Bishop Kagan is the ordinary of Bismarck, North Dakota and is serving as the apostolic administrator of Fargo while the see is vacant. As part of his role, Bishop Kagan issued the letter asking parishioners “to vote as a Catholic citizen with a properly formed Catholic conscience.” Bishop Kagan wrote that the teachings of the Church are “the means for us to properly form our consciences so that we seek always what is true and good.”
He went on to say that intrinsically evil actions, such as abortion and euthanasia, “must always be rejected and opposed,” and that issues that do not directly affect the life and dignity of people are secondary to these. Though Bishop Kagan “will not tell you how to vote,” he wrote that “I ask you to vote for the candidates who represent you as Catholic citizens. Please do not vote for the candidate who is most likeable.” “There isn’t a circumstance that can ever justify you or me checking our faith at the door, and then going in and doing something that is contrary to what we say we believe.”
“It does a great disservice to other Catholics, and to those who are not Catholic, if we create one of those artificial divisions between what I believe as a Catholic and what I do as a Catholic.” Bishop Kagan added that “conscience can be in error,” and that while there are things that are “easily recognized” by individual consciences as true or false, there are also matters “in between.” “And that’s where the relationship between Church authority and conscience… becomes so necessary and essential, because it’s not always clear what is the Truth, and therefore what is the good.”
“So it’s that recognition that there is an authority… that can inform and properly form one’s conscience so it recognizes the Truth, and then directs the person to seek that which is true and good.” He said the relationship between authority and conscience is a “complementary” one, and that authority and conscience are not meant to be “at odds” with one another. “For a Catholic to properly form and inform his or her conscience, so that the truth is recognized and the good is pursued… one has to be able to look to the authentic teaching of that truth,” he offered.
Please read the entire letter at the Diocese of Bismark website.