Catholics: Keep Your Opinions to Yourselves and Out of the Social Order

Catholics: Keep Your Opinions to Yourselves and Out of the Social Order January 13, 2023

Recently, I wrote a tribute to the late Pope Benedict XVI. Of all the quotes I listed, one stood out to me in a special way.

It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. …The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order. Speech at the United Nations, April 18, 2008

Where Does My Worldview Belong?

Moreover, as someone who writes a conservative Catholic blog, I often get pushback, sometimes from fellow Catholics, on where my Catholic views belong. The reader’s comment below reflects the Democratic party’s perspective regarding my Catholic views of marriage, human sexuality, and abortion:

The Democratic Party doesn’t really care about your beliefs on marriage, human sexuality, and abortion as long as you don’t try to control other people with them.

It appears that some, even within the Church, think that our Catholic views, especially on marriage, human sexuality, and abortion only belong within the walls of the Church. They agree with the Democratic party that I need to keep my views to myself and not “impose” them on others. In other words, my views have no place in building the social order.

Suppress a Part of Themselves

My Catholic faith is fundamental to who I am and how I view the world. Therefore, my faith also influences my politics and what I think is best for the common good, or the building of the social order. I cannot divorce how I view the world from how I vote or who I vote for. And, according to the late Pope Benedict XVI, nor should I. As an active citizen, I must use the wisdom gleaned from my faith to make the best possible impact for the common good of society.

Denial of God to Enjoy One’s Rights

Moreover, why must I deny my faith in order to enjoy my rights, particularly the right to vote? When a proposition comes up for a vote concerning issues like marriage, human sexuality, abortion, or anything contrary to my Catholic views, should I not exercise my right to vote in light of my Catholic convictions? Some will say, “why impose your Catholic views on others who do not agree with them?”

Well, why do those who disagree with my Catholic views attempt to impose their views, especially on modern sexual ethics (or lack thereof) on me? Why do they insist on using my tax dollars to fund abortion? Why do they prosecute nuns who refused, on religious liberty grounds, the Obama Care Contraceptive Mandate. How does it serve the common good to sue nuns who care for the dying and elderly to ensure they do not die alone? Again, how?

The Public Dimension of Religion

What does Benedict mean by “the public dimension of religion? In his Message for World Day of Peace 2011, Pope Benedict explained:

Religion should not be marginalized or prohibited, but seen as making an effective contribution to the promotion of the common good. In this context, mention should be made of the religious dimension of culture, built up over centuries thanks to the social and especially ethical contributions of religion. This dimension is in no way discriminatory towards those who do not share its beliefs, but instead reinforces social cohesion, integration and solidarity.

And

With due respect for the positive secularity of state institutions, the public dimension of religion must always be acknowledged. A healthy dialogue between civil and religious institutions is fundamental for the integral development of the human person and social harmony.

The common good requires the public dimension of religion. Western civilization, based in Catholicism, built our modern culture, culture that must value the dignity of the human person. The removal or segregation of religion to merely religious spaces place this value in jeopardy and contributes to social disharmony.

Believers Building the Social Order

Furthermore, since Catholicism played a crucial role building the social order in the past, it must continue to play a key role in conserving it. Believers must stand for the dignity of the human person in opposition to those who seek to undermine it. This means continued opposition, not only to abortion and euthanasia, but the denial of the human person currently underway in modern gender ideology.

Foundational to the social order is marriage. Believers must do all in their power to protect this most common of goods. Benedict makes the point clear in his Sacramentum Caritatis Exhortation. He states:

The good that the church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself.

A Catholic who fails to promote marriage’s true nature from misrepresentation helps to injure the fabric of society itself. Therefore, they work against the common good.

Final Thoughts

We as Catholics must promote the common good. This means we must also support laws and promote behaviors that help people live their best lives. This understanding of the “best life” is not merely subjective. Catholics believe in object truth and object morality. Therefore, the “best life” is objectively possible.

Catholics believe their view of sexuality and morality leads to the best and most healthy life. Pew Research Center confirm that those born in a household with a mother and a father have a significantly lower possibility of experiencing poverty, most likely to graduate high school, get a job, and get married themselves. This, in turn, contribute positively to society. Furthermore, the Catholic view on sexuality liberates people from the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. This, in turn, reduces abortions. Clearly, Catholic participation in the social order contributes to the overall common good of society. Not only do Catholic voices belong in the public square, the health of society depends on it.

The Final Word to Benedict XVI 

In conclusion, I give the final word to Benedict XVI.

Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.

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