Ethics & Public Policy Center

Praying for Those to Be Elected



There will be much to ponder, once this interminable electoral cycle comes to an end. Why has so much of the campaign seemed like a prolonged episode of “American Idol,” with candidates trying to sell their personal “narratives” rather than their ideas and policies? Why did Pastor Rick Warren, rather than talented, veteran journalists, raise the questions that many Americans would like to explore in considering their new president: questions of the candidates’ character, compassion, intellectual roots, and moral depth? What does the non-stop cable news cycle do to our national ability to pause and think seriously?

Earlier this year, at the height of the primary season, a senior producer in the network news business told me that, while a political junkie, she was appalled by what she had experienced within many campaigns: the carefully crafted, poll- and focus group- driven manipulation of the electorate’s emotions, in what amount to a variant on the sleazier forms of advertising. Isn’t there something more to running for president than appealing to consumer tastes? And then there’s the media’s own fixation with “gotcha,” which further fuels the vacuity of political conversation and debate.

Truth to tell, campaigns are rarely pretty, if you’re interested in ideas rather than spasms of feeling. 1960 is supposed to have been an exception — our age’s answer to Lincoln and Douglas — but few today remember that Kennedy and Nixon spent an inordinate amount of time during their debates arguing about two rocks off the China coast, Quemoy and Matsu. Still, these past two years seem, at the moment, to have been singularly devoid of a serious exchange of ideas, and singularly dominated by sound bites.

So, with the end in sight, let me suggest that it’s time to pray: to pray for the candidates, because whoever is inaugurated on January 20, 2009, is facing a world of trouble; to pray for ourselves, that we refrain from tribal voting and make wise and prudent choices; and to pray for our country, that we grow up a bit more in the years ahead. With thanks to the Diocese of Wilmington, let me commend to everyone the Litany of St. Thomas More, Martyr, and Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, and Lawyers:

V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Lord, have mercy.
V. Christ, have mercy.
R. Christ, have mercy.
V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ, have mercy.
V. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. St. Thomas More, saint and martyr, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, patron of statesmen, politicians, and lawyers, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, patron of justices, judges, and magistrates, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, model of integrity and virtue in public and private life, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, model of holiness in the sacrament of marriage, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, teacher of your children in the Catholic faith, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, defender of the weak and the poor, R. Pray for us.
V. St. Thomas More, promoter of human life and dignity, R. Pray for us.
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
V, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.

Let us pray: O glorious St. St. Thomas More, patron of statesmen, politicians, judges, and lawyers, your life of prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity, and firm principle in public and family life led you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our statesmen, politicians, judges, and lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life — the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

R. Amen.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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