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Neela Kale Answers:
If you’re already familiar with the US Bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, you’re off to a good start. This document, reissued in 2011 in anticipation of the presidential election cycle, helps Catholics discern how the teaching of the Church can apply in matters of public policy. Check out the USCCB website at http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ for the full text of the document and many other excellent resources. Your next step should be to inform yourself more deeply about the particular issues that are at stake. What policies are being proposed on your local or state ballot, and what does the Church have to say about these issues? What local, state and national offices are to be decided, and what are the candidates’ positions on the issues that are most important to you? The US Bishops’ statements are good sources of information about Church teaching on current public policy concerns; other magisterial writings such as papal encyclicals and the Vatican II documents also apply Catholic principles to current affairs. The better informed you are about what the Church teaches, the better equipped you are to make faithful decisions in the voting booth. Seldom are the choices involved in voting black and white, especially when choosing among candidates for office. Most candidates will hold some positions that align with Catholic teaching and some that go against it; as a voter you must discern carefully and make the best choice possible. Finally – and this is really the most important step – pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you to make the choices that are most true to your faith, and pray that the Spirit will guide our nation’s leaders in their service to the community that elects them.