On October 15, Campus Ministry and the Student Government Association at the Catholic University of America invited members of the greater University community to a panel discussion on the upcoming election. Catholic Law Professor Lucia Silecchia joined the panel to discuss the upcoming election and how those who are Catholic might exercise their responsibilities as faithful citizens. After the prepared comments by the panelists, they engaged in a discussion of thoughtful questions submitted by participants. Much of the conversation centered on discussion of the USCCB statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
In her comments, Silecchia quoted the U.S. bishops’ observation in Forming Consciences that “Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the Church’s comprehensive commitment to the life and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death. Yet, this is not a time for retreat or discouragement; rather it is a time for renewed engagement.”
She asked attendees to recall that responsible citizenship extends far beyond voting in a presidential election. Rather, it also entails responsible discussion of and advocacy about critical issues between election cycles when important decisions are made and party platforms developed. She urged Catholics to become engaged in many other important ways of citizen participation such as expressing their views in the public square through writing letters, testifying on important issues, writing op-eds and speaking, responsibly, to others about the issues they hold dear. In this context, she briefly highlighted the basic themes of Catholic social teaching.
She also reiterated the importance of elections other than the presidential election since many critically important decisions with moral implications are made in Congress and on the state and local level. Her remarks urged those in attendance to spend time alone and in prayer to consider how the responsibility of voting can best be exercised in accord with an informed conscience.
She strongly encouraged students to enter political life themselves to evangelize both political parties to better serve the human family by being the type of public servant of whom Pope Francis spoke when he made the unlikely prayer, “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians.”