Archive for the ‘Catholic Public Officials’ Category

Choosing the Wrong Standard

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I’m not the product of a Jesuit education. The Sisters of Charity bear most of the responsibility for how I turned out. But I have always had a liking for St. Ignatius Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises.

During the second week of the Exercises, those who are on the retreat receive a meditation on the Two Standards. This, to me, is a powerful expression of the decision that is at the very core of Christian discipleship.

The meditation asks us bluntly — whose standard or flag will we follow, Christ’s or Satan’s?

Satan’s standard, of course, is the one that the world finds most attractive, because it superficially appeals to our fallen human nature. It offers us the desire for worldly possessions, power, honor, and a false view of freedom that is a disguise for immorality. In the end, though, it leads only to destruction.

Christ’s standard, on the other hand, is the one that the world finds unattractive, because it appeals to values that are exemplified by Our Lord himself, whom the world rejected. It offers us humility, poverty, sacrifice, and authentic freedom that involves willing adherence to God’s will. And in the end it leads to glory.

There is no doubt which standard the world holds out to us. Check out pretty much any television channel and you’ll get an eyeful.

I bring this up because of the tragic spectacle of Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Raised a Catholic, Gov. Sebelius has mapped out an egregious pro-abortion record as governor of that state. She has associated with, and embraced the support of, the infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller. She even hosted an event at her governor’s mansion in honor of him and posed smiling for pictures with him — a man who specializes in killing infants in their last months in the womb. She has consistently opposed pro-life legislation, and has repeatedly vetoed bills like a ban on partial birth abortion. It got so bad that her own bishop, after trying privately to convert her to the Standard of Christ, had to publicly admonish her not to present herself for Communion until she publicly repudiates her pro-abortion positions.

Heedless of this record, the President nominated her to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a department with tremendous influence over health policy in our country. Pro-life advocates strongly opposed her, but her nomination seemed to be on track for confirmation, along with the power, honor, and prestige that offers.

Then the Kansas legislature passed a new pro-life bill, one that would have limited late-term abortions, as well as other common-sense measures to restrict and regulate abortions. Gov. Sebelius was thus presented with yet another opportunity to choose the Standard of Christ.

Instead, she vetoed the bill, grossly failing in her duty as a baptized Christian to love and serve the least among us.

She chose the wrong Standard.

God alone will judge Gov. Sebelius. That’s above my pay grade, as someone once said. But for my part, I pray that Gov. Sebelius will repent of her decision, and return to the Standard of Christ. We need strong Christian witnesses in public office, and her conversion to the cause of life would be the source of great rejoicing. Her continued adherence to the Standard of Satan, though, can only be mourned.

We all have the same choice to make. Which Standard will it be? We need to choose wisely.

Catholic Congressional Representatives? Prove it.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Recent news reports state that 30% of our newly-elected Congress describe themselves as being Catholic. I guess we’re supposed to be proud of that.

But will their professed religious identity show itself in their voting records?

Hardly, if the past is prologue.

We currently have had sixteen Congressional representatives from New York who describe themselves as Catholic; twelve of them served in previous Congresses, and four are brand new. Let’s take a look at the career voting record of those who previously served, on the core issues of concern to Catholics, as defined by the Holy See and our bishops — pro-life issues (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etc.). That should be a pretty good test of how the Catholic faith of our representatives affects their votes.

If that’s the test, very few of them pass. According to the records of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, their collective voting record during that time, in terms of agreement with the Church’s position, was a paltry 26%. 26%. 26%!

Some of the representatives have a very fine record. Peter King is 122 for 122 — a perfect pro-life record. And John McHugh is 111 for 117 — excellent.

But the rest of our representatives have abominable records. Michael Arcuri, 0 for 6; Tim Bishop, 0 for 27; Joe Crowley, 18 for 65; Kristen Gillibrand, 0 for 6; Brian Higgins, 0 for 15; Maurice Hinchey, 1 for 119; Carolyn McCarthy, 6 for 90; Charles Rangel, 2 for 192; Jose Serrano, 1 for 130; Nydia Velazquez, 2 for 117.

Yes, that’s right. This collection of Catholic public officials managed to vote pro-life only 30 times out of a total of 767 votes — just 4% of the time. Just to put this in context, the non-Catholic representatives voted pro-life 12 out of 1136 times — only 1%. So there’s virtually no significant difference in voting record between most of our Catholic representatives and the non-Catholics.

Hey, guys, listen up. Catholicism isn’t an ethnic identity, or a club membership, or a nice line for your official biography. It’s a call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to love Him above all else, to follow His commandments as taught by His Church, and to love others, especially the weak and the helpless — even the unborn.

Faith isn’t something that we jettison when we walk out into the public square, or into the Halls of Congress. It belongs there more than anyplace.

The Second Vatican Council said it best:

Because of the very economy of salvation the faithful should learn how to distinguish carefully between those rights and duties which are theirs as members of the Church, and those which they have as members of human society. Let them strive to reconcile the two, remembering that in every temporal affair they must be guided by a Christian conscience, since even in secular business there is no human activity which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion. (Lumen Gentium 36)

So you want to be known as being Catholic? Fine. Prove it.