On Faithful Citizenship

On Faithful Citizenship November 4, 2014

Today, November 4, is Election Day in the United States.  This is a public service announcement reminding all of our American readers who are registered to vote to please vote today.  From our bishops we have this timely prayer:

Lord God, as the election approaches,
we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country,
and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.
We ask for eyes that are free from blindness
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.
We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,
Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment
so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,
live your love,
and keep in the ways of your truth
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.


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  • Reblogged this on Highland Church of Christ Texarkana and commented:
    Especially Christians

  • Tanco

    Blah blah blah. Here is the proposed version that was scrapped at the last minute:

    Lord God, as the election approaches
    deliver American Catholics to the Holy Republican Party.
    et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      I think that is unwarranted. With a handful of obvious exceptions, the bishops are a bit more complicated and nuanced than that.

      • In my humble opinion, starting with the Affordable Care Act, the bishops care not a bit that that the piece of legislation provides so much good to children by way of preventive medicine, vaccinations, good nutrition; prenatal care to pregnant women, kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure, etc., etc. But what do the bishops focus on? The reproductive aspect of the Act. So let’s throw the baby out with the bath water instead of trying to work out a way to keep the benefits to so many others and satisfy their moral stance. The same is their crusade against homosexuals. There is no “nuance” there or anywhere. Yes, they are complicated by choice to muddy the waters and stir up their cold-hearted supporters in the pews spewing disgusting penalties for same-sex partners, their children and their families. And then, the bishops, after roiling up the reactionaries, invoke loving the sinner not the sin, respecting and treating with dignity all people. Please. And what about how they are treating the nuns? Is that also nuanced and complicated? And what about the firing of homosexual teachers from Catholic schools? Another definition of nuanced and complicated? I need to buy a new and revised version of Merriam-Webster.

        • Dante Aligheri

          At least regarding the Affordable Care Act, it is publicly out there in the USCCB documents that the bishops have in fact supported universal health care for a long time, even prior to the Obama administration. So, no, they are very much against “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” I agree that the bishops at times have not done a great job getting Catholic Social Teaching out there, especially to libertarian or right establishment Catholics, but I don’t think you can say that the bishops themselves are the Republican Party at prayer.

          With regards to the nuns, what do you want them do? Personally, I think they have been very generous in this regard. All they did was a visitation which drew up a report and stopped the publishing of a few theologians. Those theologians were teaching supporting panentheistic theology while relativizing the place of Christ – basically, consciousness raising sessions, in the extreme cases – and, not to mention, supporting issues that everyone knows is against basic moral teaching. By being nuns, they agreed to support the Catholic Church and support her tradition. If one was running a business and found employees who tried to usurp that philosophy at every turn, does the owner not have the right and obligation to deal with it in a manner he or she sees fit? Nobody has been harmed in any way except prevented in their teaching capacities. The CDF has called this “dialogue” with LCWR. Personally, I find that generous because that implies they in fact exist on equal terms when in reality they do not – the LCWR not being a canonical body separate from the Church.

          This last one you mention – namely, homosexuality and Catholic education – is particularly relevant to me as I am a teacher myself. I will only say that you seem to dismiss their strident critiques of homophobic violence too quickly. Again, what more do you expect them to do? They will not, cannot, accept same-sex marriage sacramentally. I agree that it is a shame when a good teacher is let go. At the same time, while it is a criminally great shame that contracts were not made more clear (and they are being made abundantly more clear), most knew on some level that same-sex activity is against Catholic teaching, and that it would be considered scandal, undermining the mission of the school. Now, I admit I have no easy answers for this last one, and God knows I have been critical of how it has been handled. Yet, again, does the Church not have a right to protect its own doctrine on its ground? This last one needs to be hammered out by people much more informed than myself but simply to call the Church’s response without nuance out of hand, especially given the tumult of the current Synod, seems disingenuous. What “disgusting penalties”? Nowhere has any Western bishop to my knowledge ever called for violence against homosexuals. I strongly doubt that many are uniformly even denied Communion. To be honest, I wouldn’t know who was actively homosexual in my parish at all to even enforce such a policy. They are simply my brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, if some were publicly and civilly married, yes, they would denied Communion (maybe) but they wouldn’t be kicked out of mass. I have a hard time seeing what is “disgusting” regarding pastoral practice here. Again, I am not claiming to solve this issue one or another.

