ELECTIONS, CULTURE AND CONSCIENCE
ERIE --“The issues we address are complex and often prompt divisiveness,” says Eric Failing, executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC).
Failing will offer a presentation, “Elections, Culture and Conscience,” in Gannon University’s Zurn 104, Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 pm. He expects to entertain questions as part of the event, a joint initiative of Gannon and the Diocese of Erie that is free and open to the public.
“The social arena is not a sporting event with winners and losers,” Failing said in a phone interview with the Diocese of EriE-News. “All issues affect all people. Our decisions about them are always driven by universal love. Civility is key to evangelization with love and wisdom, not ‘wins.’”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs arm of the commonwealth’s Catholic bishops and dioceses, works to inform and educate the Catholic faithful and the general public about issues important to Catholics. Failing noted that the PCC considers a breadth of issues consistent with its pro-life mission “from natural conception to natural death.”
“As Catholics,” he said, “we need to maintain consistency with the teachings of Jesus.”
Failing’s organization meets regularly with legislators concerning a variety of issues in the public forum. Their commitment to life issues extends beyond the topic of protecting life before birth to include laws relating to subjects ranging from human trafficking and fair and equal education to immigration. Informing the agenda, he says, is this question: “How does our Catholic faith drive our political consciousness?”
Among current projects, Failing described a revised approach to voter guides distributed prior to elections. Rather than having legislators and candidates respond to surveys, the PCC now tracks the voting records of legislators. Going forward, voters will be able to review the way each legislator has voted on a variety of relevant issues.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently encouraged Catholics to become informed and involved citizens, issuing documents related to faith and citizenship since 1976. Their landmark publication, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” was last revised in 2015, and they recently voted to supplement it with a letter, videos and additional resources in 2018.
“We vote because we are citizens,” the document says. “We vote conscientiously because we are people of faith. Our consciences are formed through studying Scriptures and the teachings of the church, examination of the facts and prayerful reflection. Stay well informed, remain in contact with representatives and engage in reasoned and compassionate dialogue.”
The document can be found in its entirety at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship.