Catholics, representing one-fourth of voters in Ohio, are an important constituency in this November’s election featuring two practicing Catholics running for vice president.
Vincent Miller, a religious studies professor at the University of Dayton, said Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan bring up different themes and issues that are important to Catholic voters.
“The overarching framework for thinking about politics for the Catholic church is the common good, and that is our shared responsibility for the good of everyone. So, that encompasses everything from protecting the unborn to taking care our elders to concern for the poor,” Miller said. “It’s a situation where each party is speaking to a particular part of that.”
Miller said that he thinks Catholics are torn on these issues and would like to find a candidate that can address all of them. Traditionally, the Republican Party focuses on life issues, while the Democratic Party focuses on the social safety net and finding a way to
He also said that from election to election, these issues “wax and wane,” depending on what seems to be the most relevant.
“Catholics are a very attractive swing-voter group because we are a sizable part of the population and we are fairly evenly split,” Miller said. “There’s a big chunk of political play in our vote, and so for that reason we are
Annie Blankenship, a junior education major, said she thinks Catholics need to keep their beliefs in mind when selecting
“I think the election calls us to think about our beliefs and to put them in the forefront,” Blankenship said. “You have to look at every issue in a different perspective and make sure that you feel confident in your heart about
Miller said that Catholics tend to vote based on their beliefs and on what issues are directly addressed by candidates. He said that voters need to review the church’s stance on issues being discussed when deciding on a candidate.
“I think the way Catholics vote in elections really depends upon what issues are in play, in addition to the many areas of moral concern they have,” he said. “The best way to approach the election is to go to the Bishops’ document of faithful citizenship because that lays out Catholic understandings of social conscious and prudence.”
Miller said the document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lists the issues Catholics should be concerned about.
Blankenship also said that Catholics should review these issues as well.
“I think they should keep practical reasoning and overall humility in mind,” she said. “We have a responsibility to help all of those in need by making sure that the person we vote for has a plan to give a voice to those who don’t have one.”
Miller said Catholics should be wary of candidates or others claiming that something is a “Catholic issue” and to keep in mind that regardless of different political decision, the Catholic community should come first.
“We are all united by our share concern for all of these issues,” Miller said. “There are two big temptations, to let ourselves be divided along partisan lines and to edit our commitments based on the party we belong to, and to allow those divisions to divide the church as well.”
Miller and Blankenship both said these temptations should not be acted upon, and that voters need to pay attention to the actions that candidates say they are going to take in regard to issues important to the church.
“I would advise people to ask themselves ‘What’s most in play now, what changes are going to happen?’,” Miller said. “And then to look at what each candidate is proposing to do, not just what they stand for, but specifically what they propose to do.”