'We have no king but Caesar:' Some thoughts on Catholic faith and public life


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ABSTRACT'We have no king but Caesar:' Some thoughts on Catholic faith and public life - By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » Columns » Bishops' Corner September 15, 2012 'We have no king but Caesar:' Some thoughts on Catholic faith and public life By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput * By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput * A priest I know does a lot of spiritual direction.  Two of the men he was helping died suddenly this past year, one of a heart attack and one of a stroke.  In both cases they were relatively young men and quite successful.  In both cases they watched Fox News.  And in both cases they had gotten into the nightly habit of shouting at President Obama whenever he came on the TV.  In both cases, the wives believed – and they still believe – that politics killed their husbands. Now that’s a true story.  And it’s a good place to begin our time together today.  Henri de Lubac, the great Jesuit theologian, once said that if heretics no longer horrify us, it’s not because we have more charity in our hearts. (i) We just find it a lot more satisfying to despise our political opponents.  We’ve transferred our passion to politics. My theme today is living the Catholic faith in public life, including our political life.  But in talking about it, I need to make a few preliminary points. Here’s my first point.  It’s very simple.  We’re mortal .  We’re going to die . American culture spends a huge amount of energy ignoring death, delaying it and distracting us from thinking about it.  But our time in this world is very limited; science can’t fix the problem; and there’s no government bailout program.  Life is precious.  Time matters .  So does the way we use it.  And as all of the great saints understood, thinking a little about our death can have a wonderfully medicinal effect on human behavior.  The reason is obvious.  If we believe in an afterlife where we’re held accountable for our actions, then that belief has very practical implications for our choices in this world .  Obviously, some people don’t believe in God or an afterlife, and they need to act in a way that conforms to their convictions.  But that doesn’t absolve us from following ours.  For Christians, the trinity of virtues we call faith, hope and charity should shape everything we do, both privately and in our public lives.  Faith in God gives us hope in eternal life.  Hope casts out fear and enables us to love.  And the love of God and other human persons – the virtue of charity – is the animating spirit of all authentically Christian political action.  By love I don’t mean “love” in a sentimental or indulgent sense, the kind of empty love that offers “tolerance” as an alibi for inaction in the face of evil.  I mean love in the Christian sense; love with a heart of courage , love determined to build justice in society and focused on the true good of the whole human person, body and soul.  Human progress means more than getting more stuff, more entitlements and more personal license.  Real progress always includes man’s spiritual nature.  Real progress satisfies the human hunger for solidarity and communion.  So when our leaders and their slogans tell us to move “forward,” we need to take a very hard look at the road we’re on, where “forward” leads, and whether it ennobles the human soul, or just aggravates our selfishness and appetite for things. What all this means for our public life is this:  Catholics can live quite peacefully with the separation of Church and state, so long as the arrangeme.......