Channing Rothwell (Village Church), Cessilye Smith (Abide Women’s Health Services) Jesse Casler (HOPE International), and Kathryn Freeman discuss creating pro-family policies and workplaces in this Families Valued event, co-sponsored by Millennial.
via the Vatican:
The coronavirus has caused death and suffering, affecting the lives of all, especially the most vulnerable. Please do not forget the most vulnerable. Do not forget those at the limit. Moreover, the pandemic has contributed to worsening existing social and environmental crises, as you, young people, are always reminding us. And you are right to remember this.
In the face of so much darkness and uncertainty, we need light and hope. We need paths of healing and salvation. And I mean healing at the root, healing the cause of the evil and not just the symptoms. In these sick roots we find the virus of individualism, which does not make us freer or more equal or more brotherly or sisterly, but rather makes us indifferent to the suffering of others. And a variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines. Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity. Another variant is when we create and promote a sick economy, which allows a few very rich people, a few very rich people, to own more than all the rest of humanity, and production and consumption patterns to destroy the planet, our “Common Home”.
These things are interconnected. Every social injustice, every marginalization of some into poverty or misery also affects the environment. Nature and people are linked. God the Creator instills in our hearts a new and generous spirit to abandon our individualism and promote the common good: a spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, just and sustainable economic model.
Pope Francis: “The Church needs faithful people who proclaim the Gospel with enthusiasm and wisdom, instilling hope and faith.”
Bishop Robert McElroy writes:
It is almost 50 years since the Supreme Court decision in the case Roe v. Wade. While progress in reducing abortions has occurred in some jurisdictions and the number of abortions nationwide has fallen, the United States still rejects the legal structures and policies that can bring meaningful protection to the unborn. The election of President Biden and a Democratic Congress is a sign that, outside of the courts, federal progress on the pivotal moral issue of abortion will not occur in the immediate future. This is an immense sadness for every bishop in our country and for the church as a whole, and leaders of the church are ardently seeking a step that will advance the protection of the unborn.
But the proposal to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist is the wrong step. It will bring tremendously destructive consequences—not because of what it says about abortion, but because of what it says about the Eucharist….
Because of this sacred nature and identity, the Eucharist must never be instrumentalized for a political end, no matter how important. But that is precisely what is being done in the effort to exclude Catholic political leaders who oppose the church’s teaching on abortion and civil law. The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen….
A second problematic dimension of this theology of unworthiness is that while it is expansive in its notion of unworthiness, it applies sanctions very selectively and inconsistently. Proposals to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist have focused on abortion, and at times euthanasia, as the imperative issues for which the bishops should adopt a national policy of eucharistic exclusion. Their logic is that abortion and euthanasia are particularly grave evils, they are intrinsically evil and they involve threats to human life.
But why hasn’t racism been included in the call for eucharistic sanctions against political leaders? Racism was enumerated as a compelling intrinsic evil by St. John Paul II in “Veritatis Splendor” and by the Second Vatican Council….
Racism is tearing at the heart of our nation with intense fury at this very moment, yet the intrinsic evil of racism is not a grounds for eucharistic exclusion in the proposals that have been brought this year to our conference of bishops for action. It will be impossible to convince large numbers of Catholics in our nation that this omission does not spring from a desire to limit the impact of exclusion to Democratic public leaders and a desire to avoid detracting from the focus on abortion….
At a time when we are emerging from a pandemic and seeking to rebuild the eucharistic community, it would be particularly wounding to embrace and emphasize a theology of unworthiness and exclusion rather than a theology that emphasizes Christ’s unrelenting invitation to all.
What is going on? Naumann, Cordileone, Aquila and Olmsted are not stupid men. They know that a bishops’ conference has no role in this matter, that Biden is a baptized Catholic, subject to canon law, and that canon law leaves this issue entirely to Biden and his pastor. They know, too, that persisting in this effort will further divide their own organization, pitting bishop against bishop on a highly public issue that is emotionally fraught and involving issues that are easily misunderstood and even more easily enflamed to affect emotional manipulation. They also know that a teaching document requires a two-thirds majority vote, and it is highly doubtful they would achieve that, and such a document requires the approbation of the Holy See, which is even less likely.
It seems obvious to me that this rush to draft a document is the ecclesial equivalent of the effort by Republican officials to cast doubt on results of the 2020 election, an effort to delegitimize Biden in the public’s mind. This conflation of politics and religion is evident in the fact that a political organization, CatholicVote.org, is one of the principal advocacy groups fomenting this campaign about sacramental discipline….
As I have written before, it is foolish to think that Biden going to Communion will confuse anyone about what the church teaches regarding the evil of abortion. Is there anyone who does not know the church’s position? No. Why then, this crusade?
There are some Catholics for whom opposition to abortion has become the key to their religious and political identity. There are worse markers of identity a person could adopt. There are people whose political and religious identity is wrapped in racism, for example. But there’s the rub. In the current political climate, and certainly in the last election, making abortion the determinative issue required winking at racism — and at misogyny, and nativism, and indifference to climate change, and, finally, a fascistic willingness to overturn election results.
