Single-issue voting has corrupted Christian political witness. Readers respond.

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, celebrates Mass at St. Pius X Church in El Paso Sept. 23, 2019. The El Paso bishop tested positive Oct. 3, 2020, for the coronavirus disease and is in self quarantine. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso weighed in on Catholic voting and single-issue political strategies in an analysis published on America’s website that is sure to become recommended reading for voters of faith (“Bishop Seitz: Single-issue voting has corrupted Christian political witness”). He addresses society’s ills through the viewpoint of faith, not politics, and criticizes “single-issue political strategies disconnected from an integral ethic of human life.”

“Catholics who wish to take the demands of our faith and social teaching seriously have long had reason to feel politically homeless at election time,” the bishop writes. “Neither party and neither presidential candidate reflects in a consistent way the ethic of love and life expressed by Jesus in the Gospels.”

The article continues to generate feedback from our audience. The following in a sampling of online reader comments, edited for length and clarity.

This article should be required reading and discussion in all Catholic parishes, schools, colleges and universities, religious education programs and seminaries. It should be analyzed for its capacity for moral reasoning, how to apply Catholic social doctrine to the injustices that prevail, and to understand what goes into the intellectual formation of a bishop. Obviously, we need more like Bishop Seitz. Single-issue voting is another reason young people are leaving the church.

—Gabriel Marcella

As a pro-choice American Catholic, regarding a woman’s right to determine whether and how she prevents pregnancy and whether she carries a pregnancy to term, I just want to say this: In no way do I read Bishop Seitz as having endorsed or supported or turned a blind eye to my position. He is calling all Catholics, pro-choice Catholics included, to wake up every morning to recall [their faith] not only in mind but in practice. I, for one, am profoundly grateful for his trust that we are capable. He didn’t give anyone a pass here. He shared his faith and his hope.

—J. Jones

This is a brilliant article, naming many of the frustrations I faced as a single-issue conservative voter for decades. The complexity of our current politics makes a perfect decision in this election impossible. So we are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils, or pragmatically choosing our preferred red or blue while holding our nose, or maybe going third party (yet again). But we are called, at every moment, to do what love requires. This article will be a big part of my discernment for this election.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

—Paul Pfaffenburger

This is a very helpful guide as I struggle with my vote this year. I note that Bishop Seitz ends up saying that it is my decision and not making a blanket statement about a Catholic cannot vote for [fill in the blank] because of a single issue. This article is giving me some consolation and a direction for my prayer as I approach my vote when my mail-in ballot comes. May God grant us right judgment and holy wisdom!

—Daniel Leetch

Thank you for a nuanced view of our political problem of single-issue voting. One aspect of preventing abortion that is given little attention is understanding why women seek abortions. It is a decision based on both emotion and practical considerations. If we could find a way to teach about choosing wisely before pregnancy occurs, we would be doing good in the world. And such teaching would be far more subtle than “keep your legs together.” In the meantime, we need to consider the welfare of our government when we vote in this election. We are in a dangerous place.

—Lisa Weber

The issue of abortion is out of the hands of either the Democratic Party or Mr. Biden, should he be elected. The issue is in the hands of the Supreme Court. If the court decides not to overturn Roe v. Wade, the only way to change the law is by constitutional amendment or by packing the Supreme Court with justices who, contrary to judicial ethics, have committed to a decision before hearing the case.

—Arthur Menu

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