Seeking Divine Mercy
Catholics in Political Life
The following information will hopefully provide a better understanding of: 1. The Catholic Church’s position in regard to its organizational stance relative to government, 2. the responsibility of the lay Catholic who has chosen a career in the political or judicial arena.
The Individual perspective:
It is nothing more than artificial Faith founded in double standards to believe that once baptized into Christ, thereupon being “reborn” a Christian, one can intentionally and selectively remove them self from obedience to living that Christian faith and morality which they are called to by Christ Himself. This is after all, what being a “Christian” means; “disciple of” or “follower of Christ.” It is a way of life in itself. It is maintaining awareness of conscience motivated by human morality. It is being just and charitable with humility, not boastfulness, toward others that we must live by. Examples of these attributes are shown to us by those teachings and the examples Jesus expressed in His own life. All of these principles are expressions of love for one another in the love of Christ. Being a Christian is more than entering a building with a “religious” name, or referring to one’s self as a Christian. Believing in Christ is not substantiated merely by believing in His existence or believing that He is the Son of God in itself. It is believing in His teachings and reflecting that belief in the choices one makes and the way one lives their daily life. The way we live is the expression of our Faith. “…let your "Yes" mean "Yes" and your "No" mean "No," that you may not incur condemnation.” (James CH5; v12)
Those who strive to reflect their devotion to Christ in their daily lives remain human beings and as such are subject to human weaknesses vulnerable to subsequent sin. We are always exposed to the influences of satan dependant upon the degree we remain in a state of Grace. But although these occurrences of weakness can lead us to sin, such is not of the character we speak of here. Here we speak of those individuals who claim to be Christians of the Catholic Faith holding political positions (including the judicial system) of power and influence over the societal standards of “justice” for every human being, yet who abandon morality and conscience in the performance of their duties to gain favor or maintain their status. In abandoning morality and conscience they become guided only by self preservation through “political correctness”. But political correctness changes as society’s views change and society’s views change more frequently than not on the strength or weakness of moral conscience as apposed to the enticement of conveniences obtainable in social life. Those conveniences may be for individuals or for a particular group or citizenship. The convenience may be sought monetarily or by other self gains, through social superiority or otherwise. But neither morality nor the Word of God changes, nor is it flexible.
Any person who publically claims them self to be of the Catholic Faith, willingly assumes the responsibility of expressing and reflecting that faith and the inherent God gifted morals bestowed within the hearts of all man. In promoting those issues that are not supportive of the quality or intrinsic value of human life morally, equally and humanely in justice for all human beings, he or she deceives themselves as well as defies God and the teachings and doctrines of the Church Jesus established with His Blood. Any political representative of the people who in the practice of his professional office abandons his or her practice of morality and defense of justice for every human being while claiming publically to be a practicing Faithful Catholic Is again in opposition to God’s Word. He or she who intentionally defies that which is declared by God yet partakes of the Eucharist unworthily according to Scripture itself, takes upon his hands the Blood of Christ. 1 Corinthians CH11; 27 “…whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink of the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. Morality and the natural laws of God are what separate us from all other living animals as we have been made in His image and likeness.
As one of the most important crises of our time, the devaluation of human life at any stage or condition of life, and the assignment of monetary valuation to human life based on criteria such as age is nothing more than the introduction of euthanasia or murder, determining that point of life a person should die and therefore denying the opportunity for their continued life allowing God alone to determine each person’s longevity. Two perfect examples are abortion and that of denying or limiting medical interventions and treatments for senior citizens so as to limit medical “expenses.” But consider how many times medical practitioners unintentionally diagnosed inaccurately. Further still, how is it morally just for any government official with no medical experience or proper medical education to make any determination of proper medical treatment over and above the attending medical practitioner?
As far as the question of excommunication by the Church is concerned, although the Catholic Church may formally excommunicate someone from the Church, it is not considered lightly by any means. Every person who is of the Catholic Faith is well aware of their own sin and worthiness to participate in the sacraments and especially to receive the Eucharist, and being refused the Eucharist is not excommunication in itself. Every Catholic with basic education in the faith is also aware they become self-excommunicated by their own actions (sin) dependant upon the seriousness and denial of repentance of those actions needing not to be “formally excommunicated” by the Church. In the case of formal excommunication by the Church, the only recourse requires a formal process along with repentance of sin and amendment of one’s life through the sacrament of reconciliation.
In the case of a person publically promoting that which is in serious opposition to the Word of God morally and otherwise, it is their responsibility as it is each individual’s responsibility to repent AND amend their life, however, they likewise would be required to correct any misconceptions they lead the public to believe in presenting the notion that selective sinful, defiant acts are acceptable to God and to His Church.
The definition of Excommunication according to the Catholic Dictionary is; an ecclesiastical censure by which one is more or less excluded from communion with the faithful. It is also called anathema, especially if it is inflicted with formal solemnities on persons notoriously obstinate to reconciliation. Two basic forms of excommunication are legislated by the Code of Canon Law, namely inflicted penalties (ferendae sententiae) and automatic penalties (latae sententiae). In the first type, a penalty does not bind until after it has been imposed on the guilty party. In the second type, the excommunication is incurred by the very commission of the offense, if the law or precept expressly determines this (Canon 1314). Most excommunications are of the second type. Among others identified by the new Code are the following:
"An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic excommunication" (Canon 1364).
