Charles J. Chaput: The Homicides Involved in Abortion Are 'Little Murders'
People who claim that supporting an outspoken defender of legal abortion is somehow "prolife" are just wrong.
The following is condensed and adapted from an address Charles J. Chaput delivered at an ENDOW (''Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women'') dinner, October 17.
"Before I begin, I need to say what a friend of mine calls my ''Litany to the IRS.'' Here it is. I'm not here to tell you how to vote. I don't want to do that, I won't do that, and I don't use code language - so you don't need to spend any time looking for secret political endorsements.I plan to speak candidly, but I can only do that if you remember that I'm here as an author and private citizen. I'm not speaking for the Holy See, or the American bishops, or any other bishop, or even officially for the Archdiocese of Denver. So the things I say are my personal views, nothing more. I think they're pretty solidly grounded in Catholic teaching and the heart of the Church, but it's your task as Catholics and citizens to listen, evaluate and then act as you judge best.
As adults, each of us needs to form a strong Catholic conscience. Then we need to follow that conscience when we vote. And then we need to take responsibility for the consequences of the vote we cast. Nobody can do that for us. That's why really knowing and living our Catholic faith is so important. It's the only reliable guide we have for acting in the public square as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Render Unto Caesar
So let's talk for a few minutes about my recent book Render Unto Caesar. When people ask me about the book, the questions usually fall into three categories. Why did I write it? What does the book say? And what does the book mean for each of us as individual Catholics? Why did I write this book, now? One answer is simple. A friend asked me to do it. Back in 2004, a young attorney I know ran for public office as a prolife Democrat. He nearly won in a heavily Republican district. But he also discovered how hard it can be to raise money, run a campaign and stay true to your Catholic convictions, all at the same time. After the election he asked me to put my thoughts about faith and politics into a form that other young Catholics could use who were thinking about a political vocation - and it really is a ''vocation.''
That's where the idea started. But I also had another reason for doing the book. Frankly, I just got tired of hearing outsiders and insiders tell Catholics to keep quiet about our religious and moral views in the big public debates that involve all of us as a society. That's a kind of bullying, and I don't think Catholics should accept it.Another reason for writing the book is that when I looked around for a single source that explains the Catholic political vocation in an easy, authentic and engaging way, it just didn't exist. So I thought I might as well try to write it, because a friend told me it would ''practically write itself.''
So what does the book say? I think the message of Render Unto Caesar can be condensed into a few basic points.
Here's the first point. For many years, studies have shown that Americans have a very poor sense of history, and that's very dangerous, because as Thucydides and Machiavelli and Thomas Jefferson have all said, history matters. It matters because the past shapes the present, and the present shapes the future. If American Catholics don't know history, and especially their own history as Catholics, then somebody else - and usually somebody not very friendly - will create their history for them.
Here's the second point. America is not a secular state. As historian Paul Johnson once said, America was ''born Protestant.'' It has uniquely and deeply religious roots. Obviously it has no established Church, and it has non-sectarian public institutions. It also has plenty of room for both believers and non-believers. But the United States was never intended to be a ''secular'' country in the radical modern sense. Nearly all the Founders were either Christian or at least religion-friendly. And all of our public institutions and all of our ideas about the human person are based in a religiously shaped vocabulary. So if we cut God out of our public life, we cut the foundation out from under our national ideals.
Here's the ...
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