News from the Trenches Editor’s note:
The following is part of a transcript of a lecture – “Rendering unto Caesar: The Catholic Political Vocation” -- delivered by Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on Monday, Feb. 23, at St. Basil’s Collegiate Church on the campus of the University of Toronto, which was published on the archdiocesan web site.
This short quote from the lengthly magnificent speech of the Archbishop gives clear indicaton of what tolerance is not. (A subject dear to my heart, and so misunderstood!)
"Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws. Here’s an example.
"We need to remember that tolerance is not (my emphasis) a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty – these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square – peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.
"Here’s the fourth point. When Jesus tells the Pharisees and Herodians in the Gospel of Matthew (22:21) to “render unto the Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,” he sets the framework for how we should think about religion and the state even today. Caesar does have rights. We owe civil authority our respect and appropriate obedience. But that obedience is limited by what belongs to God. Caesar is not God. Only God is God, and the state is subordinate and accountable to God for its treatment of human persons, all of whom were created by God. Our job as believers is to figure out what things belong to Caesar, and what things belong to God -- and then put those things in right order in our own lives, and in our relations with others."