With voting just around the corner — and with open attacks on Catholic beliefs in the political realm — a new video bears watching and a new pastoral letter bears reading.
CatholicAction.org posted an exclusive 25-minute video interview Catholic Action for Faith and Family’s president, Thomas McKenna, had in Rome with Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke on Oct. 20. (Update:The interview will air on EWTN (Eastern time) at 9pm Friday, Oct. 29, 6:30am Saturday, Oct. 30, and 5:30pm Sunday, Oct. 31, and on the EWTN Radio Network at 9am and 8pm Saturday, Oct. 30, and 11am and 6:30pm Sunday, Oct. 31.)
Cardinal-designate Burke is surely a voice that needs to be heard and heeded in our culture. During this interview, he discusses several main points from his 2004 pastoral letter, “On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good.” He brings up basic moral principles that must guide Catholics in voting.
And he says that the country’s founders understood that religion inspires the highest motives so people can be good citizens.
As Archbishop Burke, who serves as prefect of the Supreme Court of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, makes clear, “There is a discrimination which is perfectly right and good, and namely, that is the discrimination between what is right and what is wrong.”
He said, “You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”
He reminds voters that they are bound to vote for candidates who oppose abortion, embryonic stem-cell research/experiments, euthanasia, and homosexual “marriage.”
To end abortion and attacks on the family, he recommends praying particularly for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, protectress of all human lives, and explains why.
Cardinal-elect Burke also makes the point that the Church teaching about disordered situations against nature is “simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”
Yet, on Oct. 26, it was reported that a split Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ public attack on the Vatican. The board’s resolution had said it was “an insult … when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to influence” the city’s customs and traditions like giving same-sex couples the right to adopt, according to the report.
This past year, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., and supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, has faced attacks on the Catholic faith at the hands of the state government. This prompted his Oct. 7 pastoral letter on religious freedom, “Let Freedom Ring.”
What Bishop Lori says and teaches with great clarity applies in general, not just to his specific state.
He lists recent challenges to religious liberty in Connecticut: a bill that would allow the state to “usurp the pastor’s role of governance in Catholic parishes” by assigning some of his pastoral and administrative duties to elected committees; a state-imposition of Plan “B” for Catholic hospitals; and a redefinition of marriage that now allows same-sex “marriage” in Connecticut.
Examining the problem, Bishop Lori observed, “There is a growing tendency in our state to view religious liberty as a grant to citizens by civil authorities coupled with a desire to regulate religion.” The state challenges appear to be that microcosm, as he continued: “All this is part of a broader movement to sharply delimit religion’s role in our culture.”
In one part, the letter states, “One also has the impression that our Church’s teaching on marriage and family is increasingly regarded as discriminatory, and even as ‘hate-speech.’”
But Bishop Lori reminds readers that the Founding Fathers mentioned religious liberty first in the Bill of Rights, “a priority that is not accidental,” and recognized in the Declaration of Independence that our origin is from God.
“God created us free so that we could embrace the truth in love and to do good for ourselves, our families and loved ones, and the larger society,” wrote the bishop.
That also means we need to claim our “natural right to bring our religious conviction into the public square, to engage the culture in which we live, and to participate in debates and discussions which help shape our character as a civic society.”
The pastoral letter details some of the ways we can do that, beginning with prayer, then in other ways being “courageous witnesses to moral truth,” as John Paul II challenged everyone.
Is it time to hear Cardinal-elect Burke and Bishop Lori as faith-based Paul Reveres?
Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull Connecticut.