The question of which political party is more in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church is always bound to spark some heated debate. Some make the argument that a Catholic can never vote for a Democrat, while others say the Republicans are woefully out of touch with the church’s ideals on a number of social issues. So where does that leave Catholic voters?
According to John Carr, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, Catholics who follow their faith are a population without a party. Or as Carr labels himself, “politically homeless.”
Speaking to more than 400 Catholics working in various areas of the church’s social outreach efforts Sunday at the opening of the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C., Carr discussed the challenges before Catholic voters during this pivotal election year. The focus was on the U.S. bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, which is designed to help Catholic understand the complexities of voting without violating their faith.
Carr reminds us that Catholics are supposed to stand up for their faith even when it goes against what their political party leaders are preaching. The problem is that being a faithful Catholic in today’s political landscape will almost always require going against the party line at some point.
Carr notes that the Republicans are strong on a number of Catholic issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and they have been vocal in supporting the church’s fight to preserve religious liberty. But Carr adds that being Catholic is about more than just the religious liberty issue, it is about caring for “the lost, the least, and the left out,” and the GOP’s stance on issues like poverty and immigration leave a lot to be desired.
On the Democrat side, there are often concerns about the life and marriage issues, and Carr also says he’s not hearing a strong enough message from the Democrats on protecting the poor these days. So in one way or another, both parties are failing Catholics, leaving us “politically homeless.”
The only solution is for Catholics to put aside party affiliation and work together on the issues that are crucial to their faith: protecting human life at all stages, defending the poor and vulnerable, promoting peace and justice, and putting the common good ahead of individual interests. No matter what party gets control of Congress or who sits in the White House, Catholics are always going to have to make sure their faith concerns aren’t overlooked. Because inevitably, they will be.
I’ll be in Washington for the remainder of the week attending the rest of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, so stay tuned for further updates.