Thursday, November 1, 2012

"God’s good servants first"

Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops indicate how Catholics ought to be thinking about next week's elections: "On the 2012 Elections." It is a good reminder to all of us of some of the things at stake. From their letter:
...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 enslave men in the minor details of life”—because the more the state provides, the more it inevitably controls. ....

Today Catholics face a growing and deeply troubling effort that seeks to extend the reach of government into every aspect of social life. In turn, this generates a demand for exclusive allegiance of individuals and groups to the requirements of the State. This demand denies the primacy of associations that exist prior to the State, such as the family, church or synagogue, and even fraternal and charitable agencies. These groups enjoy a priority both chronologically, in terms of historical development, and practically, inasmuch as they engage the vast majority of activity in our everyday lives.

As Christians we do owe an appropriate loyalty to the State. We strive to maintain good relations with civil authority. But our primary allegiance must always be to God and to God alone. As St. Thomas More once said so eloquently, we are God’s good servants first. .... [more]
On the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops | First Things