The following blog was contributed by Kathy Mears, interim president/CEO at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Arlington, Virginia.
As Catholics, we are called to participate in civic activities, to work for the common good.
We are called to vote.
As a principal, my school was a polling place and our eighth graders were treated to lessons from poll workers and voters. Our students recognized that our school was important, as we were a place where we selected our next president, governor and other elected officials. Our students saw firsthand that people had different opinions, but everyone was respected, and everyone had the right to express their hopes and dreams by choosing the candidate of his/her choice. I believe that most people still honor and respect that right and I know it is what our teachers are teaching.
Pope Francis stated, that if “the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,” the Church, “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 183). As members of the Church, we are called to be part of the solution to the problems we face. We are asked to do what we can to assist in the political process in order to work for outcomes that support the common good. Therefore, we vote, we serve, we do what our conscience calls us to do for the common good. We are guided by our faith, our consciences, our hearts and our minds.
We must also remember that the election will not solve our problems. People will still need employment, people will still need food, and healthcare will be needed by all tomorrow and the next day. The election does not end our civic responsibility. It is one point along the journey of faithful citizenship. It is but one way that we participate.
As in all elections, someone will win, and someone will lose. We are called to challenge each other to respond with kindness and respect after the election. We must model this and teach our students that our response shows our character.
Micah 6:8 asks what is required of us. The response: To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. It is our prayer that these words become our guide as we teach and learn during our electoral process. We pray for unity, grace, peace and mercy. We pray for our nation and its promise.