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Voting with a well-formed Catholic conscience

Put your political party, your conservative/liberal leanings, your wallet and your self-interest on the back burner. And instead, vote with a well-formed Catholic conscience – which requires moving to the front burner of your mind and heart the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Catholic social teaching.

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In the Gospel our Lord is crystal clear that while he deeply desires what is best for each one of us, he especially teaches in his words and actions that the poor and vulnerable require his attention in a most special way – because their need is the greatest. And so likewise, our words and actions must imitate the Lord’s. We need to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. In fact, our very salvation hinges on this.

Near the end of Matthew’s account of the Gospel, Jesus proclaims with both hope and warning that he will judge each one of us according to how well we reached out, or failed to reach out, to those who were hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, imprisoned – essentially anyone and everyone who was in need (see: Matt. 25: 31-46).

Building on the rock-solid Gospel foundation of love for all people – even including enemies and especially the poor and vulnerable – a love for all of creation, and the call to be peacemakers, the Catholic Church in the last 125 years has developed a rich comprehensive body of in-depth teachings called Catholic social teaching which emphasizes care for creation, as well as the protection of all human life and the promotion of human dignity from womb to tomb. Here’s a link to an excellent and enjoyable introduction to Catholic social teaching

So, what does all of this have to with the elections? A lot!

Most unfortunately, very few politicians are committed to consistently enacting legislation and public policy which is Gospel and Catholic social teaching based. So, our difficult job, if we are to be faithful Catholic voters, is to carefully prayerfully examine which candidates’ positions are closest overall to the Gospel and Catholic social teaching – and vote for them.

It would be morally and politically ideal if we had politicians who were committed to protecting the lives and dignity of all – from conception to natural death – as well as the planet we all share. But we don’t. So, we need to choose politicians who will overall do the most good and the least harm. This is messy business.  However, at present this is the best moral approach we have.  

The U.S. bishops in their voters’ guide document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” write, “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.” (see:

Whether it’s abortion, war and peace, nuclear weapons, poverty, hunger, climate change, homelessness, immigration, unemployment, healthcare or COVID-19 the easy temptation is to pick candidates who line up with our one pet moral issue. But single- issue voting is both simplistically harmful and unfaithful to Catholic teaching (see:

We absolutely need to do our best in caring for all. For as St. Pope John Paul II said so beautifully: “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation.”

