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October 20, 2020

Faithful Citizenship: Moral and Political Choices for Catholics in the 2020 Election

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Two weeks before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the Initiative brought together respected leaders with diverse perspectives to examine the moral and political choices Catholics are facing in the midst of a global pandemic, economic crisis, racial reckoning, and hard-fought campaign.

Catholic voters are widely seen as a crucial constituency in this November’s election. The Catholic community is large, diverse, and found in key states which could decide who is elected president. Catholic voters are not a monolith. They differ by race and ethnicity, party and ideology, and Catholics for Trump and Catholics for Biden are making competing appeals. We have heard “You cannot be Catholic and a Democrat” and “Catholics cannot be true to their faith and vote for Donald Trump.”

Among the questions panelists discussed were:

  • What is going on with U.S. Catholic voters? In different parts of the Catholic community? How might Catholics be decisive voters in the 2020 presidential election?
  • How are President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden and their campaigns reaching out to Catholic voters? With what impact?
  • What are Catholics called to do in this election? Is abortion the “pre-eminent priority” as the U.S. bishops wrote? Should candidates’ “commitments, character, integrity” be critical as suggested in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship?
  • Using the principles of Faithful Citizenship, why would Catholic voters vote for Trump over Biden? Vote for Biden over Trump?
  • What are the implications for the Church and for the nation regarding the roles of Catholics in this election?

Kim Daniels, associate director of the Initiative, moderated the conversation.

Resources

View a list of articles, websites, and other resources for this dialogue.

This Public Dialogue was part of the Initiative’s Faith and the Faithful series. It was co-sponsored by Georgetown's Institute of Politics and Public Service and was supported by the Democracy Fund.

Participants

Karina De Avila

Karina De Avila

Karina De Avila is a leader for immigrant rights and the vice president for the Young Democrats of Will County, Illinois. She is the former immigrant support program coordinator for Joliet Catholic Charities, on the board of her children’s Catholic school, and a founding member of the Latinx Catholic Leadership Coalition.

John Carr

John Carr

John Carr is the founder and director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown. He served for more than two decades as director of Justice, Peace, and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He wrote the Washington Front column and a recent essay on Faithful Citizenship for America Media.

Mary FioRito

Mary FioRito

Mary FioRito is the Cardinal Francis George Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is an attorney, public speaker, and commentator on issues involving the Catholic Church. She was the director of pro-life activities for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and the first female vice-chancellor for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Emma Green

Emma Green

Emma Green (C‘12) is a staff writer at the ​Atlantic, where she covers politics, policy, and religion. She is a 2012 graduate of Georgetown University, has won numerous journalism awards, and is the 2020 Laureate of the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Journalism, Arts & Letters from America Media and the Thomas More Center at Yale.