American Catholics have a dual heritage, said Ryan Hamilton, government relations associate for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s Catholic bishops.
Through baptism, instilled with the light of Christ, Catholics are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, Hamilton said. And as Americans, citizens of a representative democracy, everyone is called to participate in public life and contribute to the common good, he said.
“Our system requires active participation by us, the citizens,” Hamilton said. “And so faithful citizenship is the term we use to describe how Catholics are meant to live out that dual heritage and bring the richness of our faith into the public square.”
Hamilton shared his thoughts during a conversation about the Nov. 8 midterm elections for the “Practicing Catholic” radio show hosted by Patrick Conley. Hamilton referred to something Pope Francis said in 2013 about politics: That good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves, so that leaders can govern.
MCC staff use the phrase “form, inform and transform” to describe “ways we are called to participate, or the ways to practice faithful citizenship,” Hamilton said. Catholic social teaching helps Catholics form their conscience, he said, and once formed, “we need to inform ourselves about the candidates’ positions.”
“So making an informed vote requires that we get to know these folks,” he said. “We need to be in relationship with our elected officials,” so the first interaction isn’t after the elections. “Let’s be in a relationship starting now, when they’re candidates,” he said.