“Frequently Asked Questions About Political Activity Guidelines for Catholic Entities” can be found here.
Both Democrats and Republicans use the Primary Election to designate who their party delegates will support at the national conventions and who will face off in statewide contests in November. This year, voters cast ballots for President of the United States, U.S. Senator, Congressional Representatives, Pennsylvania Attorney General, Auditor General and Treasurer, one half of the Pennsylvania Senate and all of the House of Representatives.
The men and women who occupy these offices have a great deal of influence over our future; but what exactly do they do and why should Catholics care?
Let’s look a few offices:
President of the United States
Most Americans recognize the president as someone important, but we may not realize how his decisions affect our daily lives.
The president is the head of state and commander in chief, but he is also responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws passed by Congress. He appoints a cabinet to run the agencies that make this happen and has the authority to issue executive orders that clarify or further existing laws.
Executive orders and government agency regulations tell us what we have to do to comply with the laws. For example, the law says Americans must pay federal income taxes; regulations say they are due by April 15.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
The attorney general is Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer responsible for prosecuting organized crime and public corruption. The AG also defends the Commonwealth in legal proceedings, should one of its statutes be challenged in court, and reviews the legality of proposed regulations of state government agencies. The attorney general is in a position to defend religious liberty and other constitutional concerns.
Pennsylvania Auditor General
The auditor general is elected to oversee how our tax dollars are spent and to ensure that government programs operate efficiently and effectively, sort of a fiscal “watchdog” for the state’s taxpayers.
The state treasurer is the steward of Pennsylvania’s financial resources. It is his or her job to responsibly invest our tax dollars.
The issues facing Pennsylvania present serious moral, ethical and social justice questions. Each of these elected offices, in their own way, plays a role in how Pennsylvania addresses those issues.
As faithful citizens it is important to ask ourselves, how do we protect human life and dignity? How do we fairly share our blessings and confront the challenges we face? What kind of nation or Commonwealth do we want? What kind of world do we want to shape? The simple answer is we must elect leaders who share these values. Catholic voters must form their conscience around these questions before casting their ballot.
NOTE: PCC will have a presidential voter guide for the General Election in November, but will not provide one for the Primary Election. The guide will look at positions of candidates on issues like abortion, conscience protection and religious liberty, the death penalty, education, access to health care, immigration, marriage, economic policy and global poverty, stem cell research, and international peace and justice. See voter guides for U.S. Senator and Pennsylvania Attorney General, Auditor General and State Treasurer.
A. B. Hill is Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.