How to Vote Catholic: A Brief Guide

Deal W. Hudson

• Catholics are obliged to participate in politics by voting.
• Legislators are elected to serve and protect the common good, human dignity, and rights of human persons.
• Voters should have a clear understanding of the principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.
• The life issues are dominant in the hierarchy of issues for the Catholic voter.

Prudential Judgment
• Prudential judgment is the application of principle to concrete situations.
• Catholic principles apply to all political issues but in many cases do not lead prudentially to one acceptable Catholic position.
• The bishops’ teachings on faith and morals are binding; their prudential judgments on policy guide us but do not bind us.
Public Witness
• The Christian Faith cannot be restricted to oneself and one’s family, making it impossible to “love one’s neighbor.”
• The principle of subsidiarity teaches that Catholics should first address social problems at the local level before asking the government to intervene.
• Politics and government need the public witness of what faith teaches about the common good, human rights, and human dignity.

• Abortion is the dominant political issue.
• Being pro-abortion disqualifies a candidate from a Catholic vote.
• Catholics can justly support politicians who advocate incremental means toward eliminating abortion.
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
• The ban against euthanasia and assisted suicide admits of no exception.
• Removing extraordinary means of supporting life is allowable as a prudential judgment.
• The growing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide rests on the misguided assumption that pain detracts from the value of life.

• Since science serves human ends, not its own, scientific research must always respect the moral law.
• Science must respect the inherent dignity of the human person.
• Unused and unwanted embryos must be treated with the respect afforded to other human beings.
• Ending human life cannot be justified in the name of therapeutic (i.e., medical) benefits to other persons.

• Population policy must not include abortion and sterilization as methods of slowing population growth.
• The use of contraception in population policy undermines marriage and ignores the moral issues of promiscuity and disease.
• Catholic institutions should not be required to support contraception or abortion through mandated insurance coverage.
• The right to abortion should not be allowed to enter international law under the rubric of women’s “reproductive health” or fears of overpopulation.

The Death Penalty
• The Church teaches that the death penalty is acceptable in principle but should be avoided in practice.
• The responsibility of elected officials is to ensure that penal systems and sentencing policies do in fact protect society from known aggressors.
• The practical elimination of the death penalty is based upon the strength of the penal system and the commensurateness of the sentencing procedures.

• States have the right to engage in war in self-defense but should first exhaust all peaceful solutions.
• Just war is waged within defined moral boundaries in regard to its targets, goals, and outcomes.
• Political leadership must have both the inclination toward peace and the capacity for decisive action if war is just and necessary.

Defense and Terrorism
• Nations have a duty to protect their citizens from legitimate threats.
• Nations should build their capacity for defense in light of just-war theory.
• Terrorism—the injury and murder of innocent civilians—is never justified.
• Defending a nation combines the military, international diplomacy, and a compassionate foreign policy.

Judicial Issues
• Judges should be evaluated according to their judicial records and commitment to the limited judicial role, not attacked for their privately held religious views.
• Those who would nominate and confirm judicial activists disenfranchise the faithful Catholic voter.
• Catholic leaders have a duty to respect their constituents and their Church’s commitment to natural law tradition when considering judicial appointees.

Marriage and the Family
• Marriage was instituted prior to the state and should be recognized by the state as something inviolate and necessary to the common good.
• Prudential judgments about law and public policy should always seek to strengthen marriage and families.
• So-called same-sex marriages cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church, and civil unions are likely to undermine marriage and damage its foundational role in society.

• Parents—not the state—have the right to educate their children.
• Catholic parents have the right to have their children educated in a curriculum consonant with Catholic values.
• Governments should provide financial support to families for the education they desire for their children.

Economic Issues
• Work is a matter of human dignity and is necessary to the common good.
• Government should create the conditions that support business and industry development.
• Corporate responsibility is critical in helping to maintain economic success.

• Taxes should be fairly based upon one’s ability to pay.
• Tax policy should not penalize marriage or the raising of children.
• Corporate taxes should not threaten the capacity to create and sustain jobs.

• The preferential option for the poor requires that authorities first provide assistance to the poor and oppressed.
• The poor must have access to the education and job training necessary to compete in today’s job market.
• Strong families that remain intact keep their members from falling into poverty.

Health Care
• Health-care needs should be met by a combination of personal and corporate insurance, philanthropy, and government programs.
• Catholic health-care organizations must be free to perform their work with clear consciences.
• Abstinence and fidelity should be the foundation of sexually transmitted disease—education and prevention.

Religious Liberty
• Religious expression is a human right that should be recognized by the state.
• States that enforce secularism in social services and education are violating religious liberty.
• Political debate naturally involves religious concepts since law and public policy directly affect the common good.

• A nation should seek to accommodate the immigrant who, for just reasons, seeks greater access to the basic goods of life.
• Political leaders and citizens should recognize the reality of human interdependence that crosses all borders and all national identities.
• The immigrant is a person who deserves the same protection of law and social benefits afforded to citizens.

• From creation, human beings are given special responsibility as stewards of the earth.
• As part of its duty to the common good, the government should prevent unnecessary harm to natural resources.
• Government should also use creative and technological skill, in concert with global cooperation, to reverse existing environmental damage.

©Deal W. Hudson

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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