By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
DYERSVILLE —On the evening of Feb. 1, Iowans will brave the cold, the snow and whatever else winter may throw at them, to support the presidential candidate of their choice and to participate in the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. The Iowa caucuses, different from primaries, in which individuals go to a polling place, cast a ballot and quickly leave, are instead more like meetings, where people gather together with their neighbors to discuss and vote in local churches, schools or community centers. One such place where Iowans will soon gather to caucus and have their political voices heard will be Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville.
Beckman High School has long served as a caucus site for several precincts in the western part of Dubuque County, due to its central location and the size of its facilities, which can accommodate large turnout. Pat Meade, Beckman’s principal, said that caucus-goers typically fill the school’s auditorium, library, commons area and three to four of its classrooms.
Though the caucus will take place in the evening, when Beckman’s students are not in class, Meade said he believed that having the school serve as a caucus site still provides an opportunity for the school’s seventh through 12th grade students to learn about the election process. “Some social studies classes have used this, and we usually host a candidate forum/debate each election cycle,” he said. “Students attend for government, sociology and American history class. They usually come with questions for the candidates.”
Catechesis before the caucuses
By Dan Russo
DUBUQUE — On Feb. 1, the eyes of the nation will be on Iowa as the state’s caucus goers make their picks of the top Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. This unique political event is a huge opportunity for Catholics and others to do their civic duty.
It’s a good time for a little last-minute catechesis about the Catholic perspective on elections and citizenship. Archbishop Michael Jackels recently wrote a piece for The Witness on Catholics’ duty to participate in the political process, which can be read online at www.dbqarch.org/catholics-and-voting-understanding-our-duty/.
The Catholic Church is non-partisan and does not endorse political parties or individual candidates, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The latest political activity and lobbying guidelines for Catholic organizations can be read at www.usccb.org/. For individual Catholics, there is a faithful citizenship guide. It can be read online, also at the USCCB website.
“This document is to be read prayerfully and in its totality,” write the bishops. “It would be a serious mistake—and one that occurs with regrettable frequency—to use only selected parts of the Church’s teaching to advance partisan political interests or validate ideological biases. All of us are called to be servants to the whole truth in authentic love, and it is our fervent hope and prayer that this document will provide aid to all those seeking to heed this call.”
Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the church’s role striving to “inspire right attitudes with respect to earthly goods and in socio-economic relationships.” (Catechism #2420)
“The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible,” wrote Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas Est in 2006. “She cannot and must not replace the state. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to re-awaken spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.”
There are many hot topics being debated this election cycle. Below are several of the issues making the most headlines and some wisdom from the official teachings of the church in no particular order:
Immigration: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin … Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” (CCC #2241)
Abortion/Contraception/Respect Life: “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of the state based on law are undermined … As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conceptions, the law must provide apporiate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights. (CCC #2273/CDF, Donum vitae III)
War: “The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life … the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war. All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, ‘as long as the danger of war persists … governments cannot be denied the right to lawful self-defense once all peace efforts have failed. (CCC 2307-2309)
Poverty: “Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events ….” (CCC 2439-43)
Religious Freedom: “…the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of natural freedoms … such as ‘the right to act according to the norm of conscience and to safeguard … privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion. (CCC 1907)
This story is provided courtesy of The Witness, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.