Early in the morning of Nov. 4, my twitter was flooded with news and various opinion about the elections in the United States. I was stunned to see some friends, non-Americans and even some church figures, expressing their thoughts on who should take over the White House.
Prior to the elections, Bishop Thomas Joseph Tobin of Providence questioned Joe Biden’s (full name — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.) Catholic identity on a Twitter post. The bishop noted that it was the “first time in awhile” that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it.
On the other hand, Jesuit priest and author, James Martin, who was vocal for his preference for Biden, earlier tweeted that he was “seeing more priests saying that voting for Joe Biden is a mortal sin.”
“It is not,” said Martin, adding that “it is not a sin to vote for either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump. Nor is it a sin to be Democrat or Republican.”
Finally, Biden has been projected to have won the race against incumbent Donald Trump.
But why would I care? Does it have an impact on our society? More importantly, how would it affect me as a Catholic?
Congratulations to President-elect @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris. Mr Biden is the second Catholic US President. Let us pray for unity, peace and reconciliation in our nation. And let us pray for Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, that they may serve wisely and well. pic.twitter.com/fpOkuTeoIU— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) November 7, 2020
One of the themes of the Church’s social teachings is the “call to participation.” This principle recognizes that everyone has a role to take not only in our communities, but also in the global setting.
We have to admit that the United States is a “superpower” and whoever it decides to place in the White House is a major player in shaping foreign policies and economies.
As an Asian Catholic, I’d like to highlight three issues through the lens of Catholic social teachings.
Denuclearization: North Korea is known for its isolation, nuclear projects, and antipathy toward its closest neighbours, South Korea and Japan, and the United States. North Korea has repeatedly made a show of force that raised concerns.
I recall the Church document “Pacem in Terris” that states: “There is reason to fear that the very testing of nuclear devices for war purposes can, if continued, lead to serious danger for various forms of life on earth.”
In 2017, a missile test conducted by North Korea heightened tension when US President Trump threatened the Asian country “with fire and fury, like the world has never seen.”
Later in 2018, the two leaders agreed to meet at the “Singapore Summit.” It was followed by another meeting in 2019 in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. While some believe it was a political show, the cause to save thousands of lives who might be affected by war should not be undervalued.
The Church’s Catechism makes it clear that “all citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war” and people must develop all necessary measures to prevent a possible armed conflict in respect to human life and the common good.
This is in line with the “principle of solidarity” that says we form one human family in spite of one’s gender, racial, and religious orientation.
How would Biden handle the North Korea issue? Will he pursue a peaceful dialogue? While negotiations on denuclearization remain on the table, the international community should not be complacent.
Climate Change: This has been a major issue for years now, and it takes a number of scientific efforts to come up with a policy that will address the issue.
As a key player, the United States is influential in implementing these policies. However, the incumbent president has long denied the existence global warming. In a tweet on Nov. 3, 2012, Trump said: “Global warming is based on faulty science and manipulated data which is proven by the emails that were leaked.”
In effect, the US withdrew itself from the Paris Agreement.
“There is no greater responsibility than protecting our planet and people from the threat of climate change,” read a joint statement reacting to the US decision.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change notes that the Paris Agreement “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.”
In Pope Francis’ Laudato si’, everyone is called to be stewards of the environment and not its owner.
Will Biden attempt to reverse the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement? Does he have alternative plans to address the issue of global warming?
Life of the Unborn: Biden is a professed Catholic, and even claims how his faith and political views are aligned. “I have the great advantage of my faith, the Catholic social doctrine, and my political views coincide,” he said.
He also expressed support for the right of women to have total control over their bodies — including abortion, a sensitive issue that is contrary to the Catholic Church’s position on the issue.
“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law,” the Church maintains.
In the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” Pope St. John Paul II stated that “to defend and promote life, to show reverence and love for it … is a task which God entrusts to every man, calling him as his living image to share in his own lordship over the world.”
Now that the road to White House is clear for Biden, will there be a “culture of indifference” for the life of the unborn. How much effort will Catholics and other “pro-life” advocates need to do?
In the encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” Pope John XXIII said countries like the United States, which “have attained a superior degree of scientific, cultural and economic development,” should “make a greater contribution to the common cause of social progress.”
As a member of the global community, I have to take my part for ecological justice. As an Asian, I am concerned about nuclear threats, and as a Catholic, I choose life. After all, the Psalms said that “by justice a king gives stability to the land, but one who makes heavy exactions ruin it.”
Adrian Banguis-Tambuyat is a young communication practitioner specializing in online content strategy and broadcast journalism. His interest focuses on social justice, youth formation, communication theology and mass media evangelization.