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Catholic Leaders Challenge Attacks on Voting Rights and Democracy


September 27, 2022


Austin Schuler, aschuler@faithinpubliclife.org, (540) 280-3393 

John Gehring, jgehring@faithinpubliclife.org, (410) 302-3792

Catholic Leaders Challenge Attacks on Voting Rights and Democracy 

“Voter suppression is a sin and silence is complicity,” Catholic sisters, university presidents and clergy write in a national statement.

Washington, D.C. — The leaders of national Catholic social justice organizations, scholars at Catholic colleges and presidents of Catholic universities are warning that Christian nationalism and systematic efforts to undermine voting rights threaten our democracy. 

“Powerful institutions and political leaders are working to rig the system and erect racially discriminatory obstacles to voting and full participation in American life,” the leaders write in a statement released today. “Voter suppression is a sin and silence is complicity.” 

The statement, organized by Faith in Public Life, has been endorsed by leaders representing the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, National Black Sisters’ Conference, NETWORK, Pax Christi USA, Franciscan Action Network, and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. The statement is also signed by Rev. James Greenfield, President of DeSales University in Pennsylvania, Sister Barbara Reid, President of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University. 

“White Christian nationalism — an ideology heretical to authentic faith — represents a clear and present danger to building a multi-faith, multiracial democracy,” the leaders write. “Testimony and evidence from Congressional hearings on the violent insurrection against our country last January 6th have only strengthened our urgency to confront attacks against the principle that voters choose our leaders in free and peaceful elections.” The Catholic leaders highlight that lawmakers in states across the country have passed laws that make it harder to vote, which disproportionately impact Black and Brown citizens. 

“As a Black Catholic and an American, I believe we dishonor the legacy of courageous activists and faith leaders who were beaten and often killed fighting for the sacred right to vote when we fail to challenge those undermining our democracy today,” said Rev. Bryan Massingale, a professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University. “The connected threats of Christian nationalism, political violence and racist voter suppression are not new, but they must be confronted again with moral clarity. I urge our bishops, my fellow priests and all Catholics to speak out more boldly.”

“Catholic universities educate students to be active and engaged citizens who serve the common good,” said Rev. James Greenfield, President of DeSales University. “Leaders in Catholic higher education have a vital role to play in advocating for equal access to the ballot. When those in power make it harder to vote and even deny the results of fair elections, the foundations of our democracy are threatened. Catholic social teaching tells us that all have a right to and responsibility for active participation in society. We are called to work for an inclusive democracy where all Americans can participate in civic life.”

“As women of faith and faithful Americans, we believe that all people have the right and obligation to participate fully in our democracy, including the freedom to freely exercise their sacred right to vote,” said Sister Carol Zinn, Executive Director, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. “So many people struggled and died to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and those victories are now threatened today. We must rise to meet this challenge with the same moral courage and persistent advocacy characterized by those who refused to accept white supremacy and Jim Crow laws.”

“We are proud to stand with our partners in confronting the growing threats to our multi-faith, multiracial democracy,” said Joan Neal, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer at NETWORK. “History shows that democracy is the system of government that best affords every person the freedom and dignity to flourish. As people who believe we are all created in the image and likeness of God, all Catholics must come together to protect our democracy at this critical time.” 

The full statement is available here. 


Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, with a network of over 50,000 leaders, they are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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