Comments from readers

PAUL SCHLACHTER - 10/24/2020 04:40 PM
If our elections were in the form of a referendum on a single issue, such as the premier issue as stated by the majority of our bishops, I am sure that all Catholics including Mr. Magliano would support it emphatically. The problem, the very disheartening blow, is that we must vote for a candidate rather than for the issue. And we have to trust that our chosen candidates will do what they promised to do, and not make things worse than they were before. In view of this, our prayers will be more effective than our vote.
Eleonora C. - 10/23/2020 07:36 PM
This is another terribly ambiguous, manipulative, and deceptive article coming out of the archdiocese promoting the seamless garment theory, equating abortion with climate change, and referring to pre-eminent issues as "pet" moral issues. Florida is a swing state and this type of nonsense coming from the archdiocese is unacceptable. Archbishop, countless of us are incredibly disheartened at the lack of leadership from the hierarchy and wishy washy voting guides.The current insistence from the archdiocese and other prominent leaders (such as the USCCB's FIFTY-THREE page convoluted voting guide and its vague insert, along with this very column) claiming that some issues are pre-eminent but that ALL issues are important and that we can vote for a non-negotiable provided that we do not do so to promote evil but for the other “good” policies the platform promotes, only serves to muddy the waters.No consciences are being formed by these voting guides but biases are being affirmed according to previously held beliefs. Lest anyone say that we shouldn't be single issue voters, religious freedom (and the very real possibility that our churches will be locked down again, as just happened in Santa Fe,and all of the ramifications and loss of income that a lockdown entails for families and parishes) is also on the ballot. There are moral issues at stake and our Church needs to take a firmer stand. The laity is exasperated. The only priests and leaders who are speaking clearly and are not backpedaling after they speak a difficult truth seem to be found on YouTube only. We absolutely need our local leadership to speak with transparency. (This pattern of searching for truth on the internet because it can't be found locally has the potential to polarize the laity. It's the reason people flock to SSPX. And who would dare say they are schismatic when our bishops insinuate that one can legitimately vote pro-choice and stay silent when the pope approves of same-sex unions?)
Theresa Kuehne - 10/23/2020 09:25 AM
I am terribly saddened that you have allowed the arch diocesan website to be used to promote the idea that the sanctity of life is a “pet issue”, as expressed in Tony Magliano’s article entitled “Voting With a Well Formed Catholic Conscience”. The Sanctity of life IS the premier issue, from whence all other rights and liberties flow. The murder of innocent lives throughout history, has served as a holocaust to the Father of lies, and we MUST make every effort to promote the will of God and his kingdom, NOW. Mr. Magliano’s article misses this integral point entirely and subtlety encourages Catholics to vote for Joe Biden who supports expanding the right to murder millions of unborn babies, personally celebrated a same sex wedding (as it’s officiator), vows to force Nuns to provide contraception and abortifacients in their insurance plans, and remains silent while Anarchist desecrate Catholic churches and statues. I pray you publish a retraction of this article immediately and speak truth to the people ADOM is called to shepherd.
Ezekiel Eussell - 10/22/2020 02:31 PM
Sir, life is the most important issue, if a person is not allowed to live, all other matters are irrelevant. Don't you think? Also, religious not doing in SELF DEFENSE!
Mike Periu - 10/22/2020 01:49 PM
Who is the webmaster here? it is entirely inappropriate to provide this on an official resource like the Archdiocese website. This is virtue signaling, not formation. Mr. Magliano is a columnist with National Catholic REPORTER, a publication that consistently and as part of its modus operandi DISSENTS aggressively from the Magisterium of the Church. Mr. Magliano labels himself as a "social justice and peace" columnist. Anyone that has any experience in Catholic circles knows what that actually means. Catholic Relief Services has had their reputation tainted by actions that run contrary to Church teaching as well. I cannot believe that the Archbishop approved this and it should be brought to his attention immediately. There are far better resources that are consistent with Church teaching available.
Frank - 10/22/2020 01:14 PM
