By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. My family and I will be on vacation through September 7. I will occasionally add new items but for the most part we will repost “the best of the best” — the stories our readers have told us they especially liked over the last five months. This first ran August 12.
Anyone who’s read NRL News Today for very long knows I am an enormous admirer of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Although a Protestant myself, I learn something important about how to understand pro-life issues every time I read his column in the “Catholic Philly.”
With the 2016 presidential election rapidly approaching, I believe one of his columns from 2012 that I’d tucked away– titled “Public witness and Catholic citizenship”–would make for instructive reading.
Let me offer just two nuggets. The first will be the lengthiest:
“Public witness on issues of public concern is natural for Catholics because we have a commitment to the common good and to the dignity of each human person. Those two pillars — the common good and the dignity of every human person — come right out of Scripture. They underpin all of Catholic social thought.
“That includes politics. Politics is where the competing moral visions of a society meet and struggle. And since a large majority of American citizens are religious believers, it makes sense for people and communities of faith to bring their faith into the public square.
“As a result, if we believe that a particular issue is gravely evil and damaging to society, then we have a duty, not just a religious duty but also a democratic duty, to hold accountable the candidates who want to allow that evil. Failing to do so is an abuse of responsibility on our part, because that’s where we exercise our power as citizens most directly — in the voting booth.”
While Archbishop Chaput is writing specifically to Catholics, his admonition applies to members of all faiths. We have a dual duty to vote when we are convinced there is a grave evil, like abortion, that is injuring society: a duty as person of faith and a duty as a citizen in a democracy.
Second, he writes
“The ‘separation of Church and state’ can never mean that religious believers should be silent about legislative issues, the appointment of judges or public policy.”
A misunderstanding (usually deliberate, but not always) of that widely quoted phrase is used as a weapon to bludgeon people of faith, to intimidate them into remaining silent, perhaps to not even voting.
I hope you are busier than ever as the election approaches. Hard as it is to believe, the election is less than three months away.
Archbishop Chaput’s column can be enjoyed in its entirety here.