          Peace, and I apologize if anything seems uncharitable here. I was writing quickly as I don’t have a lot of time.

    • Tanco

      David, my sarcastic “prayer” reflects years of frustration with the political machinations of some of the American bishops. Yes, I realize that there is a political spectrum in the USCCB. However, I’ve sensed for years that the hard-right bishops set the dance tempo when it comes to political involvement. I’ve also noticed that the more rightist bishops get promotions to larger sees, while more leftist bishops stay put in smaller dioceses.

      I also realize that the American Church has had a tendency to ally with the evangelical Christian right on certain political issues. Even so, the rise of the Moral Majority and obstreperous demagogic preachers has the segments of the institutional Church shacked up with some unsavory bedfellows. The USCCB once issued thoughtful position statements on topics such as nuclear proliferation. Now, some of the bishops merely parrot what one would hear on The 700 Club. Some of the big-shot evangelical preachers are very evil indeed. Their power is built on the denigration of other groups of people, including women and queer people. As a gay man, should I trust bishops who are buddies with preachers who support initiatives such as the proposed Ugandan homosexuality laws?

      Pope Francis is a refreshing turn of the page from previous papacies with regard to political litmus tests for appointment to sees. It strikes me that our new pontiff won’t base appointments on fidelity to Humanae vitae, for example. Still, Pope Francis hasn’t had the opportunity to make a dent on American appointments, at least not yet. For the meantime, we are stuck with some bishops who will toe any line just to get the archepiscopal ring.

      • Dante,
        I don’t know where to start. We must live in parallel worlds as I don’t want to question your knowledge. But the bishops have never championed universal health care since that would always include contraception and abortion rights. And the nuns – please, please become acquainted with this very important issue – it was NOT just a visitation, oh no, it’s more than that since they have Archbishop Peter Sartain monitoring their what activities, functions, choice of guest speakers, etc. Their great sin, Dante, was not what they were teaching since they were not teaching anything against Church dogma ( Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, a nun too smart for the bishops published a book within the bounds of Church teaching that some bishops were not pleased with – one nun). No, Dante, they were practicing the Gospel, you know, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, ministering to the marginalized: LGBT, homeless, immigrants, single mothers. Yes, the nuns are scary. They remind us of how we are expected to live the Gospel everyday.
        The bishops don’t need to do the catcalling themselves re the treatment of homosexuals in the Church: they rile up their hard hearted followers to write letters to the editors to their local Catholic paper and local paper, protest at their parishes about the evil of homosexuality( BTW, I’m not gay nor Is anyone in my family but I’m my brother’s/sister’s keeper). The bishops are religious politicians and we know how popular most politicians are. We are so eager to enforce laws and judge people that we forget what John said in his letter 3:11, “We should love one another.”

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

          The bishops have indeed championed universal health care for decades: I think it is tendentious to say it was not “universal” health care since it did not include contraceptives or abortion.

  • Kurt

    It is a fine prayer and an appropriate prayer. And I believe under the pastoral guidance of Pope Francis as well as some of the episcopal appointments he is starting to make, we have great hope for the direction the Church will take in the future.

    But while believing we should be hopeful and look forward, yes, there have been a certain number of bishops who have engaged in actions that are nothing more than being political hacks for the GOP. And I am not speaking of the issue of excessive or even singular focus on the abortion issue. I’m speaking of those who carefully twist their public comments on abortion to electorally help the right wing and attack the President — selling out the unborn when it helps the GOP and defending them only when it can be used against the Democrats.