We are all called on to strive for the common good which the Catechism defines as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”[i] Our civic and political responsibility as Catholics to care for our neighbors has been extensively explored – just search “Catholic common good” or “Catholic social teaching” online and you’ll find a wealth of information.
So, why bring it up here and now? Because in this time of political division and social unrest, we may be tempted to put our heads in the sand or to circle the wagons in self-protective fear. While it is wise to limit our exposure to news and make smart safety choices, we can’t stop there. Like it or not, we cannot ignore that we are all members of society, and we need to participate in it conscientiously – the pandemic, racial injustice, and the storms and fires stoked by climate change have certainly shown us that! As our Holy Father Francis recently said, “To build a healthy, inclusive, just and peaceful society we must do so on the rock of the common good. . . ….The promotion of the common good is a duty of justice that falls on each citizen. And for Christians, it is also a mission . . ….” It is imperative that “I love not only those who love me—my family, my friends, my group—but also those who do not love me, who do not know me or who are strangers, and even those who make me suffer or whom I consider enemies.” According to Pope Francis, this love “is not limited to the relationship between two or three people or to friends or to family. It comprises civil and political relationships, including a relationship with nature.” (Pope Francis, September 9, 2020 General Audience)
Let’s face it—politics can be downright confusing as a Catholic person of good will. How do we vote our conscience when no candidate or political platform reflects our moral convictions across the board? How do we prioritize our values? In the end, these are questions that we all need to grapple with prayerfully.
But perhaps it doesn’t need to be complicated? I believe the answer can be found in a K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Sweetheart!). Amid the confusion, it is helpful to focus on the “big picture” lessons of the life Jesus Christ, especially His Passion, and lessons like the Golden Rule and the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37). They teach us everything we need to know about how to approach politics and our daily life so that we are serving God and the common good.
So, do your best, be courageous and stout-hearted, and “have no fear of bad news” (Psalm 112:7). We are loved by our God beyond all understanding with the tenderness and mercy of a gentle mother. Christ will never abandon or forsake us. We WILL get through this time TOGETHER, thank God!
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1906, citing Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 1961, no. 65 and Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 1965, no. 26.
For additional inspiration and guidance regarding the need to work for the common good and the love and compassion that is at the heart of that call, see the words of Pope Benedict the XVI in Caritas in Veritae, and read what Pope Francis has to say in “The Name of God is Mercy,” Laudato Si and in his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (Brethren All).