6.21 Can I join politics? Must I vote? How can I decide whom to vote for? Are Christians better politicians?
As Christians we are members of society too. We should participate in the life of society, also through politics and thus let our point of view be heard. This we can do first of all through the way we vote. Even if none of the candidates takes a fully acceptable stance from a Christian viewpoint, voting can make a difference in the way the country is run. What we are looking for is the common good, the good of ‘all of us’.
Some Christians are called to join politics themselves. Christian politicians should at all times intend to act in accordance with their conscience, placing the good of others above that of themselves. There is a great need for such politicians, and they need the support and prayer of all the Christian community to keep their moral high ground.
In what way do Christians participate in political and social life?
The lay faithful take part directly in political and social life by animating temporal realities with a Christian spirit and collaborating with all as authentic witnesses of the Gospel and agents of peace and justice [CCCC 410].
When is authority exercised in a legitimate way?
Authority is exercised legitimately when it acts for the common good and employs morally licit means to attain it. Therefore, political regimes must be determined by the free decision of their citizens. They should respect the principle of the “rule of law” in which the law, and not the arbitrary will of some, is sovereign. Unjust laws and measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience [CCCC 410].
How does one participate in bringing about the common good?
All men and women according to the place and role that they occupy participate in promoting the common good by respecting just laws and taking charge of the areas for which they have personal responsibility such as the care of their own family and the commitment to their own work. Citizens also should take an active part in public life as far as possible [CCCC 410].
To take politics seriously at its different levels - local, regional, national and worldwide - is to affirm the duty of man, of every man, to recognise the concrete reality and the value of the freedom of choice that is offered to him to seek to bring about both the good of the city and of the nation and of mankind. Politics are a demanding manner – but not the only one – of living the Christian commitment to the service of others… While recognising the autonomy of the reality of politics, Christians who are invited to take up political activity should try to make their choices consistent with the Gospel [Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 46].