On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, the Virginian Pilot ran an offensive and ill-informed political cartoon drawn by Walt Taylor. It depicted a voter casting a ballot for Governor while holding his nose. It was ironic because it depicted the exact opposite of the truth we face as Voters. Virginians are not facing a "lesser of two evils" conundrum when they go to the polls on November 5, 2013. The choice between the two candidates for Governor of Virginia has never been clearer. We can walk with our heads held high into those voting booths and vote for someone who will govern this Commonwealth with integrity, wisdom, courage, and compassion, infused with an understanding of personal and social responsibility. That candidate is Ken Cuccinelli.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, the Virginian Pilot ran an offensive and ill-informed political cartoon drawn by Walt Taylor. It depicted a voter casting a ballot for Governor while holding his nose. He was at the head of a line of other voters whose facial reaction compounded the offense by expressing similar distaste in exercising this precious constitutional right.
It was ironic because it depicted the exact opposite of the truth we face as Voters. Virginians are not facing a "lesser of two evils" conundrum when they go to the polls on November 5, 2013. The choice between the two candidates for Governor of Virginia has never been clearer.
Not only do we not have to hold our noses, we can walk with our heads held high into those voting booths and vote for someone who will govern this Commonwealth with integrity, wisdom, courage, and compassion, infused with an understanding of personal and social responsibility, that candidate is Ken Cuccinelli.
On Sunday morning, November 3, 2013, I read an article by Julian Walker in the Virginia Pilot entitled "Same Faith, Opposing Views on Government'. It purported to explain the major differences between the two candidates for the office of the Governor of Virginia as a matter of the candidate's view of governing. The title was misguided, inaccurate and misleading.
While it is true that the candidates have differing views on the size and role of both the state and federal government, this does not explain their most fundamental difference. It is their view on the dignity of every human life which separates them most definitively.
Ken Cuccinelli recognizes the Right to life every human person, including our youngest neighbors in the womb, and Terry McAulliffe does not recognize that right for children in the womb. Rather, he regards them as having no rights at all.
In the second paragraph of the Sunday article Julian Walker of the Virginia Pilot offered an assessment of the contrast, "Tuesday, Virginians likely will pick a Roman Catholic as their next governor- either Cuccinelli or Democrat Terry McAuliffe, men with starkly different interpretations of how church doctrine on human dignity applies to public policy."
The writer does not understand what the Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of every human person from conception up to and including a natural death. This is not simply a religious doctrine intended only for religious people. Rather, the Church affirms that this is objectively true, revealed by the Natural Moral Law which can be known by the exercise of reason, verified by science and binding on any truly just society.
Further, the writer has a mistaken understanding of the duty of a lay Catholic to be morally coherent and live a unity of life in every sphere of their lives. In these two candidates we have one who is morally coherent, Ken Cuccinelli, and one who is morally incoherent, Terry McAulliffe. Catholics should choose the morally coherent candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, to be the next Governor of Virginia.
I write as a private citizen. Also, before I receive nasty e-mails threatening the tax exemption of Catholic Online, it is NOT a tax exempt organization. It is organized as a for profit business and can speak in the political sphere without limitation. Besides which, I am not writing for Catholic Online, I am writing for myself. I am making a personal endorsement.
I am a Virginian by choice. My wife and I moved to the Commonwealth decades ago. We raised our five children here and have six grandchildren. Hailing from the inner city of Boston as a child, I grew up in a blue-collar, Irish and French Catholic family.
Though my family was identified with the Democratic Party, that Party left me years ago when, with all of their talk about concern for the poor, they refused to hear the cry of the ones whom Mother Teresa called the poorest of the poor, our first neighbors in the home of whole human race, their mother's womb.
I never formally registered as a Republican when my family moved to Virginia. The Commonwealth did not require such an action. I do not identify much with the Republican Party these days, especially the establishment wing of that party. Rather, I try to consider the candidate, his or her character and their positions on the issues which matter most.
As a Catholic citizen, I seek to inform my exercise of faithful citizenship with the principles offered in the Social teaching of my Church. I know that those principles are not simply religious, in the sense of offered only for religious people. Rather, they are rooted in the Natural Moral law and serve the common good of society. They are offered to the whole of society.
Those principles include; respect for all human life at every age and stage, recognition and protection of marriage between a man and a women - and the family and the society founded upon it; authentic human freedom - with religious freedom as the first freedom; solidarity with the poor (in all of their manifestations) and an approach to good governance which starts at the smallest level, the first government, the family.
I am a constitutional lawyer, a writer, an entrepreneur and a member of the Catholic clergy, a deacon. However, I write this endorsement as a private citizen. I have decided to take this action of making such a personal endorsement because I believe that the difference in the visions of a future offered by the opposing candidates in this race is crystal clear.