"A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes them or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See" (Canon 1367).
"A confessor who directly violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See" (Canon 1388).
"A person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic excommunication" (Canon 1398).
There are three principal affects of this penalty, so that "an excommunicated person is forbidden:
to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice or in any other ceremonies whatsoever of public worship
to celebrate the sacraments and sacramentals and to receive the sacraments
to discharge any ecclesiastical offices, ministries or functions whatsoever, or to place acts of governance"
Code of Canon Law – Published 1983
coverage of the problem of Catholic politicians who advocate abortion
"rights" sometimes mention Church law. Some
reporters have confused excommunication with not receiving Holy Communion at
From The Code of Canon Law, Book IV, Part I, The Sacraments, Title III, The Most Holy Eucharist, Chapter I, The Eucharistic Celebration, Article 2, Participation in the Most Holy Eucharist (Canons 912-923).
C. 915. Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.
C. 916. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible.
Abortion, like homicide, is a crime that incurs automatic excommunication, which does not require formal action by the Church. (Bk VI; Pt II - Penalties for Specific Offenses: Canons 1364-1399 - Title VI Offense Against Human Life and Freedom.)
C. 1398. A person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.
In the political arena regarding matters such as these, the
politician’s purpose (in
Pontius Pilot turned Jesus over to be crucified against his own moral conscience for the sake of “political correctness” and then arrogantly washed his hands as though washing away any responsibility for the death of this man whom he recognized to be innocent, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Morally he knew his decision to be wrong but separated himself from his morality to justify his retaining his political stature among the people.
The Catholic Church and its institutional stand regarding political involvement:
“28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered:
a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”. Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere. The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.
Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God -- an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.
The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
29. “We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.
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. So they cannot relinquish their participation “in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.”  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. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as “social charity”.
83. Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as Eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms (230). These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature (231). There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them (232).
“ENCYCLICAL LETTER, “DEUS CARITAS EST”, OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI
Read the entire document at Deus Caritas Est.
January 28, 2009
Thoughts on a ‘new beginning,’ and an old truth
Archbishop Charles Chaput
“The first three Commandments outline our relationship with God. The remaining seven proceed from the first three. They establish our duties to one another. There’s a very good reason for this. The First Commandment—I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me—is the bedrock of Judaism and Christianity. All of our Western beliefs about the sanctity of life, human dignity and human rights ultimately depend on a Creator who guarantees them. In other words, we have infinite value because God made us, and no other human being or political authority can revoke that infinite value. Only God is God, and there is no other God but the God of Israel and Jesus. Every other little godling that poses as an answer to human suffering and hope—from Wicca to fortune telling to pop psychology to political messianism to cult spirituality—is finally an impostor and a road away from God’s light. Only God is God. There is no other.
I mention this because we live in an age that sees itself as scientific, reasonable and enlightened. In a sense it is. It’s certainly true that science and technology have improved the quality of life for millions of people. But as C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” and his novel “That Hideous Strength,” science doesn’t necessarily kill off superstition or barbarism. In fact, the three can get along quite comfortably. As the Christian moral consensus has declined over the past century, and science has made spectacular strides, people haven’t become more logical or morally mature. The opposite has happened. The 20th century was the bloodiest in history, and today the occult is flourishing in developed nations—especially among young people who’ve lost the vocabulary to understand the gravity of the forces they play with. Knowledge is merely knowledge. Power is merely power. Nothing inherent to knowledge or power guarantees that it will translate to wisdom or justice or mercy.
I remembered these things as I read, and reread, some lines from President Obama’s inauguration speech:
“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”
I then compared them to the opening words of another text, “Dignitatis Personae: On Certain Bioethical Questions,” issued last month by the Holy See:
“The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life, and must be at the center of ethical reflections on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world.”
The world sees our new president as a man of intelligence, confidence and promise. He needs our prayers. He arrives at, and he helped create, an important moment in American history. But what he does with it remains to be seen; and what exactly he means by “[restoring] science to its rightful place” when it comes to embryonic stem cell research and other troubling bioethical issues will help define the moral character of his presidency—or the lack of it.
Only God is God. There is no other. The rightful place of science, like all human activity, is in the service of human dignity, and under the judgment of God’s justice.”
(Thoughts on a ‘new
beginning,’ and an old truth Archbishop Charles Chaput,
January 28, 2009)
Also Refer to the following:
"Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic
Political Vocation." The Most
Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.
Cap. Given in an address delivered at St. Basil's Collegiate Church at
Catholics in political life By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II, 03/25/1995
presented here should give a clear understanding to the reader as to the
position of the Catholic Church and all those who are considered abiding to the
Faith and Teachings of the Catholic Church. In other words,
those who are “in union with the Holy See, (