Monday, September 1, 2008


Politicians Muddying the Waters of Faith

Off all the charges that secularists, athiests, and liberals make against the role of religion in American public life, none is more exaggerated than the notion that religion (read: Christianity) has poisoned the waters of our national political life. One of the most striking examples of this spin is how anyone who holds to a a traditional Christian view of morality is generally labeled either "right-wing" or "conservative," instead of the more appropriate term, orthodox.

It seems safe to argue that one's political viewpoint is shaped by one's worldview, which in itself is informed by one's station in life, family attitudes, personal experiences, education, independent thought, etc. And it seems equally clear that one's religion touches upon all the aforementioned criteria, making it a fairly sound way to reason one's way through the political landscape.

An orthodox Catholic, for example, is one who is in communion with the magesterium of the Church. One who, in the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola "thinks with the Church." When such a Catholic approaches the voting booth, he is not looking to learn that a candidate is Catholic, or even Christian, but whether this person will protect the most vulnerable in society, defend the right of all human persons to live, preserve and protect the nation, form legislation in accordance with the natural law, and allow for liberty and religious freedom for all men across the board. To evaluate a candidate in such a way, in my mind, does not seem either narrow or parochial.

Last week, when Speaker Pelosi incorrectly stated that there was confusion in the Catholic Church about abortion, this was not an instance of religion tramping into the political sphere, but of politicians mucking about in the religious doctrine. Fr. John De Celles, STL, associate pastor at Old St. Mary’s Church in Alexandria, Va., illuminated this point brilliantly in a recent Sunday homily touching on the Pelosi issue.

Fr. De Celles said, "Now, some will want to say that these bishops—and I—are crossing the line from Religion into to politics. But it was the Speaker of the House who started this. The bishops, and I, are not crossing into politics; she, and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, regularly cross over into teaching theology and doctrine, And it’s our job to try clean up their mess."

I'm not sure if the issue of politics and religion in present-day American has ever been summed up any better.


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