The word "politics" makes most people cringe. But it’s impossible to avoid it. We hear about it in the news, on the radio, and probably a lot at family and social gatherings. As Catholic moms, staying in touch with the world around us can seem incredibly daunting and overwhelming. It takes enough of our energy and will power to spend a day refereeing and doing our best to provide for the well-being and happiness of our own families. After this, who wants to listen to a bunch of men and women in business suits bragging about themselves, mocking those who disagree with them, and constantly asking for more of our hard-earned money? It’s easier to just roll our eyes and turn the TV off or close the news browser.

As Catholics and as Americans we are called to do more than that. It’s easy to take our life, liberties, and happiness in this "land of the free" for granted. But politics is local and every policy or new law eventually affects us on all some level. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls Catholics to take political responsibility with Faithful Citizenship. Catholics; yes even us busy mothers, cannot become complacent. "In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation…The decisions we make as citizens about who leads us and what policies are enacted have important moral and ethical dimensions. The values of our faith should be our guide to public life."

Our government exists to serve the people and protect our rights as set forth in the founding principles but they can only represent us well when they know who we are and what is important to us. In the same way, it is also our duty to do what we can to understand the issues and get to know who our government leaders and candidates really are and what they honestly stand for. Usually each state’s website provides a list of all the current State legislatures and a list of incumbents and candidates up for State and National elections. The right to vote is a gift that we should take full advantage of and encourage others to do the same.

The USCCB offers various articles as a guide for American Catholics for understanding and addressing social and public life issues from a Catholic perspective. While Catholics are not obligated to agree with leaders of the Church on every detail of political debate, we have a responsibility to engage with them in dialogue and seek to understand how to apply our faith and Church teachings into the public square, especially as it applies to the protection of the life and dignity of every human being.

In his book, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, Denver’s Archbishop Charles J Chaput urges Catholics to "…find again the courage to be Catholic Christians first…Not in opposition to our country, but to serve its best ideals…All of us-has something important to add to the discussion of our nation’s future…From local school boards to congressional campaigns politics means taking public stands, throwing one’s lot with a standard bearer, and constantly risking being caught out as a hypocrite, a sucker, or a naïve minority of one…Our problems can only be solved by people of character who actively and without apology take their beliefs into public debates...Actively witness to and advancing what we believe to be true about key moral issues in public life is not ‘coercion’ It’s honestly. And it’s also a duty-not only of faith but of citizenship.

Copyright 2010 Erika Marie