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On the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops


PENNSYLVANIA CATHOLIC BISHOPS

Source:
First Things
Type:
Bishops, Priests
Date:
11/1/2012

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ABSTRACTOn the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops | First Things Home Visit the Home Page Print Edition Current Edition Previous Edition Archive Subscribe On the Square Latest Feature Archive Blogs Postmodern Conservative Dr. Boli First Thoughts Peter Leithart Kinship & Culture Advertising Advertise on First Things Donate Support First Things About Us Masthead ROFTERS Contact Us Events Submissions Store Shop First Things Affiliate Books Subscribe Subscribe Customer Service Search First Things Loading 2012 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov 2011 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2010 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2009 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2008 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2007 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2006 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2005 Sep Oct Nov Dec On the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops November 1, 2012 Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops Each year on this day the Catholic Church celebrates �All Saints Day.� This solemnity remembers those who have fulfilled their earthly vocation and now enjoy eternal happiness in the presence of God. These saints may be unnamed, but they certainly are not unknown. Their lives are characterized by steadfast faith and charitable works. They exemplify what it means to love God and love one�s neighbor. We celebrate these unnamed saints because all of us share a universal call to holiness. God the Father calls us, through Jesus, to be perfected (cf. Matt 5:48) and to live �as becomes saints� (Eph 5:3). As aspiring saints, we too must meet the challenges of our own time in history with boldness and humility, with courage and gentleness, and with an attentive docility to the Holy Spirit at work in our world. We, the bishops of Pennsylvania, see next Tuesday (November 6), Election Day, as a day of historical challenge for our time. We propose this statement now because the upcoming elections, at every level, offer a critical opportunity for Catholics�i.e., all of us who are believers: clergy, religious, and lay alike�to exercise our civic duty and fulfill our social responsibility in a way that becomes us as aspiring saints. Because politics is the place where competing moral visions of a society meet and struggle, our democracy depends on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square, yet doing so with an abiding respect for one another. That struggle includes and depends on all of us, precisely as Catholics. For if we believe that a particular issue is gravely evil or that it will result in serious damage to society, then we have a duty, both as Catholics and as Americans, to hold political candidates accountable. The 2012 elections take place during the Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, this year is necessary because, while many people continue �to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society,� nevertheless �in reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, . . . it is often openly denied� ( Porta Fidei , no. 2). Today it is no longer the case, as it was for our country�s Founders, that religion can provide a shared moral framework and vocabulary for a pluralistic democracy. In fact, Americans would do well to realize that many of our country�s leading thinkers in law, higher education, and the social sciences simply no longer believe in the idea of inalienable natural rights guaranteed by a Creator higher than the State�one of the cornerstone principles of the American experiment. This has serious implications because many of our most urgent political issues �ranging from the economy, immigration, and abortion to global security�raise profoundly moral questions. These questions cannot be resolved without a common understanding of right and wrong. Consider today�s aggressive efforts to redefine the nature of marriage, to exclude parental authority in the choice of the best education for their children, and to force Catholic healthcare and social services to end their ministries unless they violate their religious identities through mandated support of practices contrary to the very sanctity of human life. Religious liberty itself��our first, most cherished freedom��is no longer secure. At first glance, this may seem otherwise because religious freedom is so deeply ingrained in our national history. But democracy has no special immunity to losing its soul by little steps. As Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of early American democracy, observed more than 150 years ago, �it is especially dangerous to .......