Clear Conscience: A Book for Every Catholic’s Shelf

Bethanie Ryan
2 min readOct 26, 2020


In an election year, we can count on a few things:

  • Political ads
  • Reminders to register to vote
  • Reminders to vote
  • Partisan opinions and nasty debates online
  • Catholic voting guides

I have often found Catholic voting guides to be disappointing at best. They often come across as very partisan or touting the particular concerns of the writer of the guide. If, like me, you’ve been disgusted by more than one voting guide in the past, you need to get yourself a copy of Clear Conscience: A Catholic Guide for Voting from Ascension Press.

I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the book, having been burned by so many Catholic voting guides in the past. I was beyond pleased. It starts with discussing the very fundamentals of politics and democracy. Chapter one alone is titled, “What is Politics?” It combs through the early history of democracy and American history to give the reader a primer on what we need to know.

It gives a solid foundation of the principles that a Catholic should use in political decisions. Terms like solidarity and subsidiarity are defined and explained. People say that the Church should work to form consciences and this book really takes you to the root to help form your conscience.

It goes from there to discuss many of the most pressing issues of our day from poverty, racism, abortion, immigration, sexuality, and much more. All of these issues are discussed in light of Church teaching, logic and natural law (natural law being another term that is defined and explained). It gives some specific policy ideas, but mainly gives broad stroke concepts and concerns that every Catholic should take with them to the voting booth.

Everything is backed up by respected Church leaders past and present and Church documents. Regardless of where you are in the Church spectrum, conservative, moderate, liberal or just Catholic, you will find voices that you can respect and listen to on each of the issues. This guide successfully doesn’t tout any particular politician or policy. It gives us the tools to make good decisions at the polls. This book can easily be kept on your bookshelf to revisit in future elections.

For everything this book has to offer, it is a mere 142 pages long. There is still plenty of time to read it before the election this year and this book can easily be reread next time. It will be a long time before this book goes out of date, the principles it discusses are eternal like our Church.

I was very happy when I saw Clear Conscience: A Catholic Guide for Voting from Ascension Press and they graciously gave me a copy in return for an honest review.