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Resources on Politics

Resources For Reflection On Citizenship And Voting In The Light Of Catholic Social Teaching

The best place to start is with the document issued by the US Catholic Bishops in November 2007: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

A series of articles by Amy Uelmen, the director of Fordham's Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer's Work, may be helpful for further reflection:

Articles on Conscience and Citizenship in the Catholic Tradition:

  • Conscience Forming, Getting Ready for the Election Cycle, 47 Living City 6-9 (January 2008). A brief overview of the document issued by the US Bishop's Conference in 2007.  Download PDF
  • "It's Hard Work": Reflections on Conscience and Citizenship in the Catholic Tradition, 47 J. Catholic Legal Studies, number 2, 317 (2008). Which voter's guide gives the most reliable account of Catholic teaching? This essay compares Forming Consciences, the document issued by the US Bishop's Conference in November 2007, with the Catholic Action Answers' "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics." It argues that Serious Catholics fails to captures the tradition's nuanced intersection between moral values and their practical implementation in the sphere of politics; and that Forming Consciences serves as a more complete and helpful guide for Catholic voters. Download PDF
  • Is Conscience King? 45 Living City 12-13 (November 2006) Winner of a 2007 Catholic Press Association Award for Best Essay, the essay probes the flawed understanding of conscience in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and highlights conscience as sacred space for conversation with God. Download PDF
  • Traveling Light: Pilgrim Law and the Nexus between Law, Politics and Catholic Social Thought, 22 J. Law & Religion 445-479 (2006-2007) Why is reasoned conversation between "values voters" and "progressives" often difficult? Against the backdrop of the tensions within the 2004 "Catholic vote," this essay locates part of the tension in conflicting interpretations of the nature and role of law. It suggests that PILGRIM LAW, Robert E. Rodes' work of jurisprudence, might serve as a creative and constructive resource to melt polarization enough to understand and navigate tensions both within Catholic social teaching and in our current political climate. Download PDF
  • The Spirituality of Communion: A Resource for Dialogue with Catholics in Public Life, 43 Catholic Lawyer 289-310 (2004) In response to the 2004 debates over whether Catholic pro-choice politicians should be admitted to receive communion, this essay begins with a broader question: What is the relationship between the Eucharist and political commitment? Weaving together texts from John Paul II's Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and the US Bishop's 2003 guide for reflection on political life, Faithful Citizenship, the essay concludes that just about every politician who claims to have a Catholic perspective on political life could be more consistent with the broad and overarching vision of Catholic social teaching. It then suggests that Pope John Paul II's descriptions of a spirituality to make the Church the home and the school of communion are a precious resource for the dialogue with Catholics in public life, and more generally, to overcome the tensions which have plagued both the Church and the broader public discourse. Download PDF

Other Resources on Politics and the Catholic Tradition:

  • The Beauty of Bella, 47 Living City 26-27 (February 2008) (film review) An appreciative review of how the film Bella captures core Catholic commitments to building a culture of life. Download PDF
  • Torture and the Ticking Time Bomb, 45 Living City 9-11 (July 2006) This essay argues that in our world of uncertainty, the acceptance of torture at any level, in any circumstance, leads to and fosters a culture of violence, brutality and fear.
  • Immigration, National Security and a United World, 44 Living City 12-15 (June 2005) A reflection on the immigration debate in light of John Paul II's invitation to conversion, solidarity and communion in his 1999 letter to the Church in America.
  • Faithful Citizenship: Strengthening the Social Fabric, 43 Living City 6-9 (October 2004) An overview of the major themes in the 2003 statement by the US Bishop's Conference on how Catholic social teaching informs a view of politics and political participation.
  • A Positive Vision of Politics, 42 Living City 2 (Aug/Sept 2003) Highlights Catholic social thought resources which foster a hopeful and constructive attitude toward political life.
  • Reconciling Evangelization and Dialogue through Love of Neighbor, 52 Villanova Law Review, number 2, 303-329 (2007)
    Illustrations of the reconciliation of evangelization and dialogue include an international movement of politicians who build relationships of trust across the ideological divide in order to work together for the common good (see pp. 320-325).