In the 1972 Film, the Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the character Michael Cordileone was played by Al Pacino. The movie opened at a Baptism of an infant. Michael is a godfather to his sister's baby and must answer questions based on the ancient Creed of the Church to confirm his role as godfather to Connie's baby. They are intended to position him as an example and teacher; one who will help the parents ensure that the child chooses to follow Jesus Christ in the Church.
The Director juxtaposes another action which is happening simultaneously outside of the four walls of the Church building. It is unleashed as a direct result of a choice made by Michael Cordileone. At the same time of the Baptism his henchmen are carrying out a murderous attack on a rival gang which he directly ordered. This scene reveals the absolute disconnect between faith and life in Michael Cordileone. He emerges as a godfather of an entirely different sort.
Such a separation between faith and Life is usually played out in much more subtle ways. For example, how often have we encountered Catholics or other Christians engaged in businesses who, though seemingly pious on Sundays, fail to infuse the values informed by their faith in their business practices on Monday. Sometimes we hear 'that's business', in an attempt to justify their moral incoherence.
There is a political version of the error. I am tired of seeing it played out over and over in political campaigns where self professing Catholics are involved. It is a scandal and it must be exposed and opposed. It manifests itself in a candidate who professes to be a Catholic but fails to inform his or her political participation and public service by the values taught explicitly by the Church they claim to identify with. They claim that we must somehow separate moral values from political or economic issues. However, there is a moral basis to a truly free society.
The Virginia Governors Race is the most recent example of a candidate who professes his Catholic faith and then takes positions which are absolutely at odds with that profession of faith. Among the numerous documents addressing this serious error was the "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life" issued in 2002 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. It called upon Catholics to be "morally coherent" in the exercise of their citizenship.
That teaching document was directed to "the Bishops of the Catholic Church and, in a particular way, to Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful called to participate in the political life of democratic societies." It offered direction on what it means to act in a manner which is morally coherent in our political and social participation. Here are some salient excerpts:
By its interventions in this area, the Church's Magisterium does not wish to exercise political power or eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions. Instead, it intends - as is its proper function - to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those involved in political life, so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good.
The social doctrine of the Church is not an intrusion into the government of individual countries. It is a question of the lay Catholic's duty to be morally coherent, found within one's conscience, which is one and indivisible. "There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called 'spiritual life', with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called 'secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture. The branch, engrafted to the vine which is Christ, bears its fruit in every sphere of existence and activity.
Living and acting in conformity with one's own conscience on questions of politics is not slavish acceptance of positions alien to politics or some kind of confessionalism, but rather the way in which Christians offer their concrete contribution so that, through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person.
I cannot sit idly by and allow another candidate to trade on the claim to being a Catholic while overtly rejecting the teachings of the Catholic Church. That is what Terry McAulliffe is doing. His comment "as an Irish Catholic I'm adept at taking people out for drinks and doing whatever it takes to get things done" was not only offensive but demonstrated the level of his willingness to trade off of this affiliation.
I have followed the career of Ken Cuccinelli with great interest. I am a former Ohio prosecutor. I served in that capacity when I practiced Law in Ohio, before moving to Virginia. I have been impressed with Ken Cuccinelli's service. As an Attorney General he demonstrated both excellence and compassion. An example was evidenced in his work to exonerate Thomas Haynesworth who was wrongly convicted and spent 27 years in prison.
Cuccinelli is not anti-government. Rather, he offers what I prefer to call a good governance philosophy. He understands that government is best when it is exercised by those closest to the need - and reflects the moral values of a free and good people. He is an intelligent, effective and articulate leader who will do an outstanding job for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
This approach to governance informs his positions across the board. It is shown in his support of the free economy and expanding participation to more and more people in a bottom up approach to economic freedom. It is evident in his respect for the role of parents and his commitment to providing them with the opportunity of choosing where to continue their teaching of their children by expanding their educational options, no matter what their economic status.
I do not know Ken Cuccinelli personally. However, many people whom I have a high regard for do know him. They attest to his being a man of honesty and integrity, a good husband, father and an honest and talented public servant. What I do know is that the vapid campaign his opponent has waged is the most egregious example of everything bad about contemporary politics I have ever witnessed.
Contrary to the annoying political cartoon in the Virginian Pilot, we have a wonderful choice to make on November 5, 2013. We can walk into the Voting Booth with our heads held high and our hearts filled with hope. Morally Coherent Catholics in Virginia should vote for Ken Cuccinnelli for Governor.
Keith A Fournier and his wife Laurine live in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is a constitutional lawyer, a writer, a businessman and serves as the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org). Fournier is a Catholic deacon and is currently completing the dissertation for a PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America. This information is provided for identification purposes only and does not imply any institutional endorsement.
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