The Church teaches that in order for a person to vote or make decisions with moral consequences, one's conscience must be formed properly.
To help in that formation process, the bishops exercise their role as teachers. While they teach consistently on a wide array of issues, in recent weeks Catholic citizens have seen an intensification of teaching at the convergence of citizenship and respect for life. Cardinal Rigali has led the way in this regard.
Anybody paying attention can't say he or she does not know Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and the importance of integrating it and the whole of the Church's social teaching in all that we do -- especially in the votes we cast in this election that is looking like a milestone if not a turning point in American history.
Still haven't heard this teaching?
Hear and watch for yourself the Cardinal's homily at the annual Red Mass he celebrated Oct. 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, or read the text.
Also, Bishop William Murphy of New York joined the Cardinal in a statement about the social and political steps needed to protect life.
Then there's the handy if little-known pamphlet by Bishop William Lori of Connecticut called "Conscience and the Catholic Voter" that's a quick, insightful read, or the full-length version.
Finally, or at least up until this point, Cardinal Rigali's latest column for the Catholic Standard & Times may be the most powerful statement yet on the link between faithful citizenship and respect for life. Read through to the end; it's compelling teaching.
And remember to make time for prayer. If you haven't begun saying the Faithful Citizenship Novena suggested by the U.S. Bishops' Conference, try praying aloud with the podcast (and don't miss other pod resources on the election) or silently with the written word.
Now is the time to raise up in prayer this moment of greatest importance for our country.