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State Chaplain 2020 - 2021



Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
Email: Chaplin@kofc-wa.org

October 2020

Ahhhhhh, election season… Wait, did I say “ahhhhh”? I meant “uuuugghh!” I suppose there are a lot of people who rejoice with inexpressible glee during presidential election years: political science majors, ad salesmen, and anyone who enjoys watching a good fight. I have never enjoyed the experience. I find myself battling worry and anxiety over the election, getting frustrated as tension and hostility heighten, and becoming weary from the constant barrage of political conversation and advertising. I suspect I am not alone in this. In any case--whether we enjoy or dread it--the time is drawing near for the American people to cast their votes.

The first thing we want to promote as Knights of Columbus is voter turnout. For the past hundred years or so, only about 50-60% of eligible voters have voted in presidential elections. The Knights’ Nonpartisan National Get Out the Vote Program (kofc.org/vote) offers a platform online that makes it easy for people to register to vote, check their registration, find their polling place, and arrange for absentee and early voting. I encourage you to share this website with members of your councils, family members and friends, through social media and in whatever way possible. Every citizen shares the responsibility for electing our government leaders.

Secondly, we as Knights need to promote civility in politics. Of course, we have no control over the materials that political parties and candidates put out. However, we do control our own engagement in conversation, what emails we send or forward, and what we post on social media. Knights should lead by example. “Be gracious and charitable when using social media to discuss political issues. Rather than attacking a candidate or political party, share resources to guide others in their faithful citizenship. Refrain from engaging with people who leave inflammatory or impolite comments on your council’s Facebook Page.” (From kofc.org)

A third and final suggestion is that we vote well, that is, with properly-formed consciences. To this end, I urge you to read and take to heart the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, available at usccb.org. One of their key points in this document is that not all public policy issues are equal. Thus, when considering various presidential candidates, we must first identify their stances on the weightier and more urgent issues, and only then look at the other points, which are important even if less pressing.

Let’s say you and your wife are going out for dinner, and you want to hire a sitter for the children. No perfect sitter exists; they all have their good points, but they also have faults. You have to sort through the good and bad to make the best hire. Maybe one sitter is excellent in helping the children do their homework, but is also a tyrannical disciplinarian, inflicting serious bodily harm on any child that even slightly misbehaves. You would not hire that sitter, since the well-being of the children is of primary concern. Another sitter would die for the children, but is a slob, and you know the kitchen will be a mess when you get home. Though not ideal, this sitter is a potential hire, since you are on the same page regarding the weightier issues.

This is a simplified analogy, but the main point is valid: we may not disregard any of the important issues, but we must pay attention to the critical issues first. The Bishops of the United States are unambiguous about what constitutes the preeminent issue for our consideration. Please read their document and heed what they have to say about our political responsibility.

 

Vivat Jesus!

 

Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire, State Chaplain

 



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