Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville provided practical tips on Catholic political participation to young adults gathered on October 1, 2012 for Theology on Tap at a local McAllen pub.
At the event, sponsored by the Diocesan Office Campus and Young Adult Ministry, the bishop discussed how Catholics can prepare to vote, what defines a just society, and how and why the Catholic Church advocates on policy issues.
Addressing the importance of prayer and conscience formation, Bishop Flores reiterated that Catholics are called to participate in the public order by listening, debating, and formulating ideas and judgments based in the teachings of the faith. “A Catholic conscience is a conscience that is formed principally by the teaching of the Lord with regard to how it is that we live our human lives and how we relate to one another, and what our responsibilities are to one another,” he said. You can listen to his entire talk on the Texas Catholic Podcast or on iTunes.
Bishop Flores emphasized that the Church promotes reasoned discourse on important issues based on rational facts rather than partisan divides. “One of the enemies of a good, reasonable judgment about how to vote is a political passion that looks first to party loyalty,” he said. While Catholics can legitimately hold different perspectives on political issues, Bishop Flores explained that they cannot disagree on the reality that society must protect the most vulnerable. “Don’t let yourself be captured by a party in such a way that they dictate to you how you’re supposed to think about something.”
Rooted in faith, Catholics advocate for the creation of a just society. Bishop Flores defined a just society as one that furthers the common good, respects and protects all human life, and promotes a flourishing human life – the ability to eat, work, provide for a family, and obtain a quality education. By identifying and addressing areas where society fails at protecting the dignity of its people and providing for economic justice, Catholics can be part of a greater combined effort of government, civic organizations, and individuals to build a more just society, he stated.
Bishop Flores recommended the Texas Catholic Conference web site, www.TXcatholic.org, as a key resource for staying up-to-date on policy concerns that affect Valley Catholics. “At the state legislature things come up very fast,” said Bishop Flores. “One of the best ways you can be informed is to look at the Texas Catholic Conference web site. Because what we need is information, and not just more rhetoric.”