Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/13/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This is no time to retreat from culture; we must work for its conversion by becoming men and women who influence it.

The men and women I met this evening confirmed my decision to recommit myself to helping lay Catholic men and women come to understand the treasury of the teaching of the Catholic Church on faithful citizenship and social responsibility, which includes political participation.Then, to do everything I can to encourage morally coherent people run for public office and help to get them elected. 

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/13/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: political participation, Catholics, political campaigns, common good, faithful citizenship, social doctrine, elective office, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I write from the Washington DC area after having just concluded  the first in a series of talks on Catholics and political participation for the Institute of Catholic Culture.

There was a large crowd. Many people stayed afterwards for ongoing conversation. They were eager to grow in understanding the implications of being a faithful Catholic citizen. What was crystal clear to me by the end of the evening was that we have the resources to prepare the kind of future political candidates this nation desperately needs in public office. 

Many of my readers have been asking the question, should we even bother with Politics? My answer is a clear - Yes!  Please, do not think I have one ounce of me naiveté left in me after all these years. I do not! However, I am convinced that Catholics, above all others, have an obligation to stay involved. To those to whom much is given, much is required. 

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, a brilliant work exposing the unseen spiritual warfare taking place around us through a series of letters between two demons - the older Screwtape, an instructor and the younger student Wormwood - CS Lewis wrote: 

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

In a sense, this is true of politics. Like many of you, I am still in recovery after the last electoral cycle, trying to make sense out of what is happening to this nation which we love. The temptation, so clearly present in our circles, is to fall into two separate approaches, both of which can lead to error.

One is to completely retreat from that area of culture and social responsibility referred to as politics. The other, is to pursue the path of the modern zealot or utopian and believe that politics alone can actually effect enduring change in the hearts of people and thus in the broader culture.
 
To paraphrase Lewis, The devils, so clearly active in the current political climate, "hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

In 1947, Lewis addressed the decline of his beloved Britain in an insightful book entitled "The Abolition of man: How Education Develops Man's Sense of Morality." He warned of the subjective and relativistic trends in the British educational system of the time. He reasserted the timeless moral truths of Christianity as the solution. 

He called for a return to the Christian vision of the human person and the cultivation of virtues as the path to true human flourishing and freedom.  He defined what he called "the chest" in this work as the "higher emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments or character."

He wrote that without this "chest", men and women devolve into self-idolatry, losing their human dignity and true freedom. They become slaves to disordered appetites.

Sound familiar?

The West is in a moral mess, just as Lewis warned. With its decline we face the eclipse of true freedom. Lewis' words in that book are timely: "And all the time - such is the tragicomedy of our situation - we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive,' or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity.'

"In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

We are living under what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, properly called a "Dictatorship of Relativism" in the West. Relativism is a philosophy which says there are no truths. The culture stumbles, drunken on the false notion of freedom divorced from norms to guide the exercise of human choice and govern our behavior.

When there is nothing objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life then there is no foundation for a truly free society. We teeter on the brink of anarchy precisely because we have lost our moral compass as a Nation.

We are accused of being against progress and anti-science for defending the dignity of every human life - including the lives of our first neighbors in the womb. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are Pro-life because it is right. In an age deluded by the architects of a cultural order of death we must never compromise on the truth concerning the dignity of every human life from conception through natural death.

Science confirms what our conscience confirmed, those little girls and boys in the womb are our neighbors. It is always wrong to intentionally kill our innocent neighbors. To say and do otherwise is barbaric.

We insist that true marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. That is because they have. Truth does not change, people and cultures do; sometimes for good and sometimes for evil. Marriage is the first society into which children are to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities.

We must not be afraid to make the claim that children have a right to a mother and a father. They do. Of course we care about the single parent family and the many broken homes. However, their existence does not change the norm necessary for a stable and healthy society.

In tact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order. We need to be a visible, palpable reflection of this truth about marriage and family in our own lives. To live a faithful marriage is now countercultural.  Our convictions and claims concerning life and marriage are not outdated notions of a past era but provide the path to the future.

We insist upon the existence of a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. This is not only a Christian position. It is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built. It is the source for every great and authentic human and civil rights movement. The Natural Law gives us the moral norms we need to build societies and govern ourselves. It must also inform our positive law or we will become lawless and devolve into anarchy.

Two years before becoming Pope, Karol Cardinal Wotyla spoke to the U.S. Bishops. His observation was republished in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 1978: "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully."

"We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church must take up."

