How to Vote Catholic, in Brief

Catholic Voting

  • Catholics are obliged to participate in politics by voting.
  • Legislators are elected to serve and protect the common good, human dignity, and rights of human persons.
  • Voters should have a clear understanding of the principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.
  • The life issues are dominant in the hierarchy of issues for the Catholic voter.

Prudential Judgment

  • Prudential judgment is the application of principle to con­crete situations.
  • Catholic principles apply to all political issues but in many cases do not lead prudentially to one acceptable Catholic position.
  • The bishops’ teachings on faith and morals are binding; their prudential judgments on policy guide us but do not bind us.

Public Witness

  • The Christian Faith cannot be restricted to oneself and one’s family, making it impossible to “love one’s neighbor.”
  • The principle of subsidiarity teaches that Catholics should first address social problems at the local level before asking the government to intervene.
  • Politics and government need the public witness of what faith teaches about the common good, human rights, and human dignity.


  • Abortion is the dominant political issue.
  • Being pro-abortion disqualifies a candidate from a Catho­lic vote.
  • Catholics can justly support politicians who advocate in­cremental means toward eliminating abortion.


  • The ban against euthanasia and assisted suicide admits of no exception.
  • Removing extraordinary means of supporting life is allow­able as a prudential judgment.
  • The growing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted sui­cide rests on the misguided assumption that pain detracts from the value of life.


  • Since science serves human ends, not its own, scientific research must always respect the moral law.
  • Science must respect the inherent dignity of the human person.
  • Unused and unwanted embryos must be treated with the respect afforded to other human beings.
  • Ending human life cannot be justified in the name of thera­peutic (i.e., medical) benefits to other persons.


  • Population policy must not include abortion and steriliza­tion as methods of slowing population growth.
  • The use of contraception in population policy undermines marriage and ignores the moral issues of promiscuity and disease.
  • Catholic institutions should not be required to support contraception or abortion through mandated insurance coverage.
  • The right to abortion should not be allowed to enter in­ternational law under the rubric of women’s “reproductive health” or fears of overpopulation.

The Death Penalty

  • The Church teaches that the death penalty is acceptable in principle but should be avoided in practice.
  • The responsibility of elected officials is to ensure that pe­nal systems and sentencing policies do in fact protect soci­ety from known aggressors.
  • The practical elimination of the death penalty is based upon the strength of the penal system and the commensu­rateness of the sentencing procedures.


  • States have the right to engage in war in self-defense but should first exhaust all peaceful solutions.
  • Just war is waged within defined moral boundaries in re­gard to its targets, goals, and outcomes.
  • Political leadership must have both the inclination toward peace and the capacity for decisive action if war is just and necessary.

Defense and Terrorism

  • Nations have a duty to protect their citizens from legitimate threats.
  • Nations should build their capacity for defense in light of just-war theory.
  • Terrorism—the injury and murder of innocent civilians— is never justified.
  • Defending a nation combines the military, international diplomacy, and a compassionate foreign policy.

Judicial Issues

  • Judges should be evaluated according to their judicial re­cords and commitment to the limited judicial role, not at­tacked for their privately held religious views.
  • Those who would nominate and confirm judicial activists disenfranchise the faithful Catholic voter.
  • Catholic leaders have a duty to respect their constituents and their Church’s commitment to natural law tradition when considering judicial appointees.

Marriage and the Family

  • Marriage was instituted prior to the state and should be recognized by the state as something inviolate and neces­sary to the common good.
  • Prudential judgments about law and public policy should always seek to strengthen marriage and families.
  • So-called same-sex marriages cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church, and civil unions are likely to undermine marriage and damage its foundational role in society.


  • Parents—not the state–have the right to educate their children.
  • Catholic parents have the right to have their chil­dren educated in a curriculum consonant with Catho­lic values.
  • Governments should provide financial support to families for the education they desire for their children.

Economic Issues

  • Work is a matter of human dignity and is necessary to the common good.
  • Government should create the conditions that support business and industry development.
  • Corporate responsibility is critical in helping to maintain economic success.


  • Taxes should be fairly based upon one’s ability to pay.
  • Tax policy should not penalize marriage or the raising of children.
  • Corporate taxes should not threaten the capacity to create and sustain jobs.


  • The preferential option for the poor requires that authori­ties first provide assistance to the poor and oppressed.
  • The poor must have access to the education and job train­ing necessary to compete in today’s job market.
  • Strong families that remain intact keep their members from falling into poverty.

Health Care

  • Health-care needs should be met by a combination of per­sonal and corporate insurance, philanthropy, and govern­ment programs.
  • Catholic health-care organizations must be free to per­form their work with clear consciences.
  • Abstinence and fidelity should be the foundation of sexu­ally transmitted disease—education and prevention.

Religious Liberty

  • Religious expression is a human right that should be rec­ognized by the state.
  • States that enforce secularism in social services and educa­tion are violating religious liberty.
  • Political debate naturally involves religious concepts since law and public policy directly affect the common good.


  • A nation should seek to accommodate the immigrant who, for just reasons, seeks greater access to the basic goods of life.
  • Political leaders and citizens should recognize the reality of human interdependence that crosses all borders and all national identities.
  • The immigrant is a person who deserves the same protec­tion of law and social benefits afforded to citizens.

The Environment

  • From creation, human beings are given special responsi­bility as stewards of the earth.
  • As part of its duty to the common good, the government should prevent unnecessary harm to natural resources.
  • Government should also use creative and technological skill, in concert with global cooperation, to reverse existing environmental damage.


  • Deal W. Hudson

    Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of "Church and Culture," a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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