Rick Santorum Takes on Jihadism, Showing Moral Coherence and Political Courage
"Culture of Death."
He also gave cover to countless Catholic politicians to be morally incoherent in their political participation for too many years. Senator Santorum's speech in Houston is the much needed and long overdue corrective. There is a political dualism too often touted in Republican circles - the idea that there are "social" and "economic" issues and they must be kept separate. In the run up to the 2012 campaign it is rearing its ugly head once again.
Santorum does not separate social and economic issues. He knows that the reason we should care about expanding economic opportunity is because we respect the dignity of every human person and want to expand participation. His advocacy of smaller government is not anti-government. He calls for the proper application of the principle of subsidiarity out of respect for the primacy of the family as the first society, the first government, the first church, first school, first economy and first mediating institution.
He rejects the idea that there is any true "right" to an abortion even if the positive law currently protects the act. Every procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life and the denial of the true Right, written in the Natural Law, the fundamental and inalienable Right to Life. He would place the respect for life front and center, using it as the lens through which every other issue would be approached.
He does not back away from controversy or opposition because he has real courage. That was demonstrated in January when he gave an interview to Terry Jeffrey of CNSNEWS.com entitled "Santorum Says He Agrees With MLK on Moral Basis for Human Rights; Can't Understand Why Obama Would Deny Them to an Unborn Child." In that interview he reiterated his belief in the Natural Law as the moral basis of a truly free society. His grasp of authentic Catholic social doctrine is refreshing - and all too uncommon among Catholics in public service.
In the interview, the Senator referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s reliance on the Natural Law in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Some in the media attacked Santorum and tried to paint him as a racist for even doing so. Some in contemporary political circles might have backed off, but the former Senator from Pennsylvania refused to back down. In that letter, Dr. King did indeed cite the Catholic Natural Law tradition to bolster his defense of fundamental human rights. As the day progressed the Senator stood his ground and responded to repeated efforts to smear him with these words:
"For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution. Today other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country."
This past weekend the Senator again demonstrated courage at the Strafford County Lincoln-Reagan dinner. Among the topics discussed was the threat of militant jihadist ideology. He said, "Jihadism is evil and we need to say what it is.We need to define it and say what it is. And it is evil. Sharia law is incompatible with American jurisprudence and our Constitution." Making reference to the hearings on the radicalization of some American Muslims held last week he noted that the majority of Muslims in the United States do not want Sharia Law in the United States. He said many left their home countries "because of Sharia law" and continued, "Sharia law is not just a religious code. It is also a governmental code. It happens to be both religious in nature and origin, but it is a civil code. And it is incompatible with the civil code of the United States." He is correct and his willingness to say it is refreshing.
Rick Santorum is a man of courage in an age of cowardice. In 1947, C.S. Lewis addressed the decline of Britain in an insightful book entitled "The Abolition of man: How Education Develops Man's Sense of Morality." He warned of the subjective and relativist trends in the British educational system and reasserted the timeless moral truths of Christianity. Lewis called for a return to the classical Christian vision of the human person and the cultivation of virtues as the path to true human flourishing and freedom. He defined what he called "the chest" in this work as the "higher emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments or character." He wrote that without this "chest", men and women devolve into self-idolatry, losing their human dignity and true freedom. They become slaves to disordered appetites.
The West is a mess, just as Lewis warned. With its decline we face the eclipse of true freedom. Lewis' words in this book are timely: "And all the time - such is the tragicomedy of our situation - we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive,' or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity.' In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."
Rick Santorum is a statesman in an age of salesmen - and women. He is a "man with a chest." I will be watching his movements over the next few months as one of the most important Presidential elections in American history begins to take shape.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Santorum, Rick Santorum, President Obama, 2012, Presidential race, election, Islam, Jihadi, Deacon Keith Fournier
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