I am certain that well intentioned people still vote Democrat. I post here NOT to judge anyone's motives but only objective actions and stated positions when compared to Catholic teaching. "Whether it’s abortion, war and peace, nuclear weapons, poverty, hunger, climate change, homelessness, immigration, unemployment, healthcare or COVID-19 the easy temptation is to pick candidates who line up with our one pet moral issue." So apparenlty the author considers the murder of millions of innocent children merely a "pet moral issue." This is telling to say the least. Should I congratulate the Archdiocese of Miami in equating of abortion with unrestricted immigration, homelessness and unemployment? Is abortion now "negotiable" in Catholic moral teaching or simply just a "pet" cause? Naturally, one would ask "How many people die of malnutrion vs abortion in this country?" Mr. Magliano, if you are going to suggest that the murder of millions through abortion is simply a "pet" issue then could the author provide some statistics? Meanwhile the Chairman of the Democratic Party said in 2017 that unrestricted abortion is a NON NEGOTIABLE if you are a democrat. Meaning you have to support abortion if you are a democrat. If your are Catholic you must oppose abortion, ergo.....§ion=politics Here is video of him admitting doubling down on unrestricted abortion which in his view is just as important as feeding the hungry. I submit that this position is not only irrational but contrary to Catholic teaching.
Araceli - 10/21/2020 09:35 PM
It is sad to realize the kind of reaction this article has triggered when the author is defending is the doctrine of the Church in the defense of life, which goes beyond abortion into many other areas related to life as God meant it to be. It may be good to recall Vatican II when it says in Gaudium et Spes : “[…] Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. […] Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator” (n. 27). More recent documents of Pope Francis are even more specific but it would take too much space to include them here. Are we so short sighted as to center our efforts only in fighting abortion, which by the way, is not imposed on any one? Are we so easily going to forget the many other policies that may be imposed on us, through which all the children that are born may not be able to continue living in a healthy way and with the dignity due to them? What about those that are separated from their parents because they are poor immigrants, or must grow in infamous conditions due to parents without work, or die because they lack medical insurance, or drink contaminated water, or be homeless because of more frequent hurricanes due to warmer temperatures, pollution and destruction of our environment? As Catholics,let us exercise our right to vote considering not one, but the many issues we face and also the character of our leaders and their capacity to advance the common good.
Pete G - 10/20/2020 08:34 PM
Mr. Magliano, your article is not aligned with Catholic teaching and it's a flat out manipulation of some Catholics that may confuse your words as true Catholic teachings since they read this on the official ADOM website. Planned Parenthood's 345,000 annual murders of our unborn brothers and sisters, and a Democrat party that supports it and supports legislation that expands abortion all the way to the day of birth is unacceptable. I suggest you view the recent homily Fr. Edward Meeks delivered at Christ the King parish in Towson, MD on 10/11/2020. Perhaps many will then understand how we must apply Catholic Teachings to this year's vote. Youtube link:.
CMontano - 10/20/2020 07:53 PM
It is shame how the Catholic Church is getting involved in the controversy of this election 2020. We have to Pray for America , for the Americans , the dignity and the union of the people. We can’t influence to vote for this or the other party. I am not agreeing with the Abortion, I am a Pro life; however, I haven’t heard that the Democrats are agreeing with the abortion matters. What is happening now in America takes me back to Cuba in my youth years that I could not think different because I got a lot of enemies . And the Church were controlled by the government. Let’s Pray for the best Candidate “God bless America “
Darlene Moppert - 10/20/2020 01:55 PM
I appreciate the content of this blog. Thank you. I believe a catholic must look at all the issues and make their voting decisions based on the totality of a candidate’s views. This election is about more than Rove v. Wade. The great commandment-“Love your neighbor as yourself”, Mark12:31, Matthew22:39, is also non-negotiable and must be given important consideration. I personally found Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Fratelli-tutti (October 1, 2020),, to provide guidance to equally important considerations. I am making a choice for someone I believe will manage the pandemic based on science, make decisions which will protect our planet so my grandchildren will have a healthy earth in which to raise their children, someone who recognizes that as the leader of the free world, we have a responsibility to promote world justice, someone who will treat democrats and republicans with equal respect and finally someone who will treat all people in this country with the dignity they deserve as human beings.
Andrew Meszaros - 10/20/2020 01:28 PM
Some try to discredit the pro-life stance by clever subterfuge, double-talk and deceptive nuance as if promoting the merchants of death and giving them millions was somehow excusable. Shame on the ADOM for pushing this pro-choice narrative.
Rene Cruz - 10/19/2020 09:25 PM
This is an outrageous article that bears no semblance of the Catholic faith, NO ONE who values life would vote for a prochoice candidate, ask yourself what would Jesus do? Take his children to the slaughter? I am ashamed that I even have to make this comment, ADOM you need to reflect on the true purpose of this article and why you could not above all else defend the prolife conviction. What an utter disappointment and i will pray for leadership that actually leads and serves God AND his children especially the most vulnerable-the unborn.
Paul Nichols - 10/19/2020 09:10 PM
