As we move close to the voting for presidential and other candidates I anticipate the conservative Catholic bishops along with the Evangelical church’s to urge that it is immoral to vote for a candidate that doesn’t stand foursquare against abortion and gay marriage as the sole test for voting. I anticipate reading pronouncements in my diocesan newspaper applying moral tests to how Catholics should vote. I’ve commented previously about my views regarding this kind of convoluted, myopic vision of what’s good for America when we vote for candidates.
As we approach the election with the likelihood of pronouncements within my Catholic church about how Catholics should vote, we should keep in mind historical facts relating to the Bishops and the Vatican. Many modern Catholic bishops only look to the Vatican and the Pope who appointed them to office. However, the fact is that for many hundreds of years bishops in the Church were selected by the people and confirmed by the Pope. Their selection was a reflection of the cultural and moral norms of the people in their diocese. They represented the people in their diocese in fulfilling their duties to the Church. For 1,917 years no Pope claimed the exclusive right to appoint a bishop for a diocese without a consensus of approval from the people of the diocese. In is in very recent Church history that the Pope asserted the exclusive power and denied the historical role of the people in the selection of bishops.
When it comes to the Pope, we Catholics need to keep in mind that for many hundreds of years in the Catholic Church there was no claim of papal infallibility in the way it is asserted now by the Popes. This is another recent claim of power by Popes. In fact for 1,870 years there was no claim of infallibility like that being made by modern Popes. I’ve commented on this previously in this Blog (https://paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2007/05/pay_pray_and_ob.html). There remains theological controversy regarding the correct meaning and application of the asserted claim of infallibility.
I believe these are legitimate historical facts to consider when we Catholics are told by bishops and church authorities, directly or indirectly that we are compelled to vote for one candidate over another in order to avoid sin or that our moral obligation is to vote for a particular candidate over another because of stands on moral issues. I suggest we Catholics and citizens of America have inherent freedom of conscience as voters in a pluralistic society.
I realize these views may offend some of my fellow Catholics, but we need more openness and discussion in our Church. It is time to remember the advice of Pope John 23rd who said "I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in."