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At the Center
Bishop Robert McElroy on Conscience
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012
In a talk yesterday on the engagement of the Catholic conscience with American public life, Robert McElroy of the San Francisco Diocese reviewed three dimensions of conscience that, he argued, should frame our understanding about our role as citiznes:
The Motivational Level: McElroy urged his audience to examine what motivates them in their political lives, to determine whether tribalism or self-interest were at the heart of their motivation or whether they were striving to be an instrument for attaining the common good.
The Directive Level: McElroy identified key social teachings of the Church that should inform conscience, including:
The Deliberative Level: McElroy pointed out that these key aspects of Catholic social teaching "bisect American politics." Republicans, he said, tend to focus on the right to life and family values; Democrats are in sympathy with the option for the poor and the concern with the environment
To McElroy, voting is a moral act. It's not an endorsement of a candidate's entire platform; it's an assessment, using conscience, of what person will best advance the common good in the particular situation they face.