We live at a time when extreme moral decadence and a loss of the sense of evil and sin coexist with technological advances unprecedented in history. If not contained within proper moral limits, this very progress can turn into catastrophe.
In the coming elections, many initiatives are being put to the vote which will address moral aberrations such as abortion and homosexual “marriage.” Others will address ethical issues involving biotechnology calling for the destruction of human embryos for cloning or embryonic stem cell research.
Such initiatives find support in activist judges and liberal legislators determined to impose this anti-natural agenda on the nation.
In face of this situation, a question arises as to whether Catholics can remain passive in the present cultural war or if they must take a stand consistent with their faith in defense of morals.
This is followed by another question as to whether a passive Catholic who does not put his faith into action, refuses to witness to truth, and fails to show interest in the common good and the eternal destiny of his fellowmen can still consider himself Catholic.
Indeed, these are questions that Catholics are asking themselves as the mid-term elections approach. In addition to choosing candidates who will decide upon these and other momentous issues, people in some states will be asked to vote on constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Another state, Missouri, is asking its citizens to enshrine in its constitution a measure permitting the cloning and destruction of human embryos for stem cell research.
In some dioceses, many Catholics rejoice seeing that their bishop has made a clear statement reminding Catholics of their obligations in these matters. Moreover, such pronouncements are multiplying across the nation, encouraging Catholics, giving them momentum, and reinforcing their convictions to stand firm for their faith in the public square.
In the short space of this article, I intend to give readers a quick insight into some of the many statements, without delving into exhaustive detail. Appropriate links, however, are being provided for those readers interested in the full statement or document.
1. “Catholics in the Public Square” – Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix
Bishop Olmsted has published a hard hitting brochure titled “Catholics in the Public Square.” He deals not only with the elections but also with the vocation and role of Catholic laity in the Church and in the State. He shows that out of fidelity to the general calling to holiness, lay Catholics must take an interest in public life and impregnate it with the values of the Gospel.
However, this may not be done only passively. Rather, Catholics must act and struggle to defend moral values, be it as politicians, or by promoting events, influencing policy decisions and forming a culture based on morals and the good of souls.
He clearly recalls that one must not receive Holy Communion if one is not in the state of grace. In the case of politicians who promote or defend abortion and contraception or violate Catholic doctrine on marriage, he says they are “not only causing scandal” but “sinning” and therefore may not receive Communion unless they go to confession and make public amends.
“Why does the Church set such high standards for Catholics?” he asks. The answer is found in the words of the Savior: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. … What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (John 14:15; Mark 8:34-36).
For the full statement, visit: //www.basilicapress.com/olmsted.htm
Bishop Olmsted was joined by the other two ordinaries of Arizona in a joint pastoral statement publicly endorsing Proposition 107, which amends the Arizona state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That statement can be read, at: //www.diocesephoenix.org/ElectionPDF.pdf
2. “How would Jesus vote?” – Bishop John W. Yanta of Amarillo, Texas
This direct question is asked by Bishop Yanta in his October 16, 2006 pastoral letter. He answers it with precision:
“You know how Jesus would vote.
“The first obligation of civil authorities is to establish laws that reflect and protect proper moral order. If the governing authority attempts to impose a law contrary to the moral order, then the citizens have a moral obligation to seek to try to change the Law. If that fails, they should refuse to obey such a law.”
The norm, both for those who must vote as well as for Catholic politicians is this: “Fidelity to baptism and the other 6 sacraments. Fidelity to the Ten Commandments. Fidelity to the Church and its teachings.”
The full text of Bishop Yanta’s pastoral letter, can be found at: //www.amarillodiocese.org/.
3. Cardinal Francis E. George and the bishops of Illinois
In their statement, “Elections, Conscience and the Responsibility to Vote,” Cardinal George of Chicago, the other five ordinaries, and the auxiliary bishops in the state of Illinois remind Catholics that they must cast their vote “in accordance with [a] conscience formed by the Catholic faith. For Catholics, it is a matter of faith that the authentic moral teaching of the Church is true.”
