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Monday, March 13, 2006


USCCB - Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life
While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.
As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.

As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.
Essentially the Church says we have the right to form our own consciences as long as we're within the parameters the Church lays out. For example, while a no immigation policy would be against Church teaching, restrictions on it aren't. In fact, open borders would be acceptable under Church teaching. Almost any position other than a complete ban on immigrations would be acceptable under Church law as a result of the primacy of conscience.

If your conscience says something in direct flouting of Church teaching, your conscience is not properly formed and therefore you cannot appeal to primacy of conscience in support of that position. This is what the US bishops are reminding us in the document linked above. Opposition to laws to restrict abortion cannot be validly held by a Catholic politician due to the consistent statements of the Church that abortion is immoral.

The signers of the Democratic Statement of Conscience tried to pull a fast one; fortunately, the bishops didn't let them get away with it. Hopefully, people who read the initial statement will also read this one so they're not fooled.

Comments:
The bishops would do well to honor their commitment to dialogue they expressed in their statement. Rome and the American bishops in particular should observe a period of respectful quietude and introspection on moral issues after their shameful lapses in the priest abuse crimes. The letter from the Democrats is a long-overdue reminder to Church leadership that there are other moral issues besides abortion. This dialogue should occur and continue, and shame on Catholics who try to silence it with calls to orthodoxy.
 

I don't think you're aware of everything the bishops are doing on other issues. I mentioned immigration as an issue partly because that's an issue the bishops are working hard on right now. Last year, the bishops also kicked off a campaign against the death penalty. For some reason, the bishops have always been interested in farm policy. (I'm not criticizing you for not knowing this; the mainstream media really only talks about Catholics and politics when it comes to abortion. Their other efforts tend not to be discussed as much.)

When we issue calls to orthodoxy, it's a reminder to keep our views on moral issues within the realm of valid morality. That's why I pointed out that there's a range of acceptable positions on immigration: the best way of dealing with the issue is open to debate as long as proper principles are kept in mind. We don't have the same freedom on abortion because of the higher stakes: the deliberate taking of a human life.

To see some of the other stances the bishops are taking on other moral issues, go to http://www.usccb.org/index.shtml and click on the bottom three left hand menu options (Family & laity Issues, Life Issues, Social Justice Issues).
 

To see some of the other stances the bishops are taking on other moral issues

There's stances and there's stances. I'll believe the Church is serious about those "other" moral issues when I see my church forming outreach groups and auxiliary organizations to fight for the minimum wage (for example) or when they stick a "voter guide" on my windshield that.

In the meantime, it is no coincidence the MSM only picks up on the abortion issues and not the others. That's because the Church is not serious enough (in the political sense) about other issues.

The "culture of life" meme is in serious need of updating and explication to rid it of its ambiguity and omissions.

Based on the USCCB platform, Catholics should be working day and night against Bush and the Republican Congress.

By the way, I have undying respect for the USCCB's pushing back on Rome's 2004 request to deny communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians (and perhaps to voters as well). The bishops refused and pushed it back to the diocese, and Bishop Saltarelli pushed it back to the conscience of the individual, where it belongs.
 

oops...

or when they stick a "voter guide" on my windshield that lays out the candidates differences on recent wars.
 

1) Issues have different levels of importance. There is no way to claim that the minimum wage (for example) is anywhere near as important as the willful of an innocent human life.
2) The bishops did speak out against the war, but acknowledged that people could in good conscience disagree with them due to the fact that the Just War doctrine leaves much room for judgement calls by national leaders.
3) To the extent that the bishops issued a voter's guide in 2004, it was a multipage document that never mentioned any candidates. You might have received one from another Catholic group.
4) It's pretty clear from your latest batch of comments that you're really just asking the bishops to start endorsing the positions you already hold rather than seeking to understand why they teach the way they do. Bishops are bound by Tradition (with a capital T) and the teaching of the Church; Vatican II, Envangelium Vitae and many other Church teachings have always stated the Life issues are of paramount importance. (Read Evangelium Vitae if you're truly interested in understanding why we emphasize abortion. It states many times that abortion and euthenasia are especially great crimes.)
 

You are wrong to assume I am not familiar with Evangelium Vitae and other documents underlying the Church's life-related positions. I do not argue with those positions or those documents. However, those documents have been hijacked by elements in the Church who would extend them into the political arena more deeply than they appear to be intended.

Secular politicians (i.e., Republicans) have latched on to the absolutism of E.V. and abused Catholic moral reasoning to implement many policies contrary to Church teachings. In this sense the Church's moral absolutism has proved to be a weakness of the Church.

I do not think Evangelium Vitae was meant to push one evil out the front door while allowing a hundred other evils in the back door.

By the accumulation of all Church teachings, no Catholic can in good conscience vote for either a Republican or a Democrat. Yet my Church continues to find devious ways to take sides in the secular debate.

You and I are the rare Catholics who read the source documents. But for most Catholics, the local bishop and parish priest is where the rubber meets the road (so to speak). And I commend Bishop Saltarelli on his pastoral guidance.
 

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