Last January in its first meeting of the year our editorial board, as it has done every year since its creation, considered and discussed what should be the thematic content of the magazine for the current year. In the past we have dedicated each publication of El Ignaciano to one specific issue such as ¨women in the Church¨, ¨youth and the Church¨, ¨gun violence in schools¨ and others. In that January meeting of the editorial board we decided that the general elections taking place in November in the United States deserved our full attention, and we decided to make the theme of the March, June and September cycle of El Ignaciano those topics that are relevant, important and necessary for the Catholic voter to cast a conscientious and informed vote.
In the editorial of the March issue, which opened the cycle, we wrote: ¨El Ignaciano has planned its issues for March, June and September of this year with that crucial event (General Elections) in mind. Catholic, Christian, voters have a responsibility to participate in that central political process and to do so in a way that accurately reflects the values that inform the gospel. The Beatitudes should be carefully read, meditated on and used as a measuring stick when judging political platforms and programs as well as a candidate´s track record. This is not an easy thing to accomplish in the complicated world of American culture and politics, and it is necessary to avail oneself of the expertise of those who have dedicated their lives to the study of these issues. To this end El Ignaciano will try, in this and the coming issues of June and September, to provide the reader with articles that highlight some of the most important issues at stake in this coming election. ¨
We realized that as the publication of a Catholic institution, El Ignaciano could not, should not and would not endorse, support or recommend one candidate over another at the federal, state or local level. To this conviction we have been and remain faithful in every issue of the magazine published during the current year. El Ignaciano does not endorse, support or recommend any particular candidate at the federal, state or local levels.
In keeping with our decision to provide the reader with articles that highlight some of the most important challenges at stake in this coming election, we have in the past two issues, as well as in this one, published articles on many of the topics that impinge upon the most important concerns being discussed and debated in the public arena in pursuit of the common good. In doing so we follow the injunction of Pope Francis in Gaudete et Exultate paragraph 105: ¨Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.¨ A clear warning from Pope Francis that we should not be ¨one issue voters.¨
There is no better guide for the Catholic voter in making decisions concerning the common good, which every political decision ultimately is, than following Catholic Social Justice norms which are an accurate and authentic reflection of Gospel values. Indeed, as a Catholic publication we have a moral and prophetic obligation to present, illustrate, explain and defend Catholic social justice norms as the most authentic projection of gospel values and, therefore, the best guide for Catholic voters in making electoral decisions.
The Catholic voter should ask herself or himself which candidate has a track record and/or a program that best reflects Catholic social justice norms. Not only one isolated norm, no matter how important that one norm may be, but all the norms taken as a whole. It is the objective of the articles in El Ignaciano to try to lay out and clarify for the reader how the programs and/or track records of a candidate, as a whole, square with Catholic social justice norms, but it is not its purpose to recommend or endorse, or support one candidate over the other. That judgment is the responsibility of the reader and voter alone. It is, indeed up to the reader to make a final judgment and a final decision concerning that matter. Catholic moral teaching always makes the conscience of the person the arbiter of moral action. It is not for the articles nor for El Ignaciano to recommend, choose or favor one candidate over another, but it is their moral obligation to present the unvarnished facts in an accurate manner and to the best of their ability. Obviously, it is also true that the work, opinions and professional judgments of the author of an article are his/her own and not necessarily those of El Ignaciano.
Contemporary American cultural and political discourses are difficult, complex and many times guided by principles and assumptions that are not necessarily in keeping with gospel values. Radical individualism, a principle of competition not balanced by the principle of solidarity, the absence of concern for the common good, extreme economicism as a guiding principle, worship of an impersonal marketplace, disregard for the environment, etc., act as underlying assumptions and implicit guiding principles that remain intellectually hidden but unconsciously affect the disposition and attitudes of many toward matters of great importance to the common good. It is this absence of clarity and/or awareness of implicit principles, that many times mislead Catholics into positions which are in dire contradiction to their own self-avowed Catholicism. The case comes to mind of those Catholics that label Catholic social justice norms as being ¨extreme leftist positions¨ or even go as far as labeling Pope Francis as a communist. It is, indeed, a regrettable situation.
It is our hope and the goal of all our efforts that El Ignaciano be of help to its readers in navigating the rough seas of an electoral process that consumes the attention of everyone in our society and that bombards the citizens through printed media, television and social media with a constant barrage of advertisements, attacks, innuendos and stories that are not necessarily accurate, honest or even respectful of the rights and dignity of the other. We hope to inform, explain, clarify and most importantly challenge the conscience of Catholic voters and of all voters of good will to remember as they cast their ballot that, as Mathew tells us in 6:24 ¨ No one is able to serve two masters. For either he will have hatred for the one, and love the other, or he will persevere with the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth. ¨ To serve God is to always choose the path of justice, compassion and deep respect for the life, the rights and the dignity of all our brothers and sisters regardless of race, ethnic origin, language, gender, religion or sexual orientation from the womb to the tomb.