Sunday, February 3, 2008

Religion and Politcs- 2008

Repetitive, I know . . .

It is worth a post, since I have been hammering away on the subject of politics, to draw attention to a very insightful article, which appeared recently in Catholic San Francisco, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, by Archbishop George Niederauer, our former ordinary here in Salt Lake City, on voting and the USCCB's newest iteration of their quadrennial Faithful Citizenship document.

Here is a sample of the archbishop's insightful teaching. He does a wonderful job of translating this well-written document into everyday language that helps us all bring our faith to bear on our society as Catholic citizens of this great nation:

"Q: What moves the Catholic Church to teach about political issues?"

"A: Jesus Christ in the Gospel teaches us about being fully human, about what is true and good in the sight of God. At the foundation of these truths is respect for the dignity of each person, created in God ' s image, and the value of each human life. The bedrock of Catholic moral and social teaching rests on the dignity and value of life and personhood. It is appropriate and necessary for Christians to bring and apply those essential truths into the public square. As Catholics we are called to promote the well being of all, to share blessings with the neediest in society, and to protect the lives and dignity of all, especially the weak, the vulnerable and the voiceless.

"In addition, Catholics bring important assets to political dialogue: a consistent moral framework based in human reason, the Scriptures and Church teaching, and broad experience in serving those in need. "

During the last presidential election another much circulated document appeared, Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics. This particular guide caused a lot of angst and confusion. Where the booklet veered off course, in my opinion, is by specifying five non-negotiables. While I have no dispute with the fact that the five things mentioned (i.e., Abortion, Euthanasia, Fetal Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning and Same Sex marriage) are vital issues facing our nation and ones on which the teaching of the Catholic Church is quite clear, it is oversimplified to the point of paralyzing the Catholic voter. This is why the USCCB document, while clear on these same issues, deals with the nuances of both the morality of exercising our right to vote and the political reality in these United States. After all, just think of being a Catholic voter in San Francisco or, for that matter, here in Utah, which is but the polar opposite of San Francisco. As temperate as Bishop Wester's remarks about immigration in a speech he gave earlier this week were, here they seen as radical.

So, my advice is to stick with what our bishops teach, to ask intelligent questions, to bring our faith to bear on our society in appropriate ways, and to exercise sound prudential judgments when casting our votes. Vote we must, it is our moral obligation. Access to the USCCB's document is only a click away.

I would also draw attention to a post, as Sharon has kindly done in the Cahiers Clips section of our blog, on our reading for the second meeting of our School of Community here in SLC last evening, which was Holy Father's wonderful homily from the Mass celebrated on the 850th anniversary of the Austrian shrine of Mariazell, which was the reason for his Apostolic Journey to that country. In this homily, Pope Benedict discusses some of the more fundamental issues for Catholics in the public square.

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