I write to you, my brother sisters, with words of encouragement as your bishop and fellow citizen of this great country.
My first encouragement is that each of us who can vote in this November’s election do so. Do not abdicate your right to vote. It is a privilege and a duty. I give thanks to God that my family and I live in the United States of America as free citizens who can exercise the right to vote without coercion or concern that our government or any agency would work to thwart either my right to vote or the intention of my vote. With that in mind, we must exercise that right to vote and have our voices heard. This is especially true here in Vermont where many are standing for local and state offices, positions that often have a greater impact on our day to day lives than national offices.
Secondly, I ask that as people of faith we not leave that faith in Jesus Christ and in his Church at the door of the voting booth but allow that faith to inform the choices we make in that booth. I encourage you to spend some time in prayer prior to voting, asking the Holy Spirit to infuse you with her guidance in making choices that are in keeping with our faith and the common good of all. This is especially true in making choices that, as Cardinal Dolan of New York recently wrote, promote the dignity of the human person, as something “to be defended and promoted as a first priority, a dignity not dependent upon race, green card, stock portfolio, age, or health; [and] the sacredness of human life, from the instant of conception to the holy moment of natural passing, to be defended vigorously rather than diluted and then discarded.”
My final encouragement is to be people of “Good News,” doing and saying only the good things that men and women need to hear, things that will lift them up. There is already too much anger, vitriol, and incivility in our culture today. We do not need to add to it but instead apply a cure: kindness, charity, and mutual respect for each other as brothers and sisters created in the image of God.
May God bless America.
[For those who are interested in further instruction and guidance from the Church on these matters, I direct you to the US Bishops’ teaching on “Faithful Citizenship” at www.faithfulcitizenship.org]