As we draw closer to the presidential elections, our RCIA teams will have plenty of opportunities to catechize about Catholic social teaching. The U.S. bishops, as they do every election season, have provided lots of resources for parishes to help us be responsible citizens and faithful Catholics. As catechists, we might not think to look at the Homily Suggestions page, but the suggestions there apply to catechesis as much as to preaching.
1. Highlight Catholic tradition
Don’t save up your “big talk” about the elections for the week before voting day. Weave the teaching of the church throughout the Sundays between now and November. As citizens and as Catholics, we are called not only to provide for the needy but to actively support policies that will make the world a more just place. Do the catechumens understand the moral connection between social policy and the Gospel?
2. Promote participation in public life
As Catholics, we have a responsibility to bring our faith into dialogue with the issues raised by the political parties and candidates. How will we encourage the catechumens to scrutinize political candidates and issues through the lens of faith?
3. Ask questions rather than providing answers
The best way to help catechumens make the connection between faith and political choices is to ask thought-provoking questions.
4. Avoid partisanship
The bishops do not support one political party over another, and neither should our RCIA teams. We cannot hand out political material or take a position that implies a Catholic or parish endorsement of or opposition to a party or a candidate. As the U.S. bishops say in their document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, it often seems that “no party and too few candidates fully share the church’s comprehensive commitment to the life and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death” (No. 16).
5. Tell people to vote, not how to vote
Encourage faith-based questions that arise from the Sunday liturgy, but do not give answers that imply how catechumens should vote. Teach them how to use their faith to shape their politics.
6. Promote prayer for all politicians
Catholics are obligated to pray for all civil authorities, even if we don’t agree with their political positions. The catechumens share in that obligation.