The right to life, they reiterate, is a “non negotiable principle.” Accordingly, “Catholics should always vote for that person most committed to being a public servant dedicated to the common good. This being said, it should be noted that any candidate who supports a public policy where part of humanity (such as the pre-born, the elderly, the handicapped, or the sick) is excluded from the protection of law and treated as if they were non-persons is gravely deficient in his or her view of the requirements of a just society.”
The full statement of the Illinois bishops can be read at: //www.catholic.org/…=3727
4. Marriage is bound up with our understanding of creation — the bishops of Virginia
In their joint Pastoral Letter titled “The Institution of Marriage and the Common Good: a Pastoral Letter of the Virginia Catholic Bishops,” Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington remind Catholics that: “Marriage, properly understood, was built into our nature right from the beginning. In fact, our understanding of marriage is bound up in our understanding of creation itself….. In our ever-changing and increasingly complex society, the Genesis story brings us ‘back to the basics’ by reminding us that marriage had a design and purpose long before any nation, religion, or law was established. Even before Christ elevated marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament, it existed as the human and social institution upon which civilization is structured.”
For the full text of the Virginia bishops’ pastoral letter, visit:
Read it in Spanish, at:
5. In Colorado, the bishops urge support for traditional marriage and rejection for civil unions and domestic partnerships
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver was joined by the two other ordinaries of the state of Colorado in a joint statement urging Coloradans to vote responsibly in November. “Defending marriage is not primarily a ‘religious’ issue. On the contrary, it is a matter of common sense serving the common good. Protecting marriage serves all Coloradans, whether they have religious beliefs or not…. Any attack on the identity of marriage and the family undermines society itself.”
They urge the faithful to vote “Yes” to amend the state’s constitution, defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In addition, the bishops “strongly urge” Catholics to vote “No” on Referendum 1 which “begins the dangerous process of establishing domestic partnerships as an equal and parallel institution to marriage. This inevitably undermines the privileged place of marriage and the family, and cannot serve the common good of Coloradans in the long run.”
The full text of the statement can be read at:
6. The beginning of a human life and Missouri’s Amendment 2
In his October 27, 2006 regular column for the St. Louis’ diocesan newspaper, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke wrote forcefully against the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of cloning. He reminds everyone that the Church, in accordance with natural order and Revelation, has always struggled to preserve life. Responding to attempts by the proponents of somatic cell nuclear transfer to portray Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine as being on the side of the culture of death and in favor of human cloning, Archbishop Burke writes that the teaching of the Church has not changed, and that if there were doubts in the past as to when life actually started, that was due to a lack of scientific knowledge on embryology. “If Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas were alive today, they would accept the findings of contemporary embryology. Having the evidence from science that the twenty-three matched chromosomes – the complete genetic identity of a human being – are present from the moment of fertilization… they would hold that from that moment, true to the natural law, human life must be safeguarded and fostered.”
Archbishop Burke’s entire column is available at:
7. Bishop Paul Swain – beginning his leadership
Newly ordained Bishop Paul Swain began his leadership of the Sioux Falls, S. D., diocese with a statement supporting the state’s ban on abortion which will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.
“I’m proud to say that the first vote I will cast as a South Dakotan will be yes for Referred Law 6,” Bishop Swain said, during his speech following his consecration as bishop on October 26.
Referred Law 6 is the bill to ban all abortions in the state. Bishop Swain also said he would vote for Constitutional Amendment C, which explicitly defines marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman (The Argus Leader, 10/27/06).
Click here for details. //www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/oct/06103007.html
In closing this quick insight, it is impossible not to rejoice at the initiative of these prelates to state the Church’s position clearly on such important and momentous issues. The bold stand of these bishops reminds us of Saint Paul’s solemn admonition to Timothy to preach the Gospel, even in face of adversity: “I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season and out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy, 4:1-5).