“My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding ‘political’ and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues… a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your soul in jeopardy.” Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.
Amen, Bishop. Amen.
So you’ll have something to say soon about the lawmakers who vote against common sense gun control measures? The lawmakers who voted against background checks the other day?
Because in 2008 and again in 2012, I sat in church and listened to my priests and deacons preach against pro-choice and pro-gay rights candidates. I listened to them condemn by name elected Catholic Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, because of their beliefs.
One priest, echoing Bishops across the country, told us that if we voted for any candidate who supported abortion rights, we were sinners who “cannot call ourselves Catholics”.
As a Catholic Democrat, who acknowledges the spiritual leadership of the Church, I was concerned. Shea and I searched our souls and beliefs to make sure our reasons for voting Democrat were supportable by church teachings.
And you know what? They are supported, by the words of our very own bishops, who have said “Catholic teaching about the dignity of life calls us to oppose torture, unjust war, and the use of the death penalty; to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; and to overcome poverty and suffering. Nations are called to protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort, always seeking first to resolve disputes by peaceful means. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God.” (A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States)
Take this statement and apply it to the Republican platform, which would deny assistance to mothers who opt to have their babies, instead of abort; build a wall between the US and Mexico and arm it to keep desperate immigrants out of this great nation of immigrants; raise taxes on the poor and hardworking to protect the wealth of the rich; support big business and free trade, despite the damage it does to our economy and workers abroad, and despite Pope Benedict’s call to hold corporations accountable for their business decisions; and support the death penalty, which is murder.
Voting Republican might also put a soul in danger.
My point is that it’s not easy to be a Christian voter. It just isn’t. This nation has an imperfect political system, and neither platform really meets the standards of a Christian voter.
But sometimes, issues are easy. And gun control is a moral slam dunk.
Look back at what the Bishops said. If we are pro-life from birth to death, then gun control is a Christian moral value. If we seek first to resolves disputes peacefully, and if we revere all human beings as children of God, then gun control is a Christian moral value.
If we believe in the New Covenant made by Jesus on that cross and that God calls us to love and that we demonstrate that love by treating others the way we want to be treated, then gun control is a Christian moral value.
There is no moral high ground to support assault weapons in the hands of ordinary citizens. The entire purpose of assault weapons is to kill as many people in as short a time as possible. In the hands of non-military folk, this purpose is “intrinsically evil” and therefore morally nonsupportable.
There is no moral high ground to stand against a simple thing like back ground checks. To argue that background checks infringe on personal rights and privacy is disingenuous in a society where so much of our personal lives are online by our own choice. And anyone who has something to hide from a gun-related background check is probably a threat to society. Protecting them is morally nonsupportable.
As our spiritual leaders remind us so often, this is a nation founded on Christian beliefs. If we are one nation under God, and call ourselves servants of God, then we must do as the Bishops require and “protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort”.
So where’s the pulpit outrage and thunder on this issue?
My priests and deacons have been silent. My bishop has been silent. This despite public support for President Obama’s proposal from the Vatican. And the fact that so many of those sweet babies in Newton were buried out of their local Catholic church.
In fact, the entire American Christian church has been largely silent.
How can this be?