Skip to comments.Forming the Consciences of Catholic Voters
Posted on 09/12/2007 1:33:38 PM PDT by pgyanke
Note: I just mailed this letter to my bishop with a copy for my parish priest and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. I hope to energize the Church... truly it is the one organization that can single-handedly save this country from its folly and do so by simply standing up for its values.
I have redacted identifying information for the bishop. I don't want to make this a personal issue about him.
My family and I attended the Rally for Life last fall. During the event, I couldnt shake the realization that our attendance was more a futile gesture than a governmental engagement. While its true that we have the constitutionally-recognized right to peaceably assemble and petition our government, the power for change is exercised at the voting booth. Sadly, half of Catholics nationwide (including those who regularly attend Mass) vote for those who have implemented and sustained the abortion industry in this country.
I sent you an email prior to the recent November election through a link to your secretary online (printed and enclosed). My hope was that you would take notice of the policies of the political parties and help to form the consciences of Catholic voters. I noticed there was no impact on the preaching from the pulpit. Until I subsequently found your instructions to the parishes, I didnt understand your position. From your letter:
Materials that indicate an endorsement of one candidate or political party over another, or even imply it, are prohibited. To do so may jeopardize the Church's tax-exempt status on the parochial and/or diocesan level, which would seriously compromise our responsibility to protect the generosity of all the faithful. This would result in fewer funds being available to promote the good works of the Catholic Church.I understand the fear for any church when it comes to its tax-exempt status. However, can it be any clearer that the Church in America has allowed Herself to be bullied into silence on some of the most fundamental issues of our day? When I had this discussion with a friend (who is a priest), he pointed out that the Church cant get into politics. The problem is that the reverse is occurring with greater frequencythe politicians are stepping into the Churchs territory and the Church is ceding the ground. Until the last 30 years, it would have been unheard of for our clergy to think of themselves as having a muted voice regarding the sanctity of life! However, now they are muzzled and must not openly mention which politicians and political parties their congregations should shun. We hear that abortion is evil and it must be stopped, but we are not told who champions this evil and how we can stop them. Outside of the worship and the Sacraments, is there a greater work of the Church than standing for the truth and opposing evil?
There is only one major political party that supports abortion (including publicly-funded abortions).
There is only one major political party that supports homosexual marriage.
There is only one major political party that supports publicly-funded embryonic stem cell research. This political party made this one of the cornerstones of the first 100 hours in the new Congress.
There is only one major political party that has threatened the tax-exempt status of Christian churches ¹. Notably, this challenge has been politically one-sided as Democratic candidates routinely visit churches during their campaigns to gain advantage while any opposing political action in churches is condemned.
Tax-exempt status is predicated on seven activities religious organizations must perform in order to qualify. Im sure you are very aware of the seven. Are you aware, though, that the next challenge to our tax-exempt status is likely to come when same sex marriages are the law of the land? The provision THE ORGANIZATION MUST NOT ENGAGE IN ILLEGAL ACTIVITY OR ACTIVITY CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY has been largely directed toward racial discrimination and advocacy for the violent overthrow of the government. When the time comes, the Churchs stance on same sex marriage could easily be the new argument for pulling our tax-exempt status. The silence of the Church doesnt protect her tax-exempt statusHer silence threatens it!
Our silence as a Church is permitting the scourge of abortion and a host of other sins to plague our world. This silence isnt ensuring our health as an organization, either. The fastest growing congregations in the world (this country is no exception) are those that are taking a hard line for the truth, even in the face of danger. Rather than hurting the Church by speaking out, I believe you would strengthen the Church beyond your imagination by taking a strong stand. I, for one, would fight tooth and nail to ensure the solvency of my parish in the face of governmental intrusion. You would find that Im not alone.
In ten of the most populated states, Catholics comprise greater than 1/3 of the total population (including key states New York and California). Overall, we Catholics make up approx 25% of the total population of the United States. Considering that most elections are decided with only 50-60% of eligible voters actually participating, there is no reason the Church should find its values opposed in our government!
