Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila on Voting as a Catholic in 2016
“Everyone at the table knew well the teaching of the Church on life and the dignity of life. They knew that Catholics in good conscience cannot support candidates who will advance abortion.”
“The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter.”
“There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching. The health of our nation depends on a deep respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and the future of our society depends on how we protect that right.”
“Some, both in politics and in the Church, have stated that it is the Church that needs to change her teaching to include abortion, same-sex unions, and even euthanasia. Yet, in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel and to Sacred Tradition, the Church cannot change her teaching on these issues without denying Christ. She would cut herself from the vine and only wither away, as promised by Christ. The further we move away from Jesus Christ and his teachings, the more will our churches empty. We are where we are today because too many Catholics and other people of faith have embraced the ways of the world and not the ways of Christ. They have not served as leaven that transforms society, but rather have condoned evil and the throw-away culture that Pope Francis frequently reminds us to reject. When we fail to do this, the government will step in to fill the void. Indeed, the government will become “god” and impose its beliefs on the citizens.”
“We are witnessing the dictatorship of relativism and the erosion of true freedom. And as Pope Francis often preaches, the devil gets in the mix quickly, especially when people no longer believe in God.”
“So my advice to Catholics in voting in this presidential election is to first look at who forms you and your conscience. Is it your personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the Church, the voice of God which cannot contradict the truth or revelation, or is it the ideology of some political party? Secondly, look at how you have been a leaven in society. How have you sought the common good and the values of the Gospel, especially by serving the poor, the needy, the unborn and the dying.”
“Thirdly, look at how each party platform supports human life from conception through natural death, the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience, the family, and the poor. Finally, do vote, as every Catholic has an obligation to participate in the political process. For many, the presidential election will involve a choice between the lesser of two evils. On the Colorado ballot, we will also face the evil of physician-assisted suicide, known as Proposition 106. In conforming our hearts and minds with the Gospel and its clear teaching on life, all Catholics are called to vote “no” on this issue. A “yes” vote only furthers the throw-away society, and the culture of death. You will be hearing much more on this in the days and weeks ahead. Let us keep our country and state in our daily prayers, praying for God’s protection and blessings in these challenging, difficult times in which we live. And let us in charity pray for the conversion of those who support a throw-away culture of death!”
Death gives way to eternal life, if we are prepared. Flower gives way to seed. Seed gives way to new sprout…This is a time of endings and beginnings and through it all we are called to be habitually in a state of readiness.
Catholic social teaching gives us a vision of the world as it could be and as it should be. The world as God created it to be.
The Most Reverend José H. Gomez is Archbishop of Los Angeles. Foreword from pastoral letter Catholics in the Public Square by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most radical doctrine in the history of ideas. If the world believed what Jesus proclaimed—that God is our Father and we are all brothers and sisters created in His image with Godgiven dignity and a transcendent destiny — every society could be transformed overnight. Of course, human sin and weakness always stand in the way of God’s beautiful plan for creation. Every structure of social injustice starts in the hearts of individuals. Societies do not sin, people do. So for Catholics, social reform means more than raising consciousness, expanding opportunities, and building new programs. Those things are necessary. But true justice and lasting peace require the conversion of hearts and the renewal of minds. The Catholic vision is spiritual not political. Catholics belong first of all the “city of God.” But we have a duty to build up the “city of man,” to correct injustices and seek a world that reflects God’s desires for His children — what Jesus called the kingdom of God and the Apostles called the new heaven and new earth. The Church articulates universal principles that are rooted in the laws of nature and that reflect the wisdom the universal Church has gained in more than two thousand years of serving people under many different nations, cultural realities, government systems, and economic orders. The motive and measure in everything we do is our concern to promote the flourishing of the human person. Our principles drive us to work for justice and the common good, to protect the vulnerable and lift up the weak, to promote freedom and human dignity, and to prefer remedies that are personal, local, and small-scale. In twenty-first century America, the Church confronts a highly secularized and ethnically diversified society shaped by the economic forces of globalization, a technocratic mentality, and a consumerist lifestyle. Our society is centered on the individual self — with an often exaggerated preoccupation for individuals’ unlimited rights and their freedoms for self-definition and self-invention. Happiness and meaning in American life are defined increasingly according to individualistic concerns for material pleasure and comfort. And we see many signs that, as a people, we are becoming more withdrawn from our communities and from the duties of our common life. More and more we seem less able to have empathy for those we don’t know. Pope Francis speaks of the “globalization of indifference” to suffering and cruelty in the world. And he is on to something. In America and abroad, the people of our globalized society seem to tolerate a growing list of injustices and indignities. To name just a few: widespread abortion; the “quiet” euthanasia of the old and sick; birth control policies targeting the poor and “unfit”; racial discrimination; a widening gap between poor and rich; pollution of the environment, especially in poor and minority communities; pornography and drug addiction; the death penalty and scandalous conditions in our prisons; the erosion of religious liberty; and a broken immigration system that breaks up families and leaves a permanent underclass living in the shadows of our prosperity. The Church’s social teaching “speaks” to all of these issues. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, an essential resource, is nearly five hundred pages long. But in the face of so many daily injustices that cry out to heaven, we can feel tempted to compartmentalize our compassion, to draw up lines of division about who and what we will care about. For decades now, we have accepted a basic “faultline” in the Church’s social witness — between selfdescribed “pro-life” Catholics and those who consider themselves “peace and justice” Catholics. This is a false divide and one that is a scandal to Christ and the Church’s faithful witness in society. God does not see the world through the limitations of our political categories of “left” and “right,” “liberal” and “conservative.” He is our Father and He sees only His children. When one of God’s children is suffering injustice, He calls the rest of us to love and compassion and to “make things right.” Our concern for human dignity and life can never be partial or a half-measure. How can we justify defending the dignity of some and not others or protecting God’s creation while neglecting some of His most vulnerable creatures? In some Church circles today we are seeing a return to the vision of a “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life.” Advocates have noble intentions — they want to bring the Church’s moral wisdom and passion for justice to bear on a broad range of urgent issues. They recognize that the Church’s social witness must be founded on our common responsibility to defend the gift of human life at every stage and in every condition. In practice, however, this line of thinking can lead to a kind of moral relativism that renders serious social issues as more or less equivalent. Setting priorities and frameworks for decision-making becomes an arbitrary, sometimes partisan exercise in political calculation. A broad desire to promote the integral development of the human person leads to obvious and crucial agenda items: abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, global poverty and the related issues of migrants and refugees, and climate change. Each of these realities of our world represents an affront to human dignity and threatens the sustainability of by The Most Reverend José H. Gomez is Archbishop of Los Angeles social order. But the hard truth is that not all injustices in the world are “equal.” Perhaps we can understand this better about issues in the past than we can with issues in the present. For instance, we would never want to describe slavery as just one of several problems in eighteenth and nineteenth-century American life. There are indeed “lesser” evils. But that means there are also “greater” evils — evils that are more serious than others and even some evils that are so grave that Christians are called to address them as a primary duty. Among the evils and injustices in American life in 2016, abortion and euthanasia are different and stand apart. Each is a direct, personal attack on innocent and vulnerable human life. Abortion and euthanasia function in our society as what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “structures of sin” or “social sins.” Both practices are sanctioned by the law of the land and supported, promoted, and even paid for as part of government policy. Abortion has become a part of mainstream health care and one of the “freedoms” that Americans presume. Euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide is fast gaining that same status. Both practices are zealously defended by our society’s elites — those who shape public opinion and civic morality through government, the popular media, and education. Our society’s elites tell us that abortion and euthanasia are private, deeply personal matters that ulti- (see World God Created, p. 4)
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