Preparing for Nov. 6 not a cut-and-dry exercise

Most polls show that American voters have already made up their minds for which presidential candidate they will cast their vote on Nov. 6. Most pundits agree that President Obama and Governor Romney are arm-wrestling over a handful of undecideds out there. Probably true.

But there are also a host of other races — U.S. Senate and House, gubernatorial, state and local — and ballot initiatives from Hawaii to Puerto Rico that are on the ballots. There is a lot more at stake than the White House. Catholic voters have a lot to consider this fall.

In this month’s issue of The Catholic Answer, published by Our Sunday Visitor, veteran journalist Russell Shaw says in his cover story, “How Catholics Should Prepare to Vote,” that there are five key principles to help voters discern important matters before they step into the voting booth. Shaw, a keen observer of the American Catholic experience, bases his point not on the current passions of one group or another, but on church documents, especially “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a statement of the U.S. bishops meant to help Catholic voters.

Catholics have been participating in American political life since the beginning of the republic, and today there are some new challenges to consider. Shaw reminds us that voting remains an important responsibility of being a Catholic and a citizen, and his five principles help remind us how serious that responsibility is.

How do you discern how to cast your vote? How do you consider your faith at the ballot box?