The November election this year is more or less around the corner. While we as Catholics see ourselves as "American" as any other person in the Nation, we are challenged more. Of all the Christian communities, the Roman Catholic Church has been clear and definitive with great courage and boldness to stand up and be counted rather than accommodate to the prevailing culture at the risk of becoming no longer faithful to our sacred tradition and values. The Holy Scriptures, our 20 centuries of lived experience of the Christian faith, and the foundational belief that Christianity is a religion that is revealed by God rather than the handiwork of human beings.
Certainly many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters have similar values and similar beliefs. But from a public leadership perspective, the Catholic Church has spoken out more than any other and for that has taken much heat and criticism. Yet, also much praise and respect.
Are we Catholics living in America or simply Americans who just happen to attend a Catholic Church? In which camp do you feel you find yourself? I don't think that is an incidental question. I wonder how many of us have thought of our citizenship from that perspective? This natural tension between the dual citizenship of Church and State demands that we make a choice.
Marriage as a sacred relationship between a man and a woman is not a position of bigotry or insensitivity. It is upholding the nature and purpose of marriage as revealed to us. It is a covenant of which God is a participant - not a contract that can be terminated at some point. But, the full participation of each partner, male and female, is essential.
Life as a gift rather than a choice. Human life is the most awesome and complex of all God's creation. It is to be protected as sacred. Such laws are not an attack on women but rather the highest respect and honor a society can give to all women. Our future as a human race depends on how the innocent and most vulnerable as in the unborn child and the frail elderly among us are treated. To pass laws that protect human life from conception in the womb until natural death has been shown to be best for the common good of all since the right to life trumps the right to choose. If we do not hold human life to be sacred in all its stages, everything else is devalued. Do we want to live in a society that sees even the defenseless child as an inconvenience, a burden, or a threat to over population? Think of what China has found due to their one child only policy.
Religious Freedom, protected in our First Amendment, is not to be tampered with. The Catholic Church is not asking for special treatment. It is asking that, along with all other religious bodies in this Country, we be given what we have always enjoyed since this Nation was founded. That 1st and most fundamental Amendment establishes an acceptance that the values it protects are those which are beyond politics. The HHS mandate that we pay for that which is contrary to our moral beliefs is coercion by the federal government and totally unncessary in light of other options that are available.
We are called to vote from a higher moral conscience. Let's all think and pray over it very, very carefully. Don't be in a hurry to vote and give yourself some time to think this through.