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An Open Letter to Our Beloved Bishops

By: DeaconKeith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC

Dear Bishops:

I write to you as a loyal son of our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church. I write to you as a Deacon, a member of the clergy, at the lowest rank of orders. I am not a layman, but numbered among those of whom our Catechism proclaims "At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands 'not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry. At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon's special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his "diakonia." (CCC Section 1569)

As your loyal son, especially attached to you by my ordination and reliant upon your profoundly important Episcopal service to the Church and the world, I am also deeply mindful of the burden of your office in these times. I welcomed the Holy Fathers’ special encouragement to you. How fitting that on his twenty fifth anniversary, as a sign of His profound love, he issued the beautiful Apostolic Exhortation “Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ For the Hope of the World.” By so doing he signified once again both the honor and the burden of your office.

I also write to you as a co-founder of “Your Catholic Voice”, an international movement of faithful Catholics serving the common good through four pillars of participation; life, family, freedom and solidarity with the poor. We are responding to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization.” Our movement is dedicated to building a “living legacy” to him by forming a “New Catholic Action”, assiduously loyal to his teachings and to the full social teaching of the Catholic Church. We are also responding to your call for “faithful citizenship” in our civic participation.

As an international movement, our members throughout the world appreciate the wonderful directions given through their own Bishops conferences, each and everyone expounding on the whole treasury that is the Social teaching of the Catholic Church. These writings inform and motivate our movement.

For example, in October 1996, with an eye to the upcoming General Election, the Bishops of England and Wales released “The Common Good and Catholic Social Teaching” another brilliant exposition of the Social Teaching of the Church. Like the American Bishops efforts, it also contained detailed notes on the use of the document for study groups.

Our American members are grateful for the beautifully written letters of the Bishops of the United states, “On Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility”; the first installment issued in 1999 with an eye toward the 2000 national elections and the most recent installment issued just this October, in anticipation of the upcoming 2004 elections. In fact, our movement is built upon the very principles set forth in these letters.

“Your Catholic Voice” as a movement , is a response to these kinds of letters. We “get it”. We know that it is the lay faithful who are particularly called to engage in this effort of “faithful citizenship” and service to the common good. We also know that the tired political labels of our age are often an impediment to authentic Catholic Action. We emphasize that we are neither “liberal” nor “conservative” but Catholic. That is why we are building a non-partisan movement, fully embracing the consistent ethic of life and the whole cloth that is the tapestry of the social teaching of the Church.

We know that it is your role to teach and it is particularly the task of the lay faithful to embody the principles derived from Catholic Social teaching in movements dedicated to authentic social, political and economic justice.

As we labor in the fields of contemporary culture we need your clear direction. After all, no matter which nation we find ourselves in, Catholic Action stands for timeless principles that flow from truth and fundamental human rights.

As I write this letter, I am reminded of the words of Peter Maurin, a co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. In his monumental “Easy Essays” he speaks of the task of building a new society, reminding the serious Catholic of the task to “…create a new society, within the shell of the old, with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks like new”. That is our task.

We know the difficulties that you face and the particular role that you play in both the Church and the world into which she has been sent to carry on the Redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. We thank you for your courage and your clarity in giving us the teachings needed for us to now participate fully in all aspects of the social justice mission including political participation.

I never want to be numbered among ...

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