Laws are a moral exercise expressing the moral fiber of the nation. Concern over our tax status shouldnt blunt the Church in its mission of forming the consciences of its members. There is no greater decision made by a congregation as a group than choosing political representatives. While I dont advocate for the Church to hold bake sales promoting their choice of candidates, Church leaders should consider it a sacred duty to inform their flock of the wolves in wool. Failing in this duty gives us what we now seeCatholics actively supporting candidates who claim solidarity while opposing their morality.
Catholic voters have had their recent generations indoctrinated by the media (in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee, the ACLU, et al) into believing the Democratic Party is the Catholic party of John F. Kennedy. A compliant clergy in their home districts, administering the sacraments to politicians who take public positions contrary to their espoused faith, enables this fiction. Only the education, ministry, and voice of the Church can correct this lie. Please dont allow so many to flounder for the sake of appeasing the government which continues to make war on us. Our ecclesiastical hierarchy should be at the forefront of denouncing those politicians who call themselves Catholic to garner our votes yet publicly promote policy positions anathema to our Church. Notable among these are John F. Kerry (who admitted during his second debate with George W. Bush in 2004 that under his administration public funds would have supported abortions) and Nancy Pelosi (who is the Speaker of the House pushing legislation legalizing same sex marriage and federal funds for embryonic stem cell researchand has been one of the most ardent Congressional supporters of abortion). In open scandal, Pelosi was publicly administered the Eucharist during a Mass at Trinity University in January in celebration of her elevation to Speaker of the House. It was a media-orchestrated event!
I dont expect that you have the authority in such matters outside of your diocese. I think it would help the faithful, though, to hear denunciations of open scandal. There are scores of Catholics in this country who do not support the Church financially, many who do not attend Mass regularly, and others who even doubt their own faith. Why? Fundamentally, the root cause is a lack of leadership. If the Church isnt scandalized and opposing those who openly sin and claim ecclesiastical support ², then the faithful have reason to doubt the faith and conviction of their Church leaders.
The collective silence of the Church in the 2006 election took one of the single greatest arrows from our quiverjudicial nominations. In the face of a Congress unwilling to criticize and rein in an out of control judiciary, the nomination of Constitutionalist judges was key to overturning the landmark abortion case Roe vs Wade. The Democratic takeover of the Senate last year essentially assures that President Bush will make no more replacements on the Supreme Courtdespite expected vacancies. Although untested in this area, his selections of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito appear to be steps in the right direction. When our Constitution is strictly adjudicated as written, the right to life is assured.
Throughout Church history, the members of her hierarchy have had to educate the ruling elites and nobility regarding ethical and compassionate governance. In this country, that education is better directed at the voters who choose their representatives in government. When we give to Caesar what is Caesars, it is important to remember that in this country, we are Caesar. We wont win our fight against the evils of abortion, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia demonstrating on the grasses of the square. We will win when our priests have the courage and authority to denounce the elected officials and political parties who champion these programs.
A simple reading of the major party platforms shows which party deserves to be rejected by Catholics with formed consciences. You dont have to endorse one party to point out the flaws of the other. You dont have to take direct advocacy of any position other than that of the Church and Her Teaching Authority. If either major party believed they risked alienating 25% of the voting population, they would be more mindful of their policiesand conform. If the Church would focus Her efforts on real change through thorough voter education, we would be able to devote more time and effort to worship and works of mercy rather than holding impotent rallies to protest public policies which should never have been.
I would welcome the chance to discuss this with you more, as your schedule permits.