And take it up we have. However, there is much, much more to do. The ground has shifted and the struggle is intensifying. Our cultural mission lies at the heart of what it means for us as Christians to be leaven, light, salt and the soul of the world.

This is no time to retreat from culture; we must work for its conversion by becoming men and women who influence it. What is needed are Christian men and women of courage who are morally coherent and do not separate their faith from their participation in every aspect of culture, including political participation.  We must work for its conversion by working for the conversion of hearts as well as the transformation of structures which promote the true common good. 

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a directive instruction in 2002 entitled a "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." It called upon Catholics to be "morally coherent" in the exercise of their citizenship and in their political participation.

The men and women I met this evening confirmed my decision to recommit myself to helping lay Catholic men and women come to understand the treasury of the teaching of the Catholic Church on faithful citizenship and social responsibility, which includes political participation.

Then, to do everything I can to encourage morally coherent people run for public office and help to get them elected. 

Please visit the Institute of Catholic Culture here

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

WSJ exposes secret tax Obama has imposed on EVERY HOUSEHOLD in America - and yes, you have to pay! Watch

Image of Government regulation is a stealth tax on the economy costing $1.9 trillion annually.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Wall Street Journal has exposed one of the greatest problems of the Obama administration and how its behavior is hurting the economy. While most would be quick to cry corruption, the reality is far more mundane and at least as dangerous. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Ron Paul says he will not pay IRS fine against his non-profit org Watch

Image of Ron Paul suggested his group will fight the IRS if they attempt to enforce a fine against Campaign for Liberty.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty, a nonprofit political group, has been targeted by the IRS. The IRS has demanded to see the group's donor list, a demand the group has refused to meet which has led to a fine. The organization now says it will not pay the fine. LOS ... continue reading


Report says Christianity should be taught Watch

Image of Religions place in public education is a hotly debated issue for Americas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is commonly, though wrongly, accepted knowledge that public school teachers are not allowed to teach the Bible, biblical values, or Christian history in public schools. It is a debate that dominates every part of life, from a single household to the federal ... continue reading


Obama has proposed 442 tax hikes since taking office and you won't believe what he could tax next! Watch

Image of Obama has proposed hundreds of tax increases and more could come within the last two years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama has attempted 442 tax increases during his six years as president so far, and more are likely to come as the administration looks for ways to pay for their proposals. According to Americans for Tax Reform, the numbers suggest why it's important to have ... continue reading


Hey Eric Holder, where are the special prosecutors? Watch

Image of Hey Holder, why won't you answer simple questions?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At several federal judges said last week that in their professional opinion, Attorney General Eric Holder has exceeded his authority by giving federal prosecutors "improper instruction" to reduce drug sentences prior to official approval of new guidelines. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Corruption runs deep - Ranking member of Committee asked to explain 'surreptitious communication' with IRS Watch

Image of Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has suspicious contact with the IRS. He has also resisted efforts to compel Lois Lerner to testify.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is asking its ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) why he had surreptitious communication with the IRS over a group that received unlawful IRS scrutiny. The committee says the public deserves a "full and truthful explanation" ... continue reading


Attorney General Eric Holder lashes out Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Attorney General Eric Holder has been under some intense, unflattering scrutiny as of late, stemming from the "Fast and the Furious" debacle. Holder went "off script" during a speech given at the National Action Network. While lauding the organization's effort ... continue reading


House Republicans contemplating jail for Lois Lerner Watch

Image of Lois Lerner could go to jail if she refuses to cooperate with investigators.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Republicans are contemplating the arrest of Lois Lerner for contempt in the event the Attorney General, Eric Holder refuses to act on their findings. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to investigate whether or ... continue reading


Attorney General Eric Holder gets 'ghetto' during hearing Watch

Image of Attorney General became angry and slipped into colloquial speech during a hearing with Representatives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Attorney General Eric Holder might not be in contempt of a Congressional hearing, but he certainly behaved contemptuously in our opinion, when he was questioned as to why his department could provide documents to terrorists and their attorneys but not congress. After ... continue reading


Your government at work: Feds ATTACK lone cattle rancher with army --to protect a tortoise Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy is under siege on his cattle ranch by a small army of federal agents, over a tortoise and unpaid grazing fees.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A shocking paramilitary action in unfolding in the high Nevada desert pitting the Feds against a lone rancher and his cattle herd. It's the stuff of fiction, but it is happening right now and the U.S. government doesn't want anyone to know what they are doing. LAS ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter