Catholic Bishops on the Fall Election – Second Message

Here is the message about the fall election for this weekend:

This is the second of four bulletin inserts to offer guidance and reflection points from Illinois’ Catholic Bishops in preparation for the elections of November 6, 2012. (The first insert was an introduction to this effort.)

A conscience formed by our Catholic faith is needed to bring our moral principles to the debate about issues and candidates. We feel compelled, here at the beginning, to clarify the definition of conscience, because some cite their conscience as a justification for immoral public policy positions or support for a candidate whose positions conflict with the common good.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” [John 14:1-7]

“How can we know the way?” This is a question Christians have been asking since the beginning, and one that we must continue to ask today. Like St. Thomas, we know that we cannot find the truth by turning in upon ourselves. Rather we look to Christ and to His Church—for the Church is one with Christ.

To help us know the way, God has placed in each of us a CONSCIENCE, which “bears witness to the truth in reference to the Supreme Good.”1 In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey.”2 Conscience does not make us morally self-sufficient, but points us toward the truth for which we were made and which alone can make us free. [John 8:32]

Thus, while one must never knowingly act against the clear judgment of his or her own conscience, it is also true that a conscience can only act as a reliable moral guide when it is well-formed. With a spirit of humility and love we reaffirm the words of our brother bishops, reminding all the faithful that it is the “moral responsibility of each Catholic to hear, receive, and act upon the Church’s teaching in the lifelong task of forming his or her own conscience.”3

A well-formed conscience requires, first of all, a genuine desire to embrace goodness and truth and to avoid evil. For Catholics this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth revealed to us in Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

Because sin and neglect can distort the judgment of our conscience, prayerful discernment—aided by the wisdom of the Church and the grace of the sacraments, especially reconciliation and the Eucharist—is necessary for a well-formed conscience. Catholics must understand that if they fail to form their consciences they can make erroneous moral judgments.

Conscience is more than a feeling or intuition; it is a judgment of reason whereby a person recognizes the moral quality of a specific, concrete act.4 Moral decision making requires the clearest possible understanding of the specific act being judged. In short, a well-formed conscience will be a well-informed conscience.

It is to that end that we offer these words of guidance, and to which we implore you to make every effort to learn the teachings of the Church and to form your conscience well.

In the next insert beginning on October 14th, we will discuss how a well-formed conscience and prudential judgment guide the decisions we make as citizens and voters. Additional information can be found on the Catholic Conference of Illinois website,, or in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) publication, Faithful Citizenship (

= = = = =
1 CCC, 1777.
2 Gaudium et Spes, 16
3 Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 5
4 CCC, 1778


Catholic Bishops on the Fall Election – Second Message — 7 Comments

  1. LCTruth…..actually, the Catholic Church is holding its own in terms of numbers.

    It’s the LIBERAL Protestant Churches that will be extinct in the next 50 years.

    Orthodox Catholic Seminaries are full and growing.

    Orthodox Convents are on the increase in enrollment.

    Catholic Parishes and schools are becoming more traditional and “Catholic”. T

    his is bringing the truly faithful back.

    Liberal Seminaries and Convents are closing.

    What’s happening regarding the slight decrease in numbers is that the Liberal Catholics, who care little for the Church as a whole, are indeed leaving.

    This is actually GOOD thing for the Church.

  2. Take away tax breaks for churches that want to get involved with politics.

    After all there should be a separation of church and state in America.

    You can follow your conscience but churches should not be dictating laws.

  3. Sharon: Do you simultaneously criticize the Christian Churches for not doing enough to fight Nazism in the 1930s?

    Which is it, Sharon.

    Should the Church be involved in politics or should they not be?

    How about segregation, and the REVEREND Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Should he have kept out of politics too?

    Is this what you teach your children, Sharon?

  4. Ok Sharon have it your way but let’s tax Unions, Super PACs and all NFPs for that matter.

    Why should one tax exempt group be targeted over another?

  5. Go ahead tax unions, superpacs etc.

    Tax the NRA.

    Let people pay for not obeying traffic laws and there would be no deficit.

    Church leaders can have opinions but when they preach from the pulpit they should pay taxes regardless of what religion it is.

  6. Also skeptic look at how the republican leaders talk about our President if you are concerned with segregation. Sununu calling him lazy and a boy.

    Romney referring him lying like his boys.

    He is a man in the highest position in the world and republicans continue to show disrespectful signs and call him names.

    Going to church on Sunday won’t save souls that act so badly daily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *