Yesterday I had the privilege of being apart of a discussion with Professor Mary Margaret Smith (Political Science), sponsored by the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity at St. Catherine University , about issues of voting, faith and the role of the Catholic Church in politics. The discussion was moderated by Professor Bill McDonough from the Theology Department and Sister Amata Miller, Economics Professor and Director of the Myser Initiative. The book that prompted this conversation, Voting and Holiness, edited by Nicholas Cafardi, offered rich arguments and historical points from different authors on what it means to be holy in something as earthly as voting. The main point from the book that stuck with me was Cafardi’s piece about informed conscience, and our own individual responsibility in developing that base for our decisions with voting. On page 22 he writes, “Our sacred pastors can tell us the ethical and moral principles that should govern human behavior; they can tell us the values that should be defended; and we must learn from them on these matters in order to inform our own consciences. We also have an obligation to look at Scripture, the teachings and traditions of the Church, the people of God, over the centuries. And we need to pray, to ask the Spirit for guidance….But once your conscience is properly formed, then I would paraphrase St. Augustine…’Love and vote how you will.'”
When I see campaign commercials and read editorials in the Star Tribune and in the National Catholic Reporter, it causes me to reflect on what it means to be a Catholic in this election and in Minnesota. Reading and thinking about Cafardi’s piece on informed conscience, and the idea that individual voting in thoughful way is more important than uniform agreement among all Catholics, has allowed me to feel peace this election season as I consider my choices. More than anything else, though, when I vote next Tuesday, I will remember Jesus’ advice on being holy: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-32).
Curt Brown’s articles in the Star Tribune and events commemorating the anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 have led me to reflect on that horrific time in Minnesota history, as well as the current challenges facing Indian Country. In light of the fact that the Dakota people (and other Native peoples), have not received apologies or reparations for the severe injustices inflicted over the years, how do we move forward? Is that even possible without genuine apology? What is our responsibility, as a state and country, 150 years after this tragedy? When I read the news, I see articles like this one from NPR, this piece on violence in Indian Country, or this Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. How do we reconcile and honor the past, while working for justice for Native people today?
While I have been thinking about the serious issues facing these communities, it is encouraging to remember local organizations that partner with our Working and Task Groups. The Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group has partnered in the past with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, while the Native American Awareness Task Group has joined with the Tiwahe Foundation on projects. Organizations such as these two, known first hand to the CSJ Community, make it possible to remain hopeful, despite all the challenges.
-Mary Pederson, Program Assistant, CSJ Justice Office
Thursday, October 11, 6:30 p.m. ~ 11th Day Prayer for Peace
Seeing Change Through Redemption: Recognizing people who have been harmed, those who have harmed and those who are advocates and supporters.
Location: The Chapel of Our Lady of the Presentation, 1890 Randolph Avenue, Saint Paul For more information: Joänne Tromiczak-Neid, 651.690.7070
Presented by: The Criminal Justice Working Group of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates
Worldwide Progress Toward Ending the Death Penalty Spearheaded by the Worldwide Coalition Against the Death Penalty, composed of nearly 140 organizations worldwide, this year is particularly important as it marks the World Coaltion’s 10th Anniversary. Hear John Getsinger describe progress to end the death penalty worldwide. WHEN: Wednesday, October 10, 12:00 – 1:00 WHERE: Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, LLP at 800 LaSalle Avenue, 2800 LaSalle Plaza, Minneapolis, MN. For more information: The Advocates for Human Rights