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Forming consciences for Faithful Citizenship


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Forming consciences for Faithful Citizenship

  1. 1. U.S. Bishops’ Reflection on CatholicTeaching and Political Life
  2. 2.  In loyalty to their country and in faithful fulfillment of their civic obligations, Catholics should feel themselves obliged to promote the true common good. Thus they should make the weight of their opinion felt in order that the civil authority may act with justice and that legislation may conform to moral precepts and the common good.
  3. 3. THE APOLOGIST: A TRADITION OF ADVOCACY “[Christians] teaching is notbased upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely humandoctrine… They pass their daysupon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to thelaws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.” Epistle to Diognetus
  4. 4. • “In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.” (2011)Introduction
  5. 5. The Church and Political Life “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper….” Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est: #28 (2006)
  6. 6. The Church and Political Life  The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. …The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est: #29 (2006)
  7. 7. FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. #1783 - C a te c h i s m o f t h e C a t h o l i c C h u r c h ( 1 9 9 5 ) In forming one’s conscience please consider the following three principles  Intrinsically Evil Acts  Consistent Ethic of Life  Catholic Social Teachings
  8. 8.  The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: "Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of John Paul II: Veritatis homicide, genocide, abortion, euthan Splendor #80 (1995) asia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical Reason attests that there are and mental torture and attempts to objects of the human act coerce the spirit; whatever is which are by their nature offensive to human dignity, such as "incapable of being ordered" subhuman living conditions, arbitrary to God, because they imprisonment, deportation, slavery, p radically contradict the good rostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of of the person made in his work which treat labourers as mere image. These are the acts instruments of profit, and not as free which, in the Churchs moral responsible persons: all these and the tradition, have been termed like are a disgrace, and so long as "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them malum): they are such always more than those who suffer and per se… injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator".
  9. 9. CONSISTENT ETHIC OF LIFEAdopting a consistent ethic of life, the CatholicChurch promotes a broad spectrum of issues"seeking to protect human life and promotehuman dignity from the inception of life to itsfinal moment." Opposition to abortion andeuthanasia does not excuse indifference tothose who suffer from poverty, violence andinjustice. Any politics of human life must workto resist the violence of war and the scandal ofcapital punishment. Any politics of human dignitymust seriously address issues ofracism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholicsshould eagerly involve themselves asadvocates for the weak and marginalized in allthese areas. - USCCB: “Living the Gospel of Life” (1998)
  10. 10.  Life and Dignity of the Human Person Call to Family, Community, and Participation Rights and Responsibilities Option for the Poor and Vulnerable The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers Solidarity Care for God’s Creation
  11. 11. Human Life • Opposing Abortion, Euthanasia, and the Death Penalty • Genocide, torture, targeting of noncombatants in war or terrorism • Concern with Biotechnology: specifically the cloning and destruction of human embryos • Promoting Peace and the avoidance of war, concern about the preventive use of military force, Disarmament
  12. 12.  Definition of Marriage Policies to strengthen the Family: services, taxes, work/wages, i mmigration (family reunification) Protection of children: human trafficking, contraceptive mandates, Education: Right to choose a school Media impact: offensive material and violenceFamily Life
  13. 13. Social Justice  Dignity of Work: Employment growth, just wages, unjust discrimination, right to organize, economic freedom.  Human Services: Poverty reduction programs, Tax Credits, Social Security, Affordable Housing, Affordable and Accessible Healthcare, Food security (eg. food stamps), Circle of Protection Campaign  Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Dream Act  Criminal Justice system reform  Ecological concerns: sustainable agriculture, global climate change  Discrimination
  14. 14. Global SolidarityAlleviate Global Poverty Increased development aid, equitable trade policies, debt reliefDefend Human Rights Religious Liberty End the use of tortureSupport UN programs and reforms tostrengthen international bodies and law.Provide Refugee AsylumInternational leadership In addressing regional conflicts Peaceful solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflictRespond to the Human Consequences of War inIraq and Afghanistan
  15. 15. Do’s and Don’ts For Parishes PLEASE DO NOT…!!!   PLEASE DO…!!!  Endorse/oppose Political  Endorse/oppose Legislation and Candidates Referendum  Homilies/Bulletin inserts regarding  Homilies/Bulletin inserts on moral specific candidates issues  Distribute partisan or candidate  Provide educational material on rating material on Church property public policy issues  Arrange Groups to work for a  Organize Prayer services/vigils or candidate Novenas encouraging Faithful  Fund or support Candidates, PACs Citizenship. or Party  Encourage local legislative district  Invite Candidates to address your meetings with their elected official to Church sponsored group or host advocate on issues and legislation political meetings on Church  Encourage letter-writing/emails or Property phone calls with elected officials  Conduct partisan voter registration regarding issues and legislation  Share parish mailing lists to political  Conduct a nonpartisan voter parties or campaigns registration drive on Church property
  16. 16. Civil DiscourseO Catholics should try to O Ground Rules: cooperate with all men O Make sure everyone has an opportunity and women of good will to to speak promote whatever is true, O Share your personal experience not whatever just, whatever someone else’s. holy, whatever lovable (cf. O Listen carefully and respectfully. Do not Phil. 4:8). They should play the role of know it all, convincer or hold discussions with corrector. Dialogue is not a Debate. them, excel them in O Don’t interrupt unless for clarification prudence and courtesy, or timekeeping and initiate research on O Accept that no group or viewpoint has a social and public practices monopoly on the truth. which should be improved O “Be more ready to give a favorable in line with the spirit of the interpretation to another’s statement Gospel. (Apostolicam than to condemn it.” Actuasitatem #14) O Be cautious about assigning motives to another person.
  17. 17. Being a Faithful Citizen VOTE… (Make a Moral Decision) but don’t stop there! Develop an ongoing relationship with your local, state and federal elected official:  Visit, Write/email, Call (take copies of our “Contacting Your Elected Official” handout. Vote with your money.  Be a conscientious consumer  Be a socially responsible Investor
  18. 18.  Organize Prayer or Faith Sharing Groups related to Catholic social teaching Develop or join a Parish advocacy/social justice Committee o Organize a Parish Voter’s registration where you offer resources from the USCCB or NY State Catholic Conference (NYSCC) o Promote upcoming advocacy events like the: • Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (sponsored by the USCCB in Wash. DC) • Catholics at the State Capitol (sponsored by the NYSCC in Albany) o Take part in advocacy campaigns that are promoted by the USCCB • Respect Life Program • Poverty USA • Justice for Immigrants • Religious Liberty • Catholic Mobilizing Network to end the use of the Death Penalty • Catholic Coalition on Climate Change • Catholics Confront Global Poverty