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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Miami Archbishop Instructs Catholic Voters...

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski doesn't appear to be someone who minces words.

Regardless of whether it may rub some the wrong way, he’s a fervent and passionate defender of the faith and is willing to take a stand for Truth to ensure the eternal life of the 1.3 million Catholics in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties that have been put in his charge.

Like a long line of bishops in the annals of time, Bishop Wenski is first and foremost a teacher, who is willing to swim against the cultural and political tide because that is his job.

In fact, just as its founder, Jesus Christ, the Church will always be a contradiction in society and, unfortunately, many times, the bishops, who have been entrusted the responsibility of guiding the faithful from the times of the Apostles, have taken the brunt of this dichotomy.

First century bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was a disciple of the Apostle John and the first to use the word Catholic (which means universal) when describing the Church, once wrote, "See that you follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father... Wherever the bishop shall appear, let the Church also be."

Now, this was a man who knew what it meant to swim against the social and political tide. It ultimately led to his arrest and martyrdom.  Still, as a bishop of the Church and spiritual shepherd, his priority to feed and tend to his flock never wavered. 

On the way to his martyrdom in Rome (he was fed to lions), and knowing his fate, St. Ignatius wrote seven letters to the Christian communities, that still exist today, to make sure that the teachings that were entrusted to him by St. John were passed on.

That has been the mission of the Church since the Lord commanded His Apostles to make disciples of all nations and teach them all that He had taught almost two thousand years ago.

In other words, the Apostles and their descendants have been preserving the deposit of faith from one generation to the next.

The reason for my historical digression is that last Sunday, a descendant of the Apostles, Archbishop Wenski, made an important announcement which would behoove all Catholics to consider.

During each Mass, at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Miami, a letter by the Archbishop was read regarding the upcoming presidential elections.  Aside from suggestions on a couple of Florida Amendments, the bishop wrote:
While some may resent this particular exercise of our teaching ministry, I would hope that most Catholics of good will welcome these interventions. All of us need help in making difficult decisions. As Catholics we have good counsel in our Church teachings on our civic responsibility to pursue the common good, as well as in prayer. These are important elements that help one arrive at the best prudential decision.

Our system of checks and balances built into our governing structures by our founding fathers reflected an understanding of the human person founded in our Judeo-Christian tradition.

And whether as citizens or as elected officials, if we are to be faithful to the truth about the human person, we must oppose uncompromisingly policies and laws that undermine the common good precisely because they originate in a defective understanding of the human person.

For this reason, the Church -clergy and laity- while agreeing to disagree on other matters of prudential judgement cannot but oppose the evils of abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and so called same sex "marriage." In these areas, there can be no other legitimate Catholic position.

Beyond these fundamental issues, and closely related to them, is the issue of religious liberty which must be defended from current attempts to undermine it by limiting people of faith's freedom to serve in ways congruent to their faith and morals.
For those of us who profess to "believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church," on Sundays, this should resonate within our souls.

The Church is clear that when it comes to abortion and other life issues, there is no grey area.  Moreover, not all issues, whether the economy, jobs, the national debt, the environment, education, foreign policy, providing for the poor, etc., carry the same weight.

In his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the Bishop of Rome, Bl. Pope John Paul II, wrote about abortion, "The failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the "rightness" of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community."

Therefore, as Archbishop Wenski stated, we can agree to disagree on certain measures for achieving social justice, but despite what some politicians and public figures may argue or do, we cannot deviate from the issues the Church considers non-negotiable and still purport to remain within her fold.

The argument that one opposes an issue personally but cannot impose it on others does not hold water.  We either live what we believe, or we don't.

At least to me, any attempt to try to justify voting against the teachings of our faith would be disingenuous to our Church, our community and our selves...


AKN said...

Thanks for a solid article articulating the primacy of issues that directly impact the dignity of man. You may be interested in this analysis on the CDF's teaching on voting:

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you, Arland and I enjoyed your article very much as well. Keep up the good work.
God bless.