Dear Friends in Christ,
Very often over the course of the last several weeks, I’ve gotten the question: “What should I do on Election Day?” My answer is always the same: “VOTE!”
To be sure, some people might be looking for a bit more, even to the point of wanting me to tell them who the best candidate might be from my perspective, or from the perspective of the church.
That, I won’t do. That, the church won’t do. That, neither the church nor I can do. The church is not a political party nor any part of government. Neither am I. The church is not here to gain political power. Nor am I!
What the church does, what I attempt to do over and over again whether in the midst of a campaign for a president, or for a senator, or for a member of Congress, or for a governor, or for a county or a city council member, is to at best teach what we — you and I — believe, and then to encourage that we reflect that belief in the public arena and especially in the voting booth.
If we — you and I — do not bring the perspective of our faith into how we cast our ballots on Election Day, we are failing ourselves, failing our country, failing our church and failing even God! If we buy into a twisted mantra that “separation of church and state” means that the voice of faith is to be silent on public issues, or worse to buy into the schizophrenia that I can espouse one thing in church but another in the voting booth, we have accepted a second-class citizenship never intended by our Constitution, and worse an abdication of our religious freedom given to us by none other than God himself.
As bishop, my responsibility is not to tell you for whom to vote. My responsibility as your bishop is to reflect with you on the Catholic principles that must inform our political voice, our political action, our “faithful citizenship.”
The most basic principle is a commitment to uphold the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception until natural death. That principle is the primary (not a secondary, not a compromised) moral obligation to respect the dignity of every life, of every person as a unique creation of God. To do less is to give license to evil, intrinsic evil, for which we, as members of the church, bear no small responsibility.
Under this umbrella of respecting human life are these egregious attacks on human life: (1) abortion; (2) euthanasia; (3) embryonic stem-cell research; (4) human cloning. To support any of these practices and to vote for any candidate for the deliberate purpose of adding support for these attacks on human life is a denial of the sacredness of human life, and worse, an act that cooperates with evil.
At the very core of all Catholic social teaching — whether that teaching concerns issues of poverty, justice, economics, religious freedom or human rights — is the sacredness and dignity of every human life.
The church has the obligation to help build a culture where the dignity and sacredness of every person — particularly the innocent, the poor and the vulnerable — is recognized as a paramount virtue.
The Gospel does not accept silent witness to the truth because Jesus was outspoken about the truth! The church, as the body of Christ, is required:
• To speak out for innocent human life, particularly the right to life of the unborn;
• To speak out for and with the sick and the dying;
• To speak out for marriage between husband and wife, between one man and one woman, and the sacredness of the family;
• To speak out for the poor, the unemployed and the underemployed;
• To speak out for the immigrant and the imprisoned;
• To speak out for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation;
• To speak out for all who are vulnerable, hurting or suffering;
• To speak out for peace and for justice.
And, finally, and certainly not the least of it all, the church must speak out for religious freedom, whenever and wherever it is threatened, for freedom is the cornerstone of all our liberties given to us as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Religious freedom is far more than just the right to worship. It is the right to live our faith freely in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our country, in our world, and especially to give voice to our beliefs in the voting booth. No one has the right to take away that right, the right of religious liberty, even if they think they have the power to do so.
Over these last few weeks, I have tried to share with you the perspective of faith as we approach Election Day. My recent columns in the Pittsburgh Catholic, all five of them beginning with the Oct. 5 issue and ending with this week’s, looked at the many issues that describe what it means to be pro-life in a month focused on pro-life. I hope you found them helpful. (If you didn’t see them, they are available on our diocesan website at www.diopitt.org.)
And so again — on this Election Day: “VOTE!” And when you enter the voting booth, don’t leave your faith, don’t leave your Catholic principles and beliefs, outside. Vote with a clear understanding that you have not only the right, but the absolute duty to do so as a responsible citizen of this country and as a cherished member of this church.
What will serve our nation, no matter what the outcome of the elections, is if you and I do the best to exercise our power to vote with the power of the truth.
Godspeed! God bless you as the faithful of the Church of Pittsburgh! God bless me as shepherd of the Church of Pittsburgh! God bless the United States of America!
Grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I am
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh sure has an abundance of good bishops! Thank you, Bishop Zubik for once again daring to say the hard words; to be a voice for the unborn, the suffering, and the poor; to be a consistent and faithful shepherd of the faithful. I am honored to call you my brother in Christ, my fellow Pittsburgher and beloved bishop... even though I'm not of your particular part of the flock. I'm pretty sure we're going to punch different buttons on election day (though maybe not... I am not even a hundred percent certain who I'll vote for on Tuesday... ) but I am honored to stand with you in your Kingdom mission!