I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit
SPRINGFIELD, IL (Catholic Online) - I make it a regular task to call attention to the wonderful Bishops we have in the Catholic Church in the United States. There are more being raised up daily by this great Pope. We will not join with those in what I call the "Catholic circular firing squad" in blaming the Bishops for the challenges we face. We are all, in the words of Pope Benedict, "Co-Responsible" for the Church.
The Holy Father chose a significant address he delivered to the 6th Assembly of the International Catholic Action Forum on August 10, 2012 to call on the lay faithful to assume their vital role. He explained: "Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as "collaborators" with the clergy, but as persons truly "co-responsible" for the being and activity of the Church. It is important, therefore, that a mature and committed laity be united, who are able to make their own specific contribution to the Church's mission."
Active political participation is primarily the role of the lay faithful. That involvement is now most urgent as we approach this crucial Presidential election. It is not the role of the Bishops to directly engage the political sphere. It is the role of the Bishops to teach the lay faithful about their special obligation to active and faithful citizenship.
From the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops had the primary task of teaching the faithful so that they could fully live the Christian faith and give it away to others. The Church has always been blessed with good teaching Bishops, especially at critical times in her history. We are living in just such a time.
Some of the most profound teaching on the Christian Faith and way of life is found in the Apostolic Fathers. We have letters which circulated from the first few centuries written by giants like Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch. We also have sets of instructions and catechetical teaching to the early church such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve).
The word encyclical means a circulating letter. We now attach the word mostly to the most authoritative teaching in the letters from the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. However, it is derived from the way those letters from the early church bishops were passed around to believers. They were circulated among the faithful of the Church.
Throughout Church history the teaching of Bishops has helped the faithful to mature in their faith, apply that faith to their daily lives and grow in their capacity to influence their age and progress in holiness. So it so it must be in our own day.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki is another courageous and holy Bishop. He was set over the faithful of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. What a gift. He is one of those whom I am now calling "Benedict's Bishops". He writes a regular column for the official newspaper of the Diocese, the Catholic Times.
His columns are always excellent. They are a regular feature of this fine newspaper and grouped under the theme of Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love. However, his recent column could not pass by me without my making it widely available to as many people as possible.
I offer it below for our readers around the globe. It needs a much wider circulation. It is entitled "Think and pray about your vote in upcoming election." Please read it, pray through it, photocopy it, distribute it, send it by E mail and post it on your social network. Then, act on it.
Think and pray about your vote in upcoming election.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Series:Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Much attention was given at the Democratic National Convention held recently in Charlotte, N.C., to the fact that all references to God had been purged from the draft version of the party platform. After outcries of protest from outside as well as within the Democratic Party, the sentence with the same reference to God used in 2008 was restored to read, "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."
Before anyone relaxes and concludes that all is well now that the Democratic Party Platform contains a single passing reference to God, the way that this was done should give us pause. Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa had to call for the voice vote three times because each time the sound level for the "ayes" and the "nays" sounded about even, far short of the two-thirds necessary according to convention rules to amend the platform. That did not stop the convention chairman from declaring, "The ayes have it!"
What is troubling about that is the blatant disregard for the rules and for the apparent wishes of about half the delegates. The reference to God is back in the platform apparently because President Obama wanted it back in. That may be fine for now, but if a future president wants references to God taken out, apparently that can be done regardless of the wishes of the delegates if that is what The Leader wants. That does not bode well for democracy in the Democratic Party.
Even more troubling is that this whole discussion about God in the platform is a distraction from more disturbing matters that have been included in the platform. In 1992 Presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." That was the party's official position until 2008. Apparently "rare" is so last century that it had to be dropped, because now the Democratic Party Platform says that abortion should be "safe and legal." Moreover the Democratic Party Platform supports the right to abortion "regardless of the ability to pay." Well, there are only three ways for that to happen: either taxpayers will be required to fund abortion, or insurance companies will be required to pay for them (as they are now required to pay for contraception), or hospitals will be forced to perform them for free.
Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform also supports same-sex marriage, recognizes that "gay rights are human rights," and calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Now, why am I mentioning these matters in the Democratic Party Platform? There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils. My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding "political" and didn't say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins. I know that the Democratic Party's official "unequivocal" support for abortion is deeply troubling to pro-life Democrats.
So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin. The Republican Party Platform does say that courts "should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases." But the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (in paragraph 2267), "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."
"If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils.
Certainly there are "pro-choice" Republicans who support abortion rights and "Log Cabin Republicans" who promote same-sex marriage, and they are equally as wrong as their Democratic counterparts. But these positions do not have the official support of their party.
Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.
I pray that God will give you the wisdom and guidance to make the morally right choices.
May God give us this grace. Amen.
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