Catholic-Americans who would like to bring their Catholic tradition to the upcoming process of electing our next President of the United States should consider asking questions which reasonably flow from Catholic Social Teachings, particularly in light of Pope Francis’ recent contributions to Catholic Social Teaching.
At the very least, by requiring candidates to answer fundamental questions based on Catholic Social Teachings, it will provide an opportunity to jettison “politics as usual” and allow us to get a glimpse of how those seeking the highest office in the land think about fundamental principles and issues.
Although some of the questions implicate the most central and fundamental Catholic teachings (e.g., protecting the unborn despite the legal parameters established by Roe v. Wade), other questions leave some room for reasonable discussion and perhaps even some disagreement among reasonable Catholics.
Thus, ever mindful of the overriding centrality of our duty to the poor, Catholics would do well to consider requiring Presidential candidates to address one or more of the following questions based on Catholic Social Teaching.
1. What is your understanding of the human person and how will that understanding affect your day to day decision-making as President of the United States?
2. What is your view of the Catholic understanding of natural law as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
3. What is your understanding of the Catholic Social Teaching approach to the Common Good and describe how your understanding of the Common Good might affect the Executive approach of your Presidency?
4. What is your general view of the Catholic Church’s rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment; and please include in your response an assessment of how the Free Exercise Clause should be construed regarding Catholic Institutions such as Catholic hospitals, Catholic healthcare facilities, Catholic Universities, and Catholic Social Services organizations?
5. What is your view of the concept of the separation of the church and the state?
6. What is your understanding of the Catholic Principle of Subsidiarity and describe how this principle might or might not affect the Executive Branch of Government under your Presidency?
7. What is your understanding of the related Catholic Principle of Solidarity and describe how this principle might or might not affect the Executive Branch of Government under your Presidency?
8. What do you believe is the most just and fair approach to immigration in the United States?
9. What is your view on the extent to which Congress can pass legislation which provides legal protection for the human fetus consistent with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision?
10. What is your view of the relationship between humanity and the created/physical world, and how will your view of the human person’s relation to the created/physical world affect the policies of your Administration? [In your answer, it will be helpful for you to make some reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si and/or his addresses to the United Nations and Congress during his 2015 Apostolic Visit to the United States].
Although the Candidates may or may not be familiar with all of the principles highlighted in these questions, Catholic-Americans who seek to fulfill their civic duty with all of the wisdom, reason and truth that our Catholic worldview brings to this process would do well to require our Presidential candidates to answer one or more of them. If nothing else, exploring these questions and principles in a genuine and reasonable manner might prove more helpful than harmful to the political process in which we all find ourselves in the upcoming Presidential election.