Faith and Politics

Our beloved Archbiship Wuerl gave an address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast that addressed faith and politics. I’m not a big fan of politics, but I love my Church, so I was intrigued.

To explore the developments in the relationship of faith and public policy we need to begin with a recognition that in recent years we have witnessed a movement in some public opinion forums away from an appreciation of the basic religious values that underpin our laws—religious values accepted and expressed by a great variety of faith communities—to the assertion of the need to substitute a so-called secular frame of reference within which public policy should be articulated.

This is so important. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. Rosie O’Donnell recently expressed her dismay at the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban by lamenting that, since the five Supreme Court Justices who voted in favor of the ban are Catholic, the country is losing its sense of the separation of church and state. That’s not what “separation of church and state” means. It doesn’t mean that you have to divorce your church life from public life, even if that public life includes handing down legislation. To be a truly faithful person in any tradition, your faith has to inform every aspect of your life. “Separation of church and state” means that there is no official Church of the United States. It means that the U.S. government can’t define religion. It does not and has never meant that there must be a chasm between faith and law.

The reason Rerum Novarum is highlighted so regularly is because it was the beginning of a long series of papal encyclicals and statements constantly developing the theme of human dignity and social justice. […] Religious faith has played and continues to play a significant role in promoting social justice issues.

What faith brings to our world is a way of seeing life and reality, a way of judging right and wrong, a norm against which we can see our life measured in light of the wisdom of God.

We simply cannot put aside all of this conviction of how we live and make important decisions and still be who we are as Catholics and as heirs to the American dream of personal freedom, faith and the common good.

We cannot divide personal morality and ethics from political life any more than we can separate spiritual values from human values. It is an unnatural and unhealthy condition for the individual and society so to compartmentalize our most firmly held convictions that they are not allowed to affect our public lives. Such a schizophrenic approach to life is, at best, unhealthy. Closer to the truth—it brings devastation to the person and to society.

Some day, maybe our country will recognize that what is popular—or rather, what the new would have you believe is popular—is not always right. May God be with all of us, all the time, in all the aspects of our lives.

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