What Is Really At Stake for Catholic Voters in this Election | Fr. David Vincent Meconi, SJ | HPR Editorial
In his Republic, Plato argues that we all get the government we deserve. That is, the political leaders of any given people are a direct reflection of what those people hold dear. Does a society think riches are the defining characteristic of excellence? Their leaders will no doubt be elected because they are billionaires. Does a society think military might is the most important factor? The leaders of that citizenry will be hawkish soldiers, mindful of nothing but their own ability to dominate.
These days, we all have our minds on government. The political wrangling, insincere promises, and shameless currying of favor has filled our ears and souls for many, many months now. Many in the country have been attracted to the fresh (yet, candidly too fresh) voice and bravado of Trump; many find Clinton’s supposed solicitude for the under-served comforting. I doubt many of us trust either of them, surely neither fully, but their candidacies have only reminded me how far ahead the Church is in proclaiming truth, the dignity of human freedom, the true nature of liberty and the common good. No party can do what the Church does, not even come close, as the prophets will always outrun the politicians. So what are we to do? Fr. John Lankeit of the Diocese of Phoenix fed his faithful with a sermon treating the 2016 presidential election from one of the best Catholic perspectives I have heard from the pulpit in a very long time (if you haven’t watched it, please do so).
Fr. Lankeit also begins by reminding us that we faithful Catholics will never find a lasting home here. But that does not mean we become so other-worldly that we neglect this one! As Americans, we all have the responsibility to vote; and as Catholic, we all have the duty to vote rightly. In his sermon, Fr. Lankeit teaches the faithful that we are surrounded by a myriad of important issues, and that living as a Catholic in America is not always an easy thing. Yet, political issues must be ordered properly: the depletion of our inner-cities, financial matters, racial injustice, healthcare, and the other items on both the Democratic and Republican platforms are all of concern. But they are not of equal concern, and the wise person is able to distinguish between those things which can allow for leeway and thus disagreement, and those issues which are absolute and cannot allow for any latitude.
Therefore, we hear how Fr. Lankeit leads his flock through an exercise of self-reflection, meant for all of us. He never names names, and he never insists on the superiority of one party over another. What he does do is simply hold up a mirror to the American voter to have each of us reflect on what we think is essential in the building up of our great nation.