Biden is not performing abortions and he has never, to my knowledge, questioned the church’s teaching on abortion. Groups like Catholics for Choice do try and undermine the church’s teaching, or at least they try and muddy the waters, and that is evil.
Biden does not do that. If he is wrong — and I think he is — he is wrong about how to properly relate a Catholic’s necessary commitment to the protection of all human life with the political realities he faces. My Catholic friends who are Republican face the exact same kind of difficulty on other issues.
I wish both sides would try and convince their fellow politicians and the public at large that the church is correct — about abortion, about immigration, about poverty, about the environment, about racism, etc. — but instead they try and claim that the Gospel prioritizes their partisan issues and permits us to make excuses when that claim is demonstrably false….
What does scandalize us is that the bishops would engage in this kind of hyper-partisan willingness to highlight some issues and ignore or denigrate others. It is they who “isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole” yielding the very adjective they now seek to employ: incoherence.
Pope Francis: “Love of God and love of neighbour should be the two cornerstones of our lives.”
John Gehring writes:
Religious leaders from diverse faith traditions are speaking out and organizing against a surge of voter suppression in states across the country. Pastors, rabbis, and imams have lobbied lawmakers, written op-eds, and pressured corporations in response to laws that create barriers to the ballot box and disproportionately impact Black voters. When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial and widely criticized election reform package last month, activists (including from my organization, Faith in Public Life) were especially vocal in protesting the law’s prohibition on giving food and water to people waiting in line to vote.
Amid this growing resistance to attacks on voting rights, however, the Catholic hierarchy is silent. The Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, have issued no statements since the law passed. The archdiocese declined to comment for this article. At the national level, Church leaders are also quiet….
But there has been no public reaction from the bishops’ conference to the fact that in forty-seven states, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, Republican lawmakers have proposed 361 bills with restrictive provisions that, among other things, would limit mail-in, early in-person, and election-day voting. Nor have bishops voiced any public support for legislation in Congress—the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—that respond to the proliferation of state-level restrictions with proposals to expand voting access and curb partisan gerrymandering….
The silence from Catholic bishops when it comes to systematic, partisan, and racist efforts to undermine voting rights is a failure to apply Catholic social teaching to one of the most brazen injustices of our time. Church leaders could draw from their own documents and teachings if they need any motivation to get involved. In Faithful Citizenship, the U.S. bishops’ detailed reflection guide issued every four years, “participation in political life” is described as “a moral obligation.” While voting is not the only way to participate in the political process, it’s a linchpin of civic engagement. Fair access to the polls is a prerequisite for a healthy democracy.
If civic participation is defined as a moral obligation, according to Church teaching, it would stand to reason that Catholic bishops should be concerned about widespread efforts that will make it harder for historically marginalized people to vote. Given our nation’s history of racism as a motivating factor in suppressing voters, there’s a compelling imperative for bishops and other Catholic leaders to act….
Papal encyclicals and other Church teaching offer a framework for discerning how bishops and other Catholics could do more to address voter suppression.
“Praise is due to those national procedures which allow the largest possible number of citizens to participate in public affairs with genuine freedom,” according to the seminal Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et spes. In his 1963 encyclical, Pacem in terris, Pope John XXIII addressed citizens’ participation in public life by underscoring that “a natural consequence of men’s dignity is unquestionably their right to take an active part in government.” Pope John Paul II, writing in Centesimus annus, noted that “the Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices.”
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, a frequent commentator on the themes of Faithful Citizenship and voting, agrees that voter suppression demands a more significant Catholic response. “Catholic social teaching assigns a central role to the broadest possible participation of citizens in government, so that the powerless are more protected, substantive justice is vindicated, and democratic societies are continually renewed by the ever greater involvement of men and women in their own government,” McElroy told me.
Bernice A. King and William J. Barber II write:
As children of the civil rights movement, we know how faithfully our parents sacrificed to defeat Jim Crow. But we also know that their moral struggle for a true democracy was not only about voting rights for Black people. They challenged Jim Crow’s subversion of democracy because they knew it undermined the promises of democracy for every American. They understood the interconnectedness of humanity, and in particular concerning voting rights, how classism and racism were at work to create barriers. To defeat voter suppression today, we must be equally as conscious of how attacks on democracy are detrimental to a diverse population, including Black people, white people grappling with poverty and brown people….
Our parents taught us that there is a moral high ground above left and right, and that our deepest moral and constitutional traditions point us toward the possibility of a more perfect union when we respect the basic democratic principle of one person, one vote. We must reclaim voting rights as a moral issue in this moment and stand together to demand the passing of federal legislation, such as the For the People Act, which will protect the promise of democracy in every state and without discrimination based on race and class. In doing so, we create a win for justice and equity that serves the whole of this nation and humanity well.