In about two months, Election Day will be upon us. Election season is always a difficult time for the Church. Politicians and dyed in the wool Democrats and Republicans are appealing to Catholic voters in order to support their causes. For a preacher who chooses to address how our faith impacts our duties as voters, treating this topic is like trying to navigate a minefield. But it is a minefield into which the pastors of the Church must enter because in a participatory democracy, how we exercise our political power has something very significant to do with how we recognize Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. And according to the 25th chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel, our recognition of Jesus in others will be very important on Judgment Day. For a believer, our deepest convictions about what is right and wrong, good and evil, must inform our political life. Otherwise, we are just playing make believe when we come to Mass. Let me make some things clear before I get started. Firstly, I am not in any way trying to express advocacy for a particular candidate or candidates. Ultimately, Christians have a citizenship in heaven and Christ's kingdom is not of this world. Very rarely is there a perfect candidate. I could care less how Democrats or Republicans or Libertarians or Greens do in the upcoming election. What is very important to me is that none of us exclude ourselves from Christ's Kingdom because of the way we vote in the earthly city. Secondly, when we go to the ballot box and vote in a way that is informed by our faith, it is not correct to say that we are somehow imposing our faith on others. This second point is of utmost importance. There are two different orders of knowledge for the believer: faith and reason. Faith, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." By means of faith God infuses in us the knowledge that is necessary to live a Christian life and be saved. It is a gift from God. While not being opposed to reason, faith is beyond reason. If we have true faith, we believe because we have the inner experience of God revealing Himself to us by the instrumentality of His Church. Since God knows all and always tells the truth, for those who have it, faith is the surest knowledge possible. Some things that we learn through faith could never be discovered through reason. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity can only be known through divine revelation. On the other hand, there many things that we know by faith that others can discover through the use of right reason. One does not have to have the Christian faith to know that murder, the taking of innocent human life, is always wrong. We know it to be true because the 5th commandment tells us so; others come to know this through the natural moral law. Much of what we believe through faith can also be discovered through reason. God reveals things to us that we could know through reason because he doesn't link salvation to intelligence. For instance, knowing that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong is very important to our eternal salvation. As Christians, we know it is wrong because it is against the 6th commandment. But, if we look around, there are many people who share this belief who do not recognize even the Old Testament as divine revelation. Through their use of reason, they have arrived at this conviction. What's the point of all of this, you ask? As Christians living in a democracy, we cannot seek to impose beliefs that can only be known by faith on others. In other words, we can't vote to force people to believe that Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, no matter how true this dogma is. But, we are under the gravest moral obligation to promote those moral truths that are capable of being known through human reason, even if we first came to know them through faith. A good place to start would be the inherent dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death, independent of whether or not it is convenient. There has been some confusion on this point recently in the press. It is never morally licit to vote for someone because they favor legal abortion or fetal stem cell research. This is just as true for an atheist as it is for a Catholic. As regards the Church's teaching, LET ME MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR, LEST THERE BE ANY MISUNDERSTANDING about what the Church teaches and has always thought about abortion. John Paul II's most solemn and definitive words from his encyclical letter _Evangelium Vitae_ should leave no confusion: By the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors…I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.…No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church. It is true that there were some theologians in the Middle Ages who were confused about when and how life actually began. Their speculations were tied to the question as to whether or not unbaptized babies went to Hell. The primary source of this confusion was a very imperfect knowledge of embryology. Even when theologians were confused on this point, they were unanimous that abortion is an unspeakable crime. Today, modern science confirms that at the moment of conception the human embryo is a human life because it has a complete set of human DNA. As I learned during my days of pro-life advocacy in college, intelligent pro-abortion advocates have long since abandoned the argument that a fetus is not human, that it is just a clump of cells. Rather, they try to separate embryonic human life from the class of human beings that have civil rights. Or even worse, they claim that unborn babies are unwanted invaders that can be ejected from their mother's wombs with lethal force. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, there have been over 50 million abortions in the United States. And we must remember that every abortion has at least two victims, the child and the mother who has been made to feel she has no choice but to take the life of her own child. For those victims of abortion of who are living and here with us today, know that God loves you more than you could ever imagine. And he wants to give you the peace that comes with knowing that you are loved and forgiven. As regards Catholics in public life who claim that abortion is an open question for Christians and defend this position by referencing theologians who had difficulty explaining when life begins because of bad science, they are engaging in an evasion. When asked when life begins, a question that one does not have to be a person of faith to answer, they seek cover in obscure passages from theologian long since dead. They may as well claim in discussions about military funding that we should cut funding for the Navy because many thought in the fifth century that the earth was flat. Catholics who speak this way not only insult the intelligence of any thinking person, they also place their souls in serious danger. Let us pray that before Judgment Day they will encounter God's mercy so that they will not have to answer for the all of the lives destroyed by their rhetoric of choice. My brothers and sisters in Christ, how we exercise our political power is very much a part of our relationship with God. Since many things that we believe as Catholics can also be known through human reason, we have the moral obligation to vote in a way that is consistent with these beliefs. And we can do so on every issue with the sure knowledge that we are not imposing our private beliefs on others.