Faithful Citizenship


American politics have become quite rancorous in recent years and the 2024 election season is shaping up to be another time of deep divisions among parties and candidates. People on all sides will admit that the atmosphere has become toxic, but most of us feel helpless to improve it. There are significant challenges for Catholics in this setting and I would like to take some time this summer to comment on some of those challenges. In doing so, I will draw upon the insights of the document Faithful Citizenship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. That document, and many other resources, are available at

The US legal code prohibits religious organizations and churches from endorsing and/or opposing candidates for office. The assertion of this authority is linked to the tax-exempt status granted to churches by the IRS. This law, and the American tradition of the separation between church and state lead some observers to claim that religious people should not be weighing in on political matters at all. There are others who deny the authority of the government to place any limit on the proclamation of the gospel and cite that same tradition of separation.
I pledge to you that I will not endorse or denounce any candidate for office in this or any election. Nor would I tolerate such endorsements from institutions, clergy, or representatives of the Diocese of Providence. While I respect the law of the land, my pledge is fundamentally motivated by Catholic teaching in this regard. Over centuries of experience and reflection, the Church has gradually drawn distinctions between the proper role of the clergy in the governance of the Church’s own life, and the role of the laity in seeking justice, exercising leadership, and witnessing to the gospel in everyday life.
Even as we acknowledge the proper distinction between the roles of clergy and laity, it is also important to assert that the legal prohibition against endorsement of candidates does not prohibit the Church or people of faith from participating in the political process. It is one of the great gifts of the American tradition that all citizens have the right to advocate for their opinions and ideas. Without endorsing particular candidates, clergy and the lay faithful often enter the fray with our own ancient teachings and commitment to the common good. In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis reminded all Catholics of our shared commitment to the truth and our sacred duty to uphold the sanctity of human life, the dignity of persons, and the call to compassion for the suffering. The Holy Father asserted that these commitments might be born from our faith but that they are truths discernible even to those of different traditions or even no faith. In effect, we have more than the freedom to take part in the political process, we have the duty to do so.
While I do not wish to tell you how to vote, I do urge you fervently to vote. And I urge you to carry the wisdom and compassion of your Catholic faith with you into the voting booth. Such is not a violation of American tradition or law, but the best thing that you can do in an election. If you take that sacred obligation seriously, I also urge you to utilize Faithful Citizenship and its other resources to prepare yourself for the election. They will help you to form your conscience and to understand the joy and the demands of the gospel. Make sure to vote, and do not forget to pray before voting, invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the decisions that you will make. Be a faithful citizen and help make a better nation!