community has taken to the public square). The app, however, serves up commentary strictly centered on this election–and not just on the presidential side, but on a smattering of other elections as well. CV is staunchly pro-life which informs much of its offerings.
This year, CV is challenged just like most voters. Over the past few months, we read their struggling/shifting viewpoints that accompany the reader on this wild ride of U.S. politics. Their thoughtful commentary and analysis is a good fit with the USCCB Faithful Citizenship web site which urges Catholics to form their consciences by being open to truth, studying Scripture and Church teaching, examining facts and background information, and engaging in prayerful reflection. Well, somebody needs to provide facts and background information. CatholicVote makes it its job and walks with you as you try to peer through the muddy water which is this election environment.
Finally, I–like so many Catholic opinion junkies– admire the work of the popular Catholic blogger, Tom Peters, known for years by the title, American Papist. He is among the authors on CatholicVote. His opinion is valuable to me as a Catholic. The bishops, in their guidelines for Faithful Citizenship, instruct that “prudent advice and good example of others support and enlighten our conscience.” That is precisely why CatholicVote is an important resource for many Catholics in the endeavor to examine facts and information.
Catholic Voting Guide (Free) A national association of parish priests and deacons, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy created this non-partisan guide meant to be a tool to help voters make an intelligent decision on Election Day informed by faith and reason. It complements the USCCB Faithful Citizenship guidelines by breaking down vital moral principles (which the Church has clearly defined) and explaining what’s at stake if these principles are violated.
From developers: “This application helps you cast a responsible vote using a well-formed conscience based on Catholic moral principles. Six Vital Issues that every citizen should weigh in casting their ballot are: RIGHT TO LIFE; FREEDOM OF RELIGION (religious liberty); SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE; PRIVATE PROPERTY; ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL GOODS; WAR & PEACE.
This voting guide uses the USCCB Letter “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” and the CDF Letter “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion” as a foundation to identify, clarify and prioritize fundamental non-negotiable values that affect every citizen and every human being. Both documents are linked in the app.
As the screen shot illustrates, the app conveniently labels the essential issues outlined above. Select an icon to reveal text of the official position of the Catholic Church on each of the issues.
Both Catholic political action apps are strong on opinion, and that includes choices of material to present and material to omit. Once we begin to examine political issues in light of our Catholic faith and Gospel values (and with a prayerful, open soul as our bishops suggest), we understand that at some point a variety of viewpoints will surface. While these apps use the word, Catholic, in their titles, I think we get the fact that the Catholicity lies in the developers’ authentic efforts to examine the political landscape with THEIR suitably formed consciences as faithful Catholics. Think of these apps as commentary and content written and/or chosen by U.S. Catholics for U.S. Catholics and not from The Catholic Church itself. Like I said, most of us get that. But, clearly, not all of us–which is surely why Bishop Malone issued the alert.
We appreciate the valiant work Bishop Malone has done in guiding not only his flock in western New York State, but U.S. Catholics in general through his faithful and courageous service on various committees in the USCCB.