To those who say that abortion is "not negotiable", I agree. But the Democratic candidate has never put anyone to death or caused an abortion. He is not responsible for Roe v Wade. The Republican candidate, on the other hand, reinstated Federal capital punishment and permitted the killing of other human beings. So who is Pro-Life? And let's not get into character, the poor, the immigrant, the different (as Pope Francis speaks in Fratelli Tutti about our LGBTQ siblings.) I can only ask, who would Jesus vote for? I have my opinion, consider yours. Paul Nichols
Marisol - 10/19/2020 08:12 PM
Tony, I pray you are able to see your heart as the Lord sees it for you remind me of the Pharisees that attempted to trap Jesus in yesterday’s Gospel, Matthew 22:15-21. Just as the Lord saw through their wickedness, He sees through yours as you attempt to manipulate the truth of His word to fit your political narrative of death. Social assistant programs for the poor and less fortunate are integral tenets of our faith but brother how are these of any benefit when we do not respect life nor allow life to begin? Quite frankly, I see you. I see what you’re doing. You are attacking the very fiber of our faith from within. I pray for your conversion and for the many others who have fallen to your forked tongue.
Tammy - 10/19/2020 05:21 PM
Sir, Life is above all issues. From womb to tomb. You are confusing Catholics and this is very grievous. How many Catholics do you think will vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is NONE. If you understand your faith, as a Catholic you could not possibly vote for a pro-choice candidate. Abortion is the one greatest evil affecting our world and there is NO WAY a Catholic can rationalize or negotiate a pro-choice vote. TRUTH
SUSAN O'NEILL - 10/19/2020 05:14 PM
Thank you Tony. This is not a popular truth in Catholic media circles - but a valid one. My well formed Catholic conscience tells me that an good end is not justified by an evil means. Character matters.
Carlos - 10/19/2020 04:28 PM
Thank you Mr. Magliano and ADOM for so beautifully expressing Catholic Church teaching - this is what we need now more than ever; rather than non-stop political rhetoric! Bravo! God bless.
Jacqueline - 10/19/2020 01:08 PM
The statement by Antonio Fernandez is not a fact, but rather an obfuscation of the truth; “It is a fact that the Democrat candidate for the presidency will not rescind Roe v. Wade; however it is also a fact that the current President in his almost four years in the WH has done nothing to rescind it already. Abortion was not addressed by the Republicans will not be changed by the Democrats.” The truth is that Republicans addressed the issue of abortion during the most prolife RNC ever. Also: when they voted for the Born Alive Act in the Senate while Democrats voted it down; when they confirmed over 200 judges nominated by President Trump to the federal courts and are on the way to confirm the third Supreme Court justice also nominated by President Trump (if you don’t know how important that is for the prolife cause, then you don’t know anything about the issue and should not opine on it.) President Trump is leading the most prolife efforts ever undertaken by an administration. He set up a prolife advisory committee and for the first time in recent history, prolife leaders have been given access to the White House. On the other hand, “Joe Biden calls abortion a “constitutional right,” and promises to reverse all of President Trump’s pro-life policies, including the expanded Mexico City Policy and the Protect Life Rule. He also promises to federally fund Planned Parenthood using Medicaid and Title X dollars. He told attendees of a June 2019 Planned Parenthood Forum that he would codify Roe vs. Wade–embedding abortion in our nation’s laws.“ The right to be born is the most intrinsic human right of all. Joe Biden has promised to deny that right to the most vulnerable citizens of his country and wants your vote and money to do it. The only thing standing in his way IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To use the Gospel as a tool to excuse Catholics to vote for him is inexcusable.
Antonio Fernandez - 10/19/2020 12:14 PM
I want to express my full support to Tony Magliano commentary regarding the need for us Catholics to vote with a well-formed conscience. Let me quote his opening requirement: “Put your political party, your conservative/liberal leanings, your wallet and your self-interest on the back burner.” Unless we honestly can do this, we will find difficulties accepting his words... but even worst we will not be able to accept the social teachings of the Catholic Church and eventually we will reject the words of Christ. There is nothing confusing nor misleading. What is inaceptable for any one is to say that he/she is pro life just because they oppose the abortion of the unborn. Mr. Magliano is actually broadening our concerns as Catholics, for the protection of life from the moment of conception until natural death. It is a fact that the Democrat candidate for the presidency will not rescind Roe v. Wade; however it is also a fact that the current President in his almost four years in the WH has done nothing to rescind it already. Abortion was not addressed by the Republicans will not be changed by the Democrats. It has been ignored by both parties. However, there are many other violations against human life that we as voters should not ignore or put aside: death penalty, xenophobia, discrimination, separation of families, the care and protection of our environment... etc. Antonio Fernández
