Over these last few weeks the airwaves of Rhode Island have been bombarded with negative advertisements from candidates. It is a recipe for cynicism and apathy among the eligible voting public.
Despite the civic emptiness of many citizens, stands the call to civic duty and responsibility on the part of all Rhode Islanders. As the bishops of the United States have reminded the faithful, “in the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.”
On Nov. 2, the United States will once again exercise the greatness of her civic virtue as millions of Americans enter polling places in a free and democratic election. Here in Rhode Island, there are candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, the governor and general officers of the state, members of the state general assembly along with a host of local officials of the 39 cities and towns that are the subjects of the voting public. Therefore, every citizen of Rhode Island must defeat the cynicism that can destroy civic duty and the apathy that can attack the obligations of citizenship. This is especially true of Rhode Island’s large Catholic community who play an important part of the election of any candidate in the state.
The Catholic community of Rhode Island is large and diverse. It comprises every race and ethnic background and includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It crosses the state from the rural to the urban and includes all socio-economic classes from business executives to the working poor. However, each member of the Catholic community shares the same common commitment to protect the sanctity of human life and support the common good by standing with those who are poor, vulnerable and unprotected.
We encourage all citizens, especially Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an meaningful opportunity to participate in building a culture of life. Each and every voice matters on Election Day. Every vote counts on Election Day. As Catholics we are called to cast votes that defend human life, especially those of God's children who are unborn, disabled and vulnerable. We urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, to cast off the negative advertising and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest. On Nov. 2, the Catholic community of Rhode Island must not only defeat the cynicism and apathy of too many voters by simply voting, but vote responsibly and faithfully in building up a culture of life.