In the article Don’t Vote for the ‘Better Catholic’ Father James Martin S. J. says: ”But it is impossible to look within a person’s soul and judge who is the ‘better Catholic,’ simply based on what a person says during a campaign, much less a heated debate. My point here, though, is not to wade into the murky waters of politics, which I try to avoid, and leave to people more knowledgeable than me. Rather, it’s to point out the impossibility of ascertaining who is the “better Catholic,” based on public pronouncements.”"
I agree that one debate isn’t necessarily going to give us a bird’s-eye view into either of the candidate’s souls but that is not all we as voters have to go on. We have their statements, actions, and their positions on policies that we are able to judge them on. Father Martin claims that it is impossible to judge who is the “better Catholic” and that since we are unable to see into a person’s soul we can’t possibly know who is a better Catholic. But don’t words and actions give us a window into a person’s soul? We judge people by their actions and words all the time. If a person steals money I may not be able to see into their soul but I do know that the person violated the law, that he needs to repent and acknowledge the wrong he committed, and needs to make restitution for that action which violated the law and was also a sin.
With Biden and Ryan we are able to judge them by way of what they have promulgated via their actions and words. We can know whether one or the other believes in Church teaching if one comes out in favor of something that is contrary to Church teaching or if another speaks on an issue and holds a view which is consistent with Church teaching.
To properly judge whether one candidate is a “better Catholic” than the other one must have an informed conscience, know which issues are considered a matter of prudential judgment and those issues which are non-negotiable or de fide doctrine and understand the difference between the two.
Does either party fully embrace the entirety of Catholic teaching? I agree with Father Martin when he says neither party fully embraces Catholic teaching. But does one party have to necessarily fully embrace Catholicism for us to be able to judge whether one party is better than the other? We can judge which party is better than the other based on their actions and words. Does one party promote intrinsic evil(s)? Does one party threaten the existence of the Church and Her principles? Does one party consistently promote policies which are contrary to de fide doctrine?
Catholic bishops have identified abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, attacks on religious liberty, and euthanasia as the intrinsic evils we as faithful Catholics are to focus on when voting this election. Which party supports these intrinsic evils? Which party stands up and is fighting against these intrinsic evils? Now, which party do you support – the one that supports and promotes these intrinsic evils or the one that doesn’t?