Respectfully and prayerfully,
Parishioner, My Church
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Email to Friends and Family
1. www.lifesite.net, Friday April 21, 2006 Howard Dean to Churches: Give up Religion or Stay out of Politics to Keep Tax Exempt Status
2. www.lifesite.net, Tuesday, January 16, 2007 HLI Leader Says: "I don't believe Archbishop Wuerl is doing his job"
Dear Family and Friends,
We are headed into a contentious and consequential election. Although we would all like to look at our elected representatives as individuals and not make decisions based on party affiliation, I feel the need to share some basic truths about the parties that you may have overlooked in your individual focus. It is a fact that the victorious representatives will in all likelihood vote for their own party leadership in Congress. Therefore, a vote for a Republican is a vote for Republican leadership and a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Democratic leadership--Nancy Pelosi would be second in succession to the Presidency. Additionally, a vote for a Republican enables the GOP platform to find its way into public policy while a vote for a Democrat is a vote for their party platform to carry the day.
Please take a few minutes to read what I have compiled below. There are five moral issues enumerated in "The Voters Guide for Serious Catholics" that are considered non-negotiable by the book's researchers. The write-ups on the particular issues are taken from their guide--with embellishments by me in some cases. I'm sure that my Protestant friends will recognize that we don't disagree much on these issues. The additional work I have done is to research the party platforms in relation to these issues. Note that the party platforms change at the parties' national nominating conventions when they choose their presidential candidates. Therefore, the current platforms are from the 2004 election cycle.
When reading below, remember: a vote for a Democrat is a vote for their national platform...
According to the Church, abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide. The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others' sins.
2004 National Democratic Party Platform:
Page 38, para 4: "Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare."
2004 National GOP Platform:
Page 84 (under the primary heading "Promoting a Culture of Life"): As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life."
Page 25: "Republicans continue to oppose the ideological campaign against participation by the Vatican in United Nations conferences and other activities. The United Nations was created to benefit all peoples and nations, not to promote a radical agenda of social engineering. Any effort to address global social problems must be firmly placed within a context of respect for the fundamental social institutions of marriage and family. We reject any treaty or convention that would contradict these values. For that reason, we support protecting the rights of families in international programs and oppose funding organizations involved in abortion."
Often disguised by the name "mercy killing," euthanasia is also a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person. In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person.
2004 National Democratic Party Platform is silent on this issue.
2004 National GOP Platform:
Page 84: "We oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment because of disability, age, or infirmity, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which especially endanger the poor and those on the margins of society."
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo". Recent scientific advances show that medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells have not shown promise. Rather, scientific work with adult stem cells have shown promise in treating 72 conditions--without doing harm to another human being. There is no valid argument (neither moral nor scientific) in favor of using embryonic stem cells. Even if there were, it would still not justify destroying one group of humans to cure another.
2004 National Democratic Party Platform:
Page 31, para 5: "President Bush has rejected the calls from Nancy Reagan, Christopher Reeve and Americans across the land for assistance with embryonic stem cell research. We will reverse his wrongheaded policy."
2004 National GOP Platform:
Page 67, para 1: "We strongly support the President's policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to encourage the future destruction of human embryos. In addition, we applaud the President's call for a comprehensive ban on human cloning and on the creation of human embryos solely for experimentation."
4. Human Cloning
Attempts... for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fission', cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union. Human cloning also involves abortion because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.
The 2004 Democratic Platform is silent on this issue. The GOP Platform is not, as shown in the previous section.
5. Homosexual "Marriage"
True marriage, as ordained by God at our creation, is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.
2004 Democratic Party Platform:
Page 38, para 7: "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families."
2004 National GOP Platform:
Page 83: "We strongly support President Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.
"After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. The Constitutional amendment process guarantees that the final decision will rest with the American people and their elected representatives. President Bush will also vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which was supported by both parties and passed by 85 votes in the Senate. This common sense law reaffirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states."
Although the guide from which this information is culled extols its readers to not choose a candidate based on party affiliation, I think you can understand my reasons for using it in this way. Your vote will help determine the agenda this country will pursue... and which party platform will set that agenda. This election is too important to the future of our country! The next Senate will either consent to President Bush's Constitutionalist judicial nominees or block them until the next administration is sworn. It will either promote our Christian values or oppose them.
