Franciscan Spirit Blog

Vote Your Conscience!

I answer questions for St. Anthony Messenger’s “Ask a Franciscan” column. A couple weeks after my November column went at the printer, someone wrote in asking about voting in the 2020 presidential election.

The writer was conflicted about voting for either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. I responded that the writer should vote for whichever candidate (not restricted to these two, of course) that the writer could honestly explain to God, face-to-face, deserved the writer’s vote.

Not all choices are matters of conscience (for example: Should I wear the brown shirt or the blue shirt today?). But some choices—and votes—are indeed matters of conscience.

Before the cardinals elected Pope Francis in March 2013, each one held up his ballot and swore publicly that he was voting for the person who, “before God,” he felt should be elected. Votes changed from one ballot to the next, but every time each cardinal identified his vote as one of conscience.

Voting for the president of the United States is not like electing a pope, but I think each type of vote should be a conscience vote. Each cardinal swore that this was true of the vote he was about to cast. Shouldn’t we be able to say the same about the person we have chosen to be the president?

If you have not already done so, please, honestly vote your conscience tomorrow.

Click here for a news report about a recent talk by Bishop Robert McElroy (San Diego) about voting in the 2020 general election.


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