Update on my Last Post About the Catholic Vote and Non-Negotiable Moral Principles

I wanted to share a few responses I received to my recent letter to the Providence Journal regarding the Catholic Vote and the non-negotiable moral principles. Below are two letters published on the Journal' website rebutting my letter. (My comments about these and much more are after the fold.)

Think for yourself, rather than heeding pope

Ah, there is a rivalry of consciences in the letters to the editor. ("My conscience as a Catholic voter," Oct. 28, by Ray H__; and "Catholic teachings," Nov. 1, by Rob A).Mr. H__'s discussion of the decisions of his conscience was reasoned and well explained. I admire his conscience.
Mr. A's conscience seems to rely on the teachings of a man who happens to be pope. None of those "non-negotiable moral principles" came from the pope under the cloak of infallibility, so a Catholic can disagree with him and follow his own conscience.
As I recall, there is not supposed to be anyone in the voting booth with us, directing how we vote.
I do not admire the conscience of Mr. A, who seems content to not struggle with these hard things himself, but, instead, lean on the words of the pope.

Peggy G__

Church is not a political party

Rob A's Nov. 1 letter ("Catholic teachings") states that Catholics cannot vote for President Obama because Obama violates moral principles that "Pope Benedict XVI has stated repeatedly ...should come before all other issues in politics."If true, Benedict's political directive is contrary to the teaching of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
In addressing the question of legalized abortion in newly democratic Poland after the fall of communism ("Witness to Hope" by George Weigel), John Paul echoed the voice of Jesus with regard to politics: "The Church is not a political party nor is she identified with any political party; she is above them, and no political party can claim her."
It is the Church's role to be "a guardian of the moral order and a critical conscience... the laity's task to be directly involved in the area of politics." And it is the responsibility of the people to "learn to dialogue with one another in truth and with respect for their own dignity and that of their counterparts, who, although differing, are not enemies."
John Paul knew instinctively that mixing politics with the pulpit eventually will corrupt the pulpit.

Jack O___

My first reaction to these letters is to be defensive. But the best course of action would be to pray for these people and our nation. These responses are unfortunate indicators of the state of faith in our world. They are also a reminder of the significance of Pope Benedict's call for a year of faith. Religion and faith are being increasingly ridiculed and pushed out of the public sector and confined to home or church on Sundays.

In response to Peggy G's letter, I admit that I do lean on the wisdom of the Pope. Being a faithful Catholic means that we are loyal to the Magisterium and believe that the Holy Father is guided by the Holy Spirit in matters of the Faith.

Peggy G, you are free to disagree with Pope if you like. However these three non-negotiable principles of the dignity of all human life, the importance of marriage and family, and authentic human freedom are all included in the doctrines of the Catholic Church. These are not some opinion of the current pope, but are core teachings of the Church which all popes throughout history have taught and all Catholics must follow. 

As for the second letter from Jack O, contrary to your interpretation. Pope Benedict is not contradicting Blessed John Paul II, but reinforcing what John Paul II stated in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life). In his encyclical, he states that we have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life and that it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.

Pope Benedict was not advocating that the Church belong to a political party but that we are not Democrats or Republicans first but Catholics first. We should vote using these moral principles as a guide and not just vote according to party lines. It is again another said reminder that faith in our society is secondary to political party agendas.

This final letter which I included below really disturbed me the most for a couple of reasons. First it was mailed directly to my home address. I don't know how this person got my address or if this is their attempt to intimidate me. Honestly, after the anger and initial surprise wore off, I don't feel intimidated, but rather sorry for this person. Below is a scan of the actual letter:

Since the handwriting is barely legible, I have typed the body of the letter below:
You are an ignorant Catholic who puts your Catholicism ahead of your U.S. Citizenship. Even Jesus would criticize you for the letter you wrote to the Prov. Journal.

Jack Kennedy years ago spoke elegantly about how his Catholicism would affect his role as President and demonstrated that U.S. citizenship comes first not loyalty to the Church or the Pope. President Obama has done what is right for America, not for Catholics, Jews, or Protestants and he'll continue to do so and hopefully will Romney if he's elected. Putting Catholic principles above the U.S. Constitution is an insult to all Americans. Look at the school in Cranston that was forced to remove the sign that had a religious value stressed over school principles.(see this link for more on this case) It's people like you that the Courts rule against in supporting individuals freedom to do as the individually believe, not to be stupid followers of the Pope. That's why the Catholic Church is losing so many followers and why attendance at mass and why communion is ever decreasing. Enough Catholics agree with Ray H__ and disagree with Rob't A and hopefully they will vote to relect Barack Obama as you should do if you consider yourself an American citizen.
I don't want to launch into a personal attack on the person who wrote this misguided letter, but it is so very wrong in so many areas. First, I will proudly say that my loyalty is to God and His Church first and foremost. To be a Catholic means you are a Catholic before you are a Democrat or Republican and even before you are an American. This is not meant to diminish in any way our role as American citizens, but to emphasize that our faith should be the foundation of everything else in our life. Embracing and living my faith does not make me less of an Amercian, but it is what helps me be a better person and a better citizen. As for Jack Kennedy's speech about his faith, Archbishop Charles Chaput did a better job than I ever could in discussing how wrong Kennedy was.

Secondly, The U.S. Constitution was built on Judeo-Christian principles, the same principles that this person claims is insulting to all Americans. Being a Christian and being an American are not mutually exclusive. Our Constitution protects religious freedoms where religion and government can co-exist and work together for the common good and where religion can have a voice in the public square.

I wish the writer of the above letter had include their name and address. I would have liked to invite this person to a civil discussion on the Catholic faith over a beer or two. Sending an anonymous letter and calling me ignorant and insulting accomplishes nothing. As I mentioned before, I think the best thing I can do is pray for this person and for our nation so that we are all more open to God's truth and love.

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