Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Father, Some Advice

We have a letter from St. Monica’s in Oakland addressed to the Holy Father. It has some beautiful paragraphs, but look at the rest of the letter:

“Your encyclical (Deus Caritas Est) explains how love embraces the whole of existence in each of its aspects, including time. Love in all its forms gazes at the eternal.” The area presenting the greatest breadth of opinion was the relationship between the Church’s social teaching and political life. American Catholics live in a nation that is politically and religiously diverse. The U.S. Constitution guarantees there will be no state established church and that citizens are free to practice their religion. Catholic politicians must wrestle with how to live their faith publicly and apply the Church’s teaching on disputed questions of public policy.

“… some bishops in the United States stated that the vote of a Catholic legislator on particular pieces of legislation should exclude that individual from reception of communion. The individual Catholic faces a like dilemma, but in the voting booth.Given our prayerful discussion, it was felt that before any bishop should respond in any punitive manner, there is in charity the responsibility to listen and understand the situation of a particular politician. Broad based sanctions were felt to be more harmful and misunderstood than beneficial and reconciliatory. The treatment of statements from certain bishops by mainstream media, led to confusion and misunderstanding by Catholics, and Americans in general.

"These statements not only reflect upon the faithful of a local church, but also upon Catholics across the United States. Our gathering felt it appropriate to remember the words of Thomas a Kempis: ‘In things essential, unity; in doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.’”

My dear friends of St. Monica, are you blind to the non-negotiables of our Catholic position? We can argue on lots of issues concerning social justice: just war, just wage, just penal sentences, etc. When it comes to the moral principles there are no negotiables that Catholics, including politicians, can accept. Bishops have listened and certainly understand the position of politicians. They should proclaim the truth from the housetops: Abortion is always wrong. Mercy killing can never be permitted. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Same-sex marriage is a travesty. All these are things in the essential that Thomas a Kempis speaks of. They are not “doubtful,” so liberty is not to be given. Yes, charity in all things. Not giving the Eucharist to politiciams who deny the truths of their faith is charitable, because it prevents scandal and sacrilege. If there is confusion and misunderstanding among Americans, it is because we have denied the truth, not followed the Holy Father and have not made our position clear.

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