Catholic social teaching goes well beyond abortion. In America we have many urgent issues that beg for our attention, from immigration reform to health care to poverty to homelessness. The Church in Denver and throughout the United States is committed to all these issues. We need to do a much better job of helping women who face problem pregnancies, and American bishops have been pressing our public leaders for that for more than 30 years. But we don't "help" anyone by allowing or funding an intimate, lethal act of violence. We can't build a just society with the blood of unborn children. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right -- and if we ignore it, sooner or later every other right becomes politically contingent.It's also worth noticing what Archbishop Chaput says about those who choose to be loyal to their political parties, instead of being loyal to their faith, traditions and moral values.
One of the words we heard endlessly in the last U.S. election was "hope." I think "hope" is the only word in the English language more badly misused than "love." It's our go-to anxiety word -- as in, "I sure hope I don't say anything stupid tonight." But for Christians, hope is a virtue, not an emotional crutch or a political slogan. Virtus, the Latin root of virtue, means strength or courage. Real hope is unsentimental. It has nothing to do with the cheesy optimism of election campaigns. Hope assumes and demands a spine in believers. And that's why - at least for a Christian -- hope sustains us when the real answer to the problems or hard choices in life is "no, we can't," instead of "yes, we can."
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Here's a great speech by the Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. The Archbishop had been invited to Toronto, to address the themes from his book, "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life." He presented some background and thoughts on the book and then discussed the US election and the meaning of true hope.