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Panel discusses religious issues in 2004 election

Tricia de Groot | Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Serving in a series of events sponsored by the Rock the Vote Campaign and the Center for Social Concerns, “Politics and Religion in 2004” functioned as a forum for students to reflect on how they see faith in politics. Held Tuesday in the Coleman Morse lounge, a panel of six students shared their reflections based upon the document “Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.” Keri Oxley, Andrew DeBerry, Chris Broughton, Cecilia Garza, Ky Bertoli and Tom Feeney sat on the panel while Maureen Fitzpatrick served as organizer and Peter Quaranto as both a moderator and organizer.DeBerry began the forum by stating that faithful citizenship should be the idea behind voting. He expressed how he often turns toward to the seven themes of “The Catholic Social Teaching,” which he feels naturally lend themselves to political issues. He then discussed the importance of foreign relations, terrorism, relations in Iraq, education, family and abortion, but stressed the idea of the common good. He said that when electing, we need to look at the “mentality and values the leader uses” because events will arise during their term that cannot be planned for. DeBerry emphasized the common good goes beyond our national borders, and that we need to integrate faith and citizenship when voting for the concept.Broughton began by raising a few questions that he felt stood out from the document, stressing Catholics cannot have a political home as Democrats or Republicans and that we all differ as a result of the communities we live in and the experiences we have. These differences, claimed Broughton, will affect how individuals vote.”We have to respect that,” he said.Bertoli entered the panel with a reflection unlike the other five. Instead of focusing on faith or citizenship, he emphasized the “dangers we face as a democracy in an election year.”Bertoli said national politics aren’t really that important because we are impacted more by local communities than national politics. “We need to take issues that are politically important to us and bring them to our communities because too much is riding on an institution that can do too little,” Bertoli said. “We must be most critical of the lives of our own community.”Oxley reinforced Brough-ton’s claim that as Catholics we are politically homeless, but at the same time, she said that “we can choose a shelter.”Oxley focused on abortion and euthanasia, which she considers the fundamental concept of human rights. She then went on to claim that “the inherent good in our society isn’t being adhered to in a pro-choice nation,” and that from an objective standpoint, items such as war and economic stances can by philosophically and theologically justified while we can never justify euthanasia and abortion.”When I think of human rights, I think of economic human rights,” Garza said.She also spoke out about the importance of thinking crucially about foreign policy, and how “We should be thinking, as Catholics, what it means to be politically engaged,” she said.”We need to think of ways to make stronger stances to our officials,” Garza said.Feeney concluded by stating that first and foremost, we are citizens of a particular community, a culture and then we are citizens of the United States. He also said that we are readers and authors with power to shape the culture. He finished by discussing the President’s duties according to the Constitution, and said that we should “vote primarily on war and then on those issues the president can impact directly.”