How Church’s Mission was Helped by Elections

By Father Donnell Kirchner

One third of the US Catholic bishops and many conservatives of the faithful were devastated and disheartened by the results of our recent elections. If one is stuck on only those issues which involve the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” in the Catholic tradition) and sexuality, they may have reason to be dejected. Yet the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document on “Responsible Citizenship” warned against embracing only a single issue.

But Catholic social teaching and her mission in society goes from womb to tomb. He who has a more truly CATHOLIC vision, in the sense of a more universal vision of the value of human life at all levels, for all people, whether they be among the 1% or the other 47%, will see that there are lacunas and failing on all sides. No political party or philosophy has a total corner on the truth and justice.

Every abortion is an unfortunate decision which hurts and harms all the parties involved: mother and child, the not- to-be father, the doctor, nurse, etc.

Let’s look at what the group Catholic Democrats think are reasons for thanking the Lord about the recent elections:

• Our nation elected a president who believes that we are all our sisters’ and brothers’ keeper — that we are all in this together — and that we have a responsibility to that;

• The slow — but steady — growth of our economy over the past four years, which other nations wish they enjoyed, including the creation 4.5 million jobs created in the past four years. Ever since Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, popes have been talking about economic might for the laborers who are the greatest riches of a country;

• The Supreme Court decision that substantially upheld the framework of the Affordable Care Act that will allow our nation to build on and improve this historic legislation so that no one goes without the fundamental right to basic health care; whether I should have to pay for someone else birth control pills is still something to be debated. Health care? Are we going to pay for medical marijuana cigarettes for those who choose to smoke? Buy liquor for those who like a “medicinal” drink? Yes, there needs to be some limits to government involvement in our private lives;

• Those Catholic voices that have spoken out in support of the millions of people still living in poverty;

• The thousands of organizations, including Catholic Charities, parishes, etc., that serve those who are vulnerable by providing them food, shelter, clothing, and other kinds of assistance;

• The leadership of President Obama, demonstrated by his issuing an executive order that keeps immigrant families together by allowing young people who would have qualified under the DREAM Act to no longer fear deportation. Wasn’t this whole concept originally a Republican idea?

• The thousands who spoke out about the divisive politicization that took place in too many Catholic parishes throughout the presidential campaign, and the many priests who stood up to keep their parishes safe from partisan politicking;

• The Catholic Social Justice Tradition, which has informed our nation’s conscience for over a century and that gives us hope for the future. Thank God that Ayn Rand and her like-minded ilk did not win the election;

• The Church follows Jesus. We have managed to wind down two wars, and stay out of new ones in Libya, Syria and Gaza so far. How is that for a pro-life stand?

• The Catholic theological community who has spoken out publicly on critical issues during the campaign, reminding the Church and the nation of the virtues and imperative of the Catholic Social Justice Tradition in addressing the moral issues of our time. Three Cheers for Sister Simone Campbell and her bus-riding nuns.

So whether two people of the same sex who make a commitment to one another should be called a marriage (I prefer not) or a civil union (better choice), the Church is going to have to develop a new theology of sexuality in the next two to three generations. Am I a heretic to say, rightfully so? No longer can or should the government decide these types of moral issues.

As for poverty, violence and war, an unjust economic system which allows the rich to keep on getting richer, let’s use our consciences and a rational reasoning to create a renewed society, the fore runner of the Kingdom of God, where there will be peace, understanding, love and forgiveness, union and community between all peoples, whatever their last name, the zip code of where they live, or the color of their skin.

Father Donnell Kirchner, CSsR, of Liguori, Mo., received a degree in moral theology in Rome and taught for 39 years as a Redemptorist priest in Brazil.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2013

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