"Faithful Citizenship" reissued, with new introduction

This just in, from the USCCB:

A new introduction to the U.S. bishops’ document on political responsibility reminds Catholics that some issues “involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified,” while others “require action to pursue justice and promote the common good.”

The brief Introductory Note to the 2011 reissue of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” was signed by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of nine USCCB committees. It was approved by the bishops’ Administrative Committee at its mid-September meeting and made public Oct. 4.

The introduction says that “Faithful Citizenship,” one in a series of documents that have been issued before every presidential election for nearly 35 years, “has at times been misused to present an incomplete or distorted view of the demands of faith in politics” but “remains a faithful and challenging call to discipleship in the world of politics.”

“It does not offer a voters guide, scorecard of issues or direction on how to vote,” the introduction adds. “It applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to ‘conscience’ to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.”

The introduction lists six “current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions:”

— Abortion “and other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick or unwanted.”

— Conscience threats to Catholic ministries in health care, education and social services.

— “Intensifying efforts to redefine marriage” or to undermine it as “the permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman.”

— An economic crisis that has increased national and global unemployment, poverty and hunger, requiring efforts to “protect those who are poor and vulnerable as well as future generations.”

— “The failure to repair a broken immigration system.”

— “Serious moral questions” raised by wars, terror and violence, “particularly the absence of justice, security and peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.”

Read more.

Check out the USCCB website for the document itself.

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2 responses to “"Faithful Citizenship" reissued, with new introduction”

  1. Since so few Catholics were familiar with the 2007 text, perhaps the bishops figured nobody would notice that they were recycling. But I doubt bringing it back untouched will stir up any more interest.

    I personally like the current text–even used it as the basis for a website I developed–but I don’t think it is short enough or focused enough to engender the kind of discussion Catholics need to have about politics in America. In particular, I think it ought to make it clear that our civic responsibility does not end with whatever candidate selections we make at voting time. That mindset accounts for much of the partisan divide among American Catholics. Instead, we need to press our issues continually with politicians of both parties, particularly those who boast that they share our faith whenever they think it will gain them some advantage.

  2. We had a meeting this evening to discuss this document with 18-33 year old group which totals about 60 souls. I acted as moderator along with two Dominican Priests invited as guests. So when I arrived home and found this, thought I would post how this meeting went.

    After the two Dominicans reviewed the intro, they presented overview on the document itself which of course was a recycled version of the same document. Many were disappointed since so much has happened since the last election.

    The first question/response from the group was a young lawyer who is also in the Third Order of Dominicans and well versed in Catholic teaching. He said “my response to this document is a word I hate to hear from kids..”Whatevveeer”.. They say this word when they believe they have heard someone in authority spouting off something that has taken up time for no useful purpose.”

    Another commented that he observed that “the intro was signed by each committee chairman and thus the catagories seemed to be one for each committee rather than listed by those with the greatest intrinsic evil. For example, abortion is listed first which is good, but then it is watered down with discussion about the unwanted WHATEVER that means. It would be like God gave us the ten commmanments saying thou shalt not kill, but adding something about you can ignore this grave evil if you support government welfare programs for the unwanted or thou shalt not steal, unless you have the government steal from one group by force to give to another with your supporting votes.”

    Another added she saw the same thing with immigration. She noted the document said “failure to repair a broken immigration system with comprehensive measures that PROMOTE TRUE RESPECT FOR THE LAW. She asked how does promoting ILLEGAL imigration show any respect for the laws of the country. She noted that the country had already allowed over 10 million Illegal immigrants under Reagan to gain citizenship with the idea that the federal government would protect the borders. Now we have 12 million more. She read the Cathecism second part on immigration which is often left out of discussion on this issue…

    “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

    After a few hours of heavy and often heated discussion, the meeting ended with a concencus that the USCCB docment was indeed a product of committees and offered little true direction for Catholics. The group decided that they planned to create a document based on solid Catholic teaching for the parish and to have meetings throughout 2012 around the political debates for those who wanted more information on various positions of the candidates.

    In closing, one of the Dominicans read a letter sent to the USCCB by the Cardinal Ratzinger in his position as head of Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith. Our current Pope had this to say..

    “The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it”

    “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of PROPORTIONATE reasons.”

    The priest then went over what the Church looks upon as proportionate reasons.

    At no time was a politician or party mentioned, only Church teaching around various issues. I found it very interesting that they all seemed to have a great interest in knowing what the Church actually taught on each subject.

    Why was this old lady at the meeting…I am the one who founded the group and I am viewed as its honorary grandma since most of them are the ages of my grandchildren. We started it a couple years ago after the death of my granddaughter and great grandchild in an abortion mill. However, this is a wide ranging group with many different issues and concerns beyond abortion, but all see abortion as does the letter above from our now Pope Benedict XVI. I wish every parish in the USA had a group like this one dedicated to the Catholic Church and living their faith. One final point. When this group meets, we have to have a very extended sitting service because those married in this group have a whole lot of kids, just like Christ desires.

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