In a three minute and 43 second video made available to parishes and posted at www.archmil.org/Bishops/Listecki/Video-Files/faithful-citizenship.htm Monday, Oct. 15, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki encourages Catholics to “form your consciences according to the teachings of the church and pray for the wisdom to choose leaders that will reflect the dignity of all persons and promote the common good” as they prepare to vote Nov. 6.
In the video, shot at the Cousins Center on Wednesday, Oct. 10, the archbishop recalls Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan’s words about “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a document of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that Catholics should use the document because “there are moral issues of utmost importance that should be prayerfully considered before voting.”
Archbishop Listecki introduces his remarks by saying they present “fundamental issues – some that involve opposition to life itself are referred to as intrinsic evils and others that raise serious moral questions.”
Regarding the issues “of life itself,” the archbishop includes “the continuing destruction of unborn children through abortion and other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick or unwanted.”
Without specifically mentioning the mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services, Archbishop Listecki addresses religious freedom, saying “there are renewed efforts to force Catholic ministries – in health care, education and social services – to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need.”
He cautions about those who “are intensifying efforts to redefine marriage and enact measures which undermine marriage as the permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman and a fundamental moral and social institution essential to the common good.”
Paralleling topics addressed in “Faithful Citizenship,” Archbishop Listecki speaks about economic crisis, poverty, hunger, deficits and debt, “failure to repair a broken immigration system,” and wars, terror and violence.
The video is a result of a 90-minute meeting Archbishop Listecki had with Catholic leaders from eight pro-life organizations and two parishes in the archdiocese on Thursday, Oct. 4. Also attending the meeting were auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying, Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the archbishop, and Lydia LoCoco, director of the Nazareth Project, which promotes Respect Life efforts in the archdiocese.
Paul Chadwick, co-founder of Catholics4LIFE and one of the participants in the meeting, told your Catholic Herald that he found the archbishop to be “a very good listener.”
“He went around the room and asked each person for their ideas,” he said.
Chadwick, a member of St. Charles Parish, Hartland, said the group’s intention was to find out how they could help the archbishop get the message of “Faithful Citizenship” to people in the pews.
“We asked him, ‘Is there something we could do?’” he said.
LoCoco, who worked with Topczewski to arrange the meeting, concurred.
“The archbishop listened, listened, listened,” she said.
Terming the leaders who sought the meeting “respectful, prudent and prayerful,” LoCoco said the group felt “people in the pews needed leadership from the church” on the sanctity of life issues, the Health and Human Services mandate, and marriage being between one man and one woman.
“They wanted to know, ‘What can they do to support the archbishop? How can we help people be better educated (about the issues)?’” she said.
Chadwick noted that the archbishop asked the group, “What can I do to help you?”
The result was the video, which parishes have an option of playing in church on the Sundays prior to Election Day, if they so wish.
According to the archbishop, the matter of endorsing candidates was never discussed.
“They’re wise enough to understand that we can’t endorse candidates. … We’re issue oriented. A thoughtful Catholic will take a look at those issues and see whether or not the candidate aligns with support of those issues,” Archbishop Listecki said. “That’s the important thing for the Catholic to do. Look at the issues and judge a candidate according to those issues – whether they further those issues in keeping with Catholic teaching.”
Chadwick said that because the Catholic Church is classified as a 501(c)(3) entity by the IRS it has “to be very careful about getting into the political fray.”
He added, “You (the church) cannot endorse candidates, but the church has a right to endorse positions.”