Though I know you are probably just as tired of it as I am, it is important that amidst all the political manipulation we do hear the voice of the Truth and what the Church has to say about all of this.
A few years ago I was blessed to visit Rwanda with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). I learned about the genocide that happened there in 1994. In a matter of 90 days over a million people were murdered. This happened in a country that was 99% Catholic. It happened because people were so manipulated by their government that they came to believe that the Tutsis were not people but cockroaches, and they needed to be exterminated. I couldn’t believe anyone would let this happen... let alone Catholics. As I left that country I made a promise to God that if I ever experienced anything like that I would pray for the courage to speak out. It was shortly after I returned to America that I realized we, whether we realize it or not, are in the midst of a holocaust. We are giving up our religious freedom and we are allowing the innocent to be murdered. Every year 1.6 million babies are murdered in their mother’s womb, in America.
As we prepare for this upcoming election, one of the documents we are all supposed to read is “Faithful Citizenship”. Though I think we have tried to make it accessible, I realize that most Catholics have not read it. When I asked at mass how many had read the document, out of the 500 in attendance, 4 people raised their hand. So I kind of get the impression you probably haven’t read it... and I understand Church documents can seem pretty hard to read, but If you have not read it I encourage you to do so.
In the Gospel today is this very strong warning from Jesus:
We have a millstone at the yard of our Amherst, City Hall... my pastor pointed out that that is what will be tied around my neck if I teach the wrong thing. So here you have the teaching of the Catholic Church on the gravity of voting with our Faith.
In particular, our Conference is focused on several current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions:
[Note that there are six highlighted issues in descending order, the church always lists the most important items first]
• Continuing destruction of unborn children through abortion and other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick, or unwanted;
• Renewed efforts to force Catholic ministries—in health care, education, and social services—to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need;
• Intensifying efforts to redefine marriage and enact measures which undermine marriage as the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one woman and a fundamental moral and social institution essential to the common good;
• An economic crisis which has devastated lives and livelihoods, increasing national and global unemployment, poverty, and hunger; increasing deficits and debt and the duty to respond in ways which protect those who are poor and vulnerable as well as future generations;
• The failure to repair a broken immigration system with comprehensive measures that promote true respect for law, protect the human rights and dignity of immigrants and refugees, recognize their contributions to our nation, keep families together, and advance the common good;
• Wars, terror, and violence which raise serious moral questions on the use of force and its human and moral costs in a dangerous world, particularly the absence of justice, security, and peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.
So we all want the same thing right? We all want a country where we can be free and prosper, and God wants this too. We will generally get our country there by doing good and avoiding evil. It’s that simple. However, in order to get there we need to have “well-formed” consciences, deformed consciences will only lead us to do evil and avoid good. The truth is we all need the formation because we are all sinners.
Aided by the virtue of prudence in the exercise of well-formed consciences, Catholics are called to make practical judgments regarding good and evil choices in the political arena.
There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others” (Living the Gospel of Life.)
It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.
This is an important and bold point - our legal system is fundamentally flawed with regard to abortion. The document goes on to point out the complexity of all of the issues mentioned above. However, one issue, at this time, far outweighs the rest. Remember we are talking about 1.6 million abortions EVERY year! This is a devastating number. For every 100 babies that are conceived 33 of have been aborted. That means one out of three babies are aborted. Half of the women in our country have aborted the child in their womb. While voting is a complex issue, the gravity of this situation makes it somewhat black and white.
Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
Are you getting the seriousness here? A Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for someone who advocates an intrinsic evil such as abortion, unless there is a truly grave moral reason to do so. Our current president has radically and forcefully advanced abortion in our country (especially with the Abortifacients included in contraception being provided as health care), he has also taken great advances to deny our religious freedom. Therefore, it is very evident that he has not only spoken but acted consistently against life and freedom of religion. The idea is... is that if you still intend to vote for him you better have truly grave moral reasons to do so.
As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate's position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter's support. Yet a candidate's position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.
The idea here is that we should not be single-issue voter for example voting for one of our presidents because we like an issue that they support, however we can legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support if they are for an intrinsically evil act, especially if that act is clarified by our bishops as being of grave, widespread, current and fundamental . Our current president has given us all the evidence that we need to disqualify him from receiving our support.
Human life is sacred. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or in any condition. In our society, human life is especially under direct attack from abortion.