Gustavo - 10/19/2020 12:01 PM
Sadly the ADOM and Mr. Magliano subscribe to the “seamless garment “ a philosophy that holds issues such as abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, social injustice, and economic injustice all demand a consistent application of moral principles that value the sacredness of human life. This philosophy was invented by a Satanist cardinal back in the 1979s Catholics should research this topic. —Pax Christi
Belkys Cordova - 10/19/2020 11:40 AM
PLEASE, PLEASE, stop beating around the bush. Stop giving pro abortionist a way out, or a clear conscience. Abortion is not negotiable. Very disappointed with these last minute attempt to talk out of both sides of the mouth. Shame on you and ADOM
HECTOR GONZALEZ - 10/19/2020 11:16 AM
Unfortunately at the present situation we have to make a choice between a person who is not qualified to fulfill his role and duty as President of Usa and a more experienced American, more capable of Prudence, Wisdom and Knowledge. Not only for the sake of the Usa Peace and Prosperity but also for the rest of the World's harmony. We need a smart President as a very and real sign of greatness.
Valli Leone - 10/19/2020 10:35 AM
Thank you for the TRUTH about the ENTIRETY of our Catholic Social Teaching. We all hate abortion and are pro-life, yet we know better than to trust in princes of this world to end the horror of abortion. We are not only pro-birth, but pro ALL of life. I find it difficult to understand why so many Catholics vote as if a party or a political promise will actually deliver a holy verdict. Have we not seen, heard and understood the insincere ploys used simply to gain votes? We are all in this together – – one day at a time, one step at a time, one truth at a time, as we learn to love the Lord our God and one another better and more day by day. Jesus alone never fails! Help us, Holy Spirit! ✝️🔆💜
Beatriz Bezos - 10/19/2020 10:22 AM
Quite a disappointment that such an article was posted using a single viewpoint. With all due respect, there were a number of half truths and misleading statements in the article that would confuse a Catholic trying to make a conscientious decision. I also ask all readers to seek the sermons of Fr James Altman in YouTube. Continue to pray for the integrity of the elections. I invite all to join EWTN every morning after the 8am mass, as we pray the rosary and also pray for a blessed election.
Janet McCauley - 10/19/2020 10:02 AM
I am so disappointed and outraged that this article was posted on the Arch Diocese’s website. It is a continuation of confusing and misleading information for the laity. The writer bought in to the disingenuous claim that pro life people do not care about other social issues or other stages of life. It falsely stated that a voter can ignore a policy that is intrinsically evil, abortion. We cannot. We, also, cannot support a political party that denied God three times at one of their conventions, that supports a Marxist based organization like BLM (read their mission statement), that is silent on acts of anarchy and violence, that supports defunding the police as in Democrat cities like Seattle and Minneapolis. The Democrat party is no longer a party that genuinely represents social issues. It now openly embraces Socialism which has been deemed evil and contrary to religious freedom by the last 10 popes with the exception of Pope Francis. I urge you to seek the inspired sermons of Father James Altman, a courageous priest not afraid to preach the truth. Search him on YouTube.
Lisa P - 10/19/2020 09:43 AM
Mr. Magliano, with all due respect, to place the issue of a legal structure that permits the massive killing of innocent life next to all the issues that require our Catholic response does a disservice to the distinction made in our Catholic teaching in Evangelium Vitae (Pope St. John Paul II). I invite the readers to please refer to paragraphs 57 & 58 and beyond: "... the absolute and grave moral illicitness of the direct taking of innocent human life, especially at its beginning and end." ... Regarding single-issue voters: Thank God that in 1860 there were a lot of single-issue voters -- voters who saw the moral evil of slavery as important enough to cast a vote on that single issue.
Miriam Roman - 10/19/2020 09:42 AM
Buena enseñanza, Gracias
Pat Peters - 10/19/2020 09:17 AM
This is a Book I thought you might find interesting - Written by a Christian author on the Power of Lies. History is important and remembering how Powerful lies can be. Even in Nazi Germany, there was a period of time that Priests and Pastures were supportive of the Nazi Party, until they realized what was happening. Political decisions have to be very carefully made and not looked at in isolation. Pro-life is the protection of the unborn, but it is also the protection of seniors and disabled and protection of immigrants. There is no political party that follows all the beliefs I have as a Christian and it takes looking at which person could do the most harm to the most people. Who maintains our Democracy? I am not a Republican or Democrat and I often will split my ticket depending on the individual.. This year is a great concern on the Future of America and Lies matter. Read “How do you Kill 11 million “ By Andy Andrews

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