As the elections get closer, statements are being made in the media and social media about how Catholics should or should not vote. Arkansas Catholic asked Bishop Anthony B. Taylor to summarize our duties as Catholics and voters.
Q. Can a bishop, priest, sister or Church leader say that someone is going to hell because they vote for a particular candidate? Is it a mortal sin to vote for one candidate over the other?
A. "In voting it is only a sin if your reason for voting for that particular candidate is your support of a sinful policy that the particular candidate promotes, and make no mistake about it, both of our two principal political parties advocate policies that are inconsistent with what we believe as Catholics.
“We live in an imperfect world and have a lot of things to weigh as we prepare to vote. It is no sin at all if, exercising prudence and weighing all the issues, you choose to vote for the person who you believe will be best for the country, all things considered.
“It is a rash use of their teaching authority for a bishop, priest, deacon or any other Church leader to say that someone is going to hell simply because they vote for the candidate that they think will be best. But let me remind you, as I did in my letter to the people of the diocese last February, that there are third parties on our ballot to consider -- for instance the American Solidarity Party -- whose platform, at least, addresses many of the principles in Catholic social teaching. Both our present Republican and Democratic parties were once third parties in the days of the Federalists and Whigs.
“In any event, while it is not the role of the Church to tell its members who to vote for or against, the Church has a legitimate role in helping Catholics acquire a well-formed conscience so that they will make morally informed decisions when they exercise their right and duty to vote."
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