Explainer: ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ the U.S. bishops’ guidance on voting

The prelates in the guide state directly that they “do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.”

“Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth,” they write. “We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.”

Though the bishops in the document refrain from directly telling the faithful how to cast their ballots, they point out, quoting the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

“Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil,” the bishops write.

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position,” the guide states. 

Debate over abortion in the guide

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