‘Your Faith, Your Vote & the 2012 Election’

“Politics & the Pews: Your Faith, Your Vote & the 2012 Election” will be the topic of the 12th annual Romero Lecture Series on Friday, March 23. The event will be held at Rutgers University-Camden.

The keynote speaker will be Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington.

Each year near the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Romero Center Ministries holds the Romero Lecture Series, a day-long event focused on a particular social justice theme. This year’s guiding theme is Faithful Citizenship.

The U.S. bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” (www.faithfulcitizenship.org) traditionally is released a year before the presidential election as a teaching document on the role of faith and conscience in political life. This time around the bishops reissued their 2007 document but added a new introductory note explaining that the document reflects their teaching and their guidance for Catholics as they exercise their rights and duties under American democracy.

During a conference on the document at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York in September 2011, Schneck said it conveys the “glory and richness” of Catholic teaching and recognizes that politics and government are designed by the Creator and are useful for human dignity and the common good.

He said the document confuses some readers who look for “absolute and specific criteria that can be applied judicially to make a summary judgment that voting for such-and-such candidate would always be wrong. Politics is not reducible to morality in quite that way. Prudence is the primary virtue in political life,” he said.

When Republican House Speaker John Boehner was scheduled to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at Catholic University in May 2011, Schneck was among 70 faculty members and others who signed a letter saying his voting record varies from the church’s long-standing moral teaching that “those in power are morally obligated to preference the needs of the poor.”

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