Voting as a Catholic Citizen
by Most Rev. David D. Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck
“Our votes as Catholic citizens have to focus on who and what protects human life and dignity and therefore, who will strengthen and advance the common good of us all. Take your well-formed Catholic conscience into the voting booth and then vote.” – Bishop David Kagan, Diocese of Bismarck
Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
You may recall that four years ago in October, 2012, I wrote to you about the right and privilege we have as citizens to vote. I write again in this “Year of Mercy” that each Catholic citizen has that privilege and duty to participate in our Nation’s governing by the exercise of our constitutional right to vote in national, state and local elections. As your Bishop I urge you again to exercise this cherished right.
I will not tell you for whom you should vote nor will I tell you for whom I intend to vote. However, I ask you to vote as a Catholic citizen who has properly formed his or her conscience. A properly formed Catholic conscience does not contradict the defined truths of our Catholic Faith in matters of faith and morals. I wish to explain what this means in relation to the issues on which your votes will have a lasting impact.
What is “a properly formed Catholic conscience?” The Catechism says: “A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience” (1798). The Catholic Church’s teachings are the means for us to properly form our consciences so that we seek always what is objectively true and good.
At the heart of all Catholic moral and social teaching is a single fact: the respect given to an individual human person must always be first and must govern every law and action so that the person’s life and dignity is always and everywhere protected and defended. In other words, from the first moment of human conception to the last moment of life on earth, the person must be respected without exception.
For the reason, there are some actions that are never acceptable and should not be made so by law, they include: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and not recognizing the unique and special role of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
All the other social, economic, and political issues only gain importance from the fundamental issue of the respect for the individual person and the inviolability of each person’s life and God-given dignity.
If there is no respect for the life and dignity of each person from conception to natural death, then every other moral and social evil can be justified. There are some things we must never do as individuals or as a society because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life as in abortion and euthanasia.
In this election year the positions of the major political parties and their candidates are well known and advertised. What I ask each of you to do before you vote is to consider carefully what our Catholic Church teaches about the issues, and then consider how your vote for a particular candidate will contribute to the common good of us all as persons with that human dignity which must be respected and protected in all circumstances.
Ours is a representative form of government and those whom we elect therefore are supposed to represent us. When you vote, please, I ask you to vote for the candidates who represent you as Catholic citizens. This is easily discovered by reading the public statements and votes and observing the actions of the candidates. Our votes as Catholic citizens have to focus on who and what protects human life and dignity and therefore, who will strengthen and advance the common good of us all. Take your well-formed Catholic conscience into the voting booth and then vote.
I close with a timeless quote from Saint John Paul II. He wrote: “The common outcry which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination” (Christifideles Laici, 38).
May our Good God bless and guide us at this important moment and may Our Blessed Mother continue to intercede for us!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend David D. Kagan
Bishop of Bismarck
Environmental stewardship is central to the moral roots of our faith. Care for God’s creation is the responsibility of all human beings as outlined by our Holy Father in his encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home.”
A change of heart that Pope Francis is asking of us will be a chance to witness our faith and begin to reverse the tide of global destruction. We have an extraordinary opportunity to drive this change from our energy resource-rich state. Everyone’s actions matter from in-home recycling to advocating for responsible harvesting of natural resources in our state’s coalmines and oil fields.
Pope Francis is calling for radical change to our “throwaway culture.” In his document, he challenges each of us do our part to preserve God’s gifts for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.
All of what Pope Francis is saying is premised on the unique and inviolable dignity of the person to whom God has entrusted the care of His creation; and all of creation is a gift from God to us not to be abused, but to be used in such a way that it helps us save our souls and the souls of others.
Let us prayerfully respond to Pope Francis’ plea for a change of hearts and call to action.
Bishop David Kagan of the Bismarck Catholic Diocese thanked everyone in attendance for their “support for the cause of life.”
Kagan said with the passage of the abortion laws, “North Dakota is second to no other state in our nation” in valuing of all human life from conception to death.
Kagan chose to end his remarks with a 2005 quote by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Christopher Dodson, director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, echoed much of what Pavone told the crowd.
“This is the future of North Dakota, the future of our country,” Dodson said. “It’s a violent act (abortion); a sign that we have failed as a society. We can do better.”
Dodson said he had one thing to say to pro-choice individuals who argue that the abortion laws “turn back the clock” in North Dakota.
“That clock was broke 40 years ago,” Dodson said, in reference to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Read the full story . . .
Effective July 18, 2012, as approved by Pope Benedict XVI, the Most Rev. David Kagan, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, has been named apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Fargo due to the appointment of the Most Rev. Samuel Aquila as archbishop of the Denver Archdiocese.
In a statement concerning his interim appointment, Bishop Kagan said, “It is a sign of the high regard which our Holy Father has for the Catholic faithful of the Diocese of Fargo, and for all that has been accomplished by Archbishop Aquila with the good cooperation of the clergy, religious and laity, that he has made this provision for the diocese in this time of transition and growth.”
During any “sede vacante” (vacant see), the period of time between bishops, one of two scenarios takes place. Either the pope appoints an apostolic administrator, as he did with the appointment of Bishop Kagan, or a “College of Consultors,” a committee made up of diocesan priests, elects a priest as administrator to lead a diocese until a permanent bishop is named.
The apostolic nuncio – the pope’s representative and ambassador in the United States – along with the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops will begin the search for Fargo’s new bishop and present their thoughts directly to the Holy Father, who makes the final determination. The process typically takes between eight months to a year or more.
During this interim time, Bishop Kagan has been entrusted with the authority of the diocesan bishop to teach, sanctify and lead Catholics residing within Eastern North Dakota.
Bishop Kagan was appointed to be the seventh bishop of the Bismarck Diocese on October 19, 2011, and was ordained and installed as its bishop on November 30, 2011. Prior to arriving in Bismarck, he had served in numerous pastoral capacities, including 17 years as Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Rockford, Ill.
The Catholic faith teaches that bishops serve as successors to the 12 apostles who were called and ordained to this ministry by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. They serve as shepherds of the flock, and – like the apostles – have a special call to teach, govern, and sanctify, or make holy through prayer and sacrifice. The bishop is pastor of his diocese and maintains unity with the Holy Father, thus playing the indispensable role of unifying the various churches in the one Universal Church.
The Rev. Thomas E. Kramer, pastor at Bismarck’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit for 32 years, died at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Alexius Medical Center. He was 79.
Receptions throughout the Diocese of Bismarck will be held for outgoing Bishop Paul Zipfel, beginning November 3, 2011. The receptions, which are open to the public, will consist of a prayer service, at 7:30 p.m. local time with a reception from 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. to follow.
The first reception is scheduled for the Church of St. Joseph in Williston on Thursday, November 3rd. The second reception will be Friday, November 4th at the Church of Ascension in Bismarck. Monday, November 7th, the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Minot will host the third reception and the fourth is scheduled for the Church of St. Bernard in Belfield for Tuesday, November 8th.
Bishop Zipfel was appointed Bishop of Bismarck December 31, 1996 by Pope John Paul II and installed as Bishop in February 1997. The round of receptions will provide an opportunity for not only the Catholic faithful in the diocese, but also the general public to thank Bishop Zipfel for his years of service to the diocese.
Msgr. David Kagan, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, was appointed Bishop Zipfel’s successor on October 15, 2011, and will be installed as Bishop of Bismarck on November 30, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of The Holy Spirit in Bismarck.
Information on the receptions will also be available in local Catholic parishes throughout the diocese.