By all accounts, this has been one of the most contentious and divisive election seasons in recent memory. However, at the end of it, we have a new president.
One of the hallmarks of our country, a primary reason the United States is looked at as a stable power in the world, is the peaceful transition of power at the change of government from person-to-person, political party-to-political party.
One important effect of this is at the personal level. In our communities, workplaces, and perhaps even our own families, we must come together peacefully to govern, to work and to care for each other.
Regardless of whether this was or wasn’t the candidate you voted for, we must now move forward and work within the results of the election.
Certainly, as we know in the Catholic Church, there are political issues that require an unequivocal outcome, the sanctity of life, religious freedom and the care of the poor, to name but three. However, the political process that revolves around these issues should always be open, honest and accomplished with compassion.
Gridlock, heartless division and a refusal to calmly discuss the issues does no one, neither the country, nor the world, nor ourselves any favors. In fact, they harm the common good and are disruptive of good order in the public arena.
During this election season you have read several articles in the Catholic Star Herald that encourage us as Christians to make ourselves a part of the political discourse. That includes after the campaigning and elections. We need to be active every year, not just every four years. There are plenty of opportunities in local government in our towns, cities and communities to be politically engaged as informed Catholics.
While the separation of church and state is a valued principle of the country, we know that the secular world and faith coexist daily. It is our duty to make sure that Christian principles are not lost in this secular world. That people are not reduced to merely data.
As noted in the opening passages of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship, “As Catholics, we are part of a community with a rich heritage that helps us consider the challenges in public life and contribute to greater justice and peace for all people. Part of that rich heritage on faithful citizenship is the teaching of Vatican Council II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae). It says that ‘society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in [people’s] faithfulness to God and to His holy will’ (no. 6).”
So as we come together after the election, I encourage you to continue to peacefully remain part of the political process. Let us, as Catholics, be a beacon of good stewardship of our country and our communities. And, let us pray to God for our country and our elected officials.