In addition to what I have written here, I encourage you to review your state party platforms. Here is the contrast in North Carolina:
NC Democratic Party Platform includes the following: "We believe that we should focus on preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion through increasing access to family planning services, access to affordable birth control including emergency contraception and by providing comprehensive age-appropriate sex education. Furthermore, abortion must be safe, legal, accessible to all North Carolina women regardless of ability to pay; therefore, the State abortion fund should be fully funded and accessible to indigent women.
NC GOP Platform includes the following:
Article I: Family
2. The ideal environment for raising children is a two-parent family where a husband and wife live in harmony in one home. We support all reasonable efforts to help families remain intact. We praise the courageous efforts of single parents who work hard to provide stable homes. We recognize that single parents often succeed and that two-parent families sometimes fail.
3. We believe homosexual behavior is not normal and should not be taught as an acceptable "alternative" lifestyle either in public education or in public policy. We do not believe public schools should be used to teach children that homosexual behavior is normal. We do not believe that taxpayers should fund benefit plans for unmarried partners. We oppose special treatment by law based on homosexual behavior or identity. We support federal and state constitutional amendments to ensure that marriage is limited to the union of one man and one woman. We oppose attempts to legitimize homosexual relationships by placing such relationships on an equal footing with marriage. We oppose the adoption or foster parenting of children by same sex couples.
Article IV: Sanctity of Life
2. We believe unborn children have constitutional rights to life and liberty, and we therefore urge the Supreme Court to overturn its decision in Roe vs. Wade. We also support the adoption of a human life amendment to the constitution. We stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose efforts to mandate legalized abortion or to fund local, national, or international organizations that provide or promote abortion services. Abortion is never an acceptable method of birth control.
"The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights--for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture--is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" -- Pope John Paul II, "Christifideles Laici"
"While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (before he was Pope Benedict XVI)
Encourage your bishops, priests and pastors to educate their flocks. Then think... and pray... before you vote.
Hopefully, this letter will provide you with some ammunition when dealing with the clueless.
For your ping lists...
unfortunately, the Catholic Church has decided that increasing the number of illegals from the southern border is more important than the sanctity of life. They are looking to increase the number of catholics in the US despite ignoring the ones who are already here.
Our Bishops are men. I defer to them heavily on Church and theological matters. When things get political, they can get confused as well as the rest of us. It's incumbent on us who are devout and politically-savvy to help them sort it out... that's what I'm trying to do...
As you say, it’s a bit long, which may work against it. But word for word it is excellently done. If I took out my red pencil I don’t think I could find any use for it.
What you say is absolutely true and vital.
If the Church stood up to its true self, it would certainly revitalize itself and draw more people in. Any people who were driven out by this would be people who were already Catholics in Name Only. The Pelosis and Kerrys in the Church need to be confronted for their own good and their possible salvation, and not to do that for them, or for their less famous followers, is to neglect one of the basic roles of a bishop or a pastor. Salvation of souls requires speaking the truth fearlessly.
I also believe that if the Church did this, fearlessly and with unity, the IRS would and the politicians would be forced to back down. Since when is it impermissible to speak the truth? And the truth is that the Democrat Party is, as you say, the only major party that supports abortion, cloning, fetal stem cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the legalization of sexual perversion as a form of marriage. The Church has a perfect right to point this out, since the souls of its members who vote for these politicians are being put at risk, as they continually act in complicity and enable those who commit these grave evils.
Wow - a very excellent and well-presented letter.
“truly it is the one organization that can single-handedly save this country from its folly and do so by simply standing up for its values.”