Our Church, instituted by Christ, is warning us that human life is especially under direct attack from abortion. Now you can try and argue any way that you want to avoid this... what about Death penalty? The most death penaltys per year we have ever had in our country is 98 in 1998 . Is that important? Should it be stopped? Yes! but does 98 even compare to 1.6 million? What about war? Time magazine just reported that we now lose more soldiers to suicide than we do to casualty. The average is about 1 per day. Is this a horrible tragedy? Yes! But can you compare 343 to 1.6 million? How much have the other presidents done to reverse this? It may not have been reversed entirely but progress has been made to delay women from having abortions, waiting a certain time period before making the decision, excluding late term abortions, whereas our current president has pushed the line of late term abortions, reversed a great deal of progress, and now wants to provide abortion inducing drugs as health care. What about poverty? This too is important, however there are more in poverty after four years of presidency and an additional 15 million on food stamps since Barack Obama took over. All of these issues are important, however none of this compares to 1.6 million infants murdered in the womb every year! We will all have to answer to God for allowing this in our country for far too long. If you vote for a candidate that endorses abortion you better have very good evidence and reasoning that what they will do is going to be worth allowing abortion to continue to increase and our freedom of religion to be taken away! These are the threats we face, they are real, they are happening and we have been far too silent!
Human Life 64. Our 1998 statement Living the Gospel of Life declares, “Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition for all others” (no. 5). Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed.
We also promote a culture of life by supporting laws and programs that encourage childbirth and adoption over abortion and by addressing poverty, providing health care, and offering other assistance to pregnant women, children, and families.
Keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems—a million abortions each year to deal with unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of illness and disability, the destruction of human embryos in the name of research, the use of the death penalty to combat crime, and imprudent resort to war to address international disputes.
The second concern that the document mentions and the last I will focus on is the attack against religious freedom in this country. Our current president has stopped all dialogue with our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is pushing forward on the advance of the Health Care Campaign without regard to our religious freedom. This has been a serious concern in our country, and again something that we have been far too silent on for too long.
We hear in the first reading from the book of numbers:
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
We have been blessed with a prophetic leader in Cardinal Dolan, who has consistently tried to dialogue and work with our President in order to protect our religious freedom. The conversation has broken down. Would that all of our priests and bishops spoke out has he has!
I’m going to mention him in a moment, but first here is an article that portrays the reality of how absurd our country has become in restricting our freedom of religion.
By Father John Flynn, LC
ROME, SEPT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org). - Two recent reports on religious liberty have amply documented the challenges believers face in practicing their faith.
The Texas-based Liberty Institute recently published “The Survey of Religious Hostility in America.” The introduction affirms that the Founding Fathers considered religious liberty as the “first freedom.”
“They understood that one’s right to worship God and follow his conscience according to the principles of his religious faith was foundational to civic tranquility,” the introduction stated.
The report went on to detail threats to religious liberty in such areas as the public display of nativity scenes, memorials to soldiers, and prayers at legislative assemblies. It noted that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has mandated that funerals for veterans at national cemeteries be completely secularized, even when the veteran or his family expressed a desire for a religious funeral.
The opposition to any form of religious expression goes to such extreme lengths as the case of Jonathan Morgan, a third-grader in Plano, Texas, who was told by school officials that he could not include a religious message in the goodie bags that he was bringing to the “Winter Party” to share with his classmates.
Then, there was the case of a Houston-area school district that banned any religious content in the Christmas and Valentine’s Day cards. The report said that: “When one student was asked what Easter meant to her, she was told that she could not say, “Jesus.”
Another case was that of an eleven-year-old student in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who was penalized for mentioning Jesus in a Christmas poetry assignment. His teacher asked him to submit a rewrite of the poem.
Work-related cases were also numerous. A Mount Sinai Hospital nurse was forced to participate in a late-term abortion against her conscience and religious convictions. She was threatened with termination and loss of license. The nurse lost in both the district court and the Second Circuit, the report noted.
The report contains brief summaries of hundreds of cases over the last two decades of attempts to silence any religious expression in the public square of religion.
Regions of the world
No less than 75% of the world’s population “lives in countries where governments, social groups or individuals restrict people’s ability to freely practice their faith,” the report stated.
Can’t we see that our freedom is being taken from us? The church is aware that there is a direct attack by our current President and his administration on our freedom to practice religion.
Here’s from an interview with Cardinal Dolan about President Obama:
Are you impressed with him? Yes. He’s very shrewd, including his approach to religion. One of my fellow bishops worries that in Obama we now have a “theologian-in-chief, a new national pastor, and the new patriarch of the Catholic Church in America. He’s deciding Catholic teaching, rather than the bishops.” Obviously, for the bishop who was telling me this, it wasn’t intended as a compliment, but more as a complaint that Obama has managed very successfully to divide the Catholic voice in America. That may be pushing it a little bit, but I do think we have a very clever president.
It's time for us to be united. The current president is aggressively pushing forward restrictions to religion as well as aggressively advancing abortion in this country. He has not only stated it but he has acted on it. This is a grave and serious matter.
I want to end by saying that if you have had an abortion, know that you are still loved by God and the Church. There is healing available. If you have assisted with an abortion or have committed one yourself know that confession is available. There is no unforgivable sin. And you will find in the Sacrament an unconditionally loving God who can forgive any sin. You will hear the words of Christ’s absolution spoken through the lips of the priest and you can relieve yourself of such a great burden. For more help and healing visit my blog or if you want to review how to go to confession click here.
May we take these words from the book of Numbers to heart:
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"