A forceful and inspiring statement from the united Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania. The entire statement is a must-read for Catholics aiming to inform their conscience according to the guidance of the Church.
Here’s the heart of their statement:
“The 2012 elections take place during the Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, this year is necessary because, while many people continue “to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society,” nevertheless “in reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, … it is often openly denied” . Today it is no longer the case, as it was for our country’s Founders, that religion can provide a shared moral framework and vocabulary for a pluralistic democracy. In fact, 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.”
This is profound. In addition to reading their entire statement, if you are looking for more good weekend reading on the proper role of government in protecting civil society and the rights of the individual, check out Yuval Levin’s two articles: “The Real Debate” and “Social Mobility and Civil Society“.
In that second article Levin takes a long look at the political philosophy of Paul Ryan on the concept of subsidiarity. If you haven’t seen CatholicVote’s video on Charity and Social Responsibility now’s your chance:
Please share and disseminate this far and wide over the weekend!