As far as the “values” you list as your concerns, the Catholic Church surely shares and supports them and is “standing up for” them,
(1) it (the Catholic Church) is not alone with regard to supporting those values, not even among churches,
(2) it is not “single-handedly” standing up for them,
(3) it cannot “single-handedly” successfully advance their support, particularly when, in truth, politicians who self-identify as “Catholic” are most often NOT among those who WILL defend those values (the Catholic church’s teaching on them falls on deaf ears, more often than in “Conservative Protestant” churches)
(4) advancing those values alone, and nothing else, will not “save this nation from its folly”, in general,
(5) in many other ways, the Catholic church does not advance many of this nations primary values but actively opposes them, in doctrine and in practice (as in a socialist form of government).
So, I honestly do hope you the best, and every success, in getting the Catholic Church to improve its active and public support for the values you listed, as all moral Christians should, but forgive me for my disbelief that even the success of your effort would mean that the Catholic Church will “single handedly” restore the values of this nation because the limitations of what you seek and its limited venue will never do that and can never do that (single-handedly restore the values of this nation).
Too many of our sacred values, as a nation, are left out of your goals for them to be given the unqualified label of “the sacred values” of the nation, and your venue, the Catholic Church, does not even support all the sacred values of our nation - our freedom from unlimited government to start with.
1. I never said the Church was alone in its values.
2. You're right, it isn't single-handedly standing up for its own values right now... I didn't say it was. That's the purpose of the letter.
3. Actually, if you had read the letter, you would have found that the voting population is 25% self-described Catholic. If the Church were to successfully form the consciences of its membership, it could very well single-handedly correct these injustices.
4. We'll have to agree to disagree. These are fundamental problems that without solution will destroy this nation. Everything else is open to debate.
It is clear from your post that you didn't read the letter. Thank you for taking time to post here. If you will take a little more time, I would be interested in your response to the words I have written.
Thank you for your very kind words. May God bless our efforts.
We now have a list of non-Catholic Catholics like Kerry, Kennedy, Pelosi, Daschle, and on and on and on. They do a great disservice to the church, opposing the Church on abortion, marriage etc.
The Bishops are Democrats and to them the end justifies the means. The Catholic Church is Socialist and supports Illegal Immigration, ACORN, Union thugs etc. They do little to reform or disown Kennedy and his followers.
May as well be honest. That does not mean the Church is wrong, it is the leadership. They will die some day and may pay a terrible price.
That is the point of the letter... the fact that the Church has not been active in teaching the congregations about their political choices. I’m endeavoring to change that. Copies of my letter went to my priest, the USCCB, friends who are priests around the country (including in the Bay Area) and monasteries.
The road we are on is as you described it... the RINOs neutralize the Sanctity of Life language in our party platform. After all, those who champion the “life issue” split their vote anyway... where are they going to go?
If the Church will engage, we will get the attention of those who seek elected office. From there, we don’t have to shun the Democrats forever... when they reform, we can consider their other policy issues. THAT’s how public engagement works... you want my vote, you stop opposing my values then we’ll talk. As I said, there is no reason the Church should find her values opposed in our government except for Her own self-imposed silence.
If Catholics were as solidly Republican as white Baptists, then New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts would be among the most Republican states in the nation. If only it were true.
No, I read the letter.
But, respectfully, the “catechism” does not “repudiate” socialism (it only repudiates “godless” dictators), in fact the current Pope has directly noted how he feels more common ground with western Europe’s socialists than America, preferring the greater interference of their socialist governments in economic matters that we allow here.
In my close reading of Marx and the totality Catholic social-economic doctrine, the only distinction is that the Catholic Church would prefer, ideally, to see its local priests as the leaders of the cadres, its bishops as the vanguard of the proletariat and its cardinals as the politburo. Forgive the rest of Christianity for not agreeing, having recognized that socialist political parties and/or socialist political thinking dominates wherever local Catholic churches and or Catholic education dominates in the west. That is not an accident.
If you're going to play the role of a keyboard expert on the internet regarding the Catechism, at least put forth the effort to read it, gomer. Unless of course you enjoy looking like a fool.
2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with "communism" or "socialism." She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.206 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market."207 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.
Just a note... that's what this letter is about. Cheers!