Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last-minute reading, in case you haven't been paying attention

The Church teaches that in order for a person to vote or make decisions with moral consequences, one's conscience must be formed properly.

To help in that formation process, the bishops exercise their role as teachers. While they teach consistently on a wide array of issues, in recent weeks Catholic citizens have seen an intensification of teaching at the convergence of citizenship and respect for life. Cardinal Rigali has led the way in this regard.

Anybody paying attention can't say he or she does not know Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and the importance of integrating it and the whole of the Church's social teaching in all that we do -- especially in the votes we cast in this election that is looking like a milestone if not a turning point in American history.

Still haven't heard this teaching?

Hear and watch for yourself the Cardinal's homily at the annual Red Mass he celebrated Oct. 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, or read the text.

Also, Bishop William Murphy of New York joined the Cardinal in a statement about the social and political steps needed to protect life.

Then there's the handy if little-known pamphlet by Bishop William Lori of Connecticut called "Conscience and the Catholic Voter" that's a quick, insightful read, or the full-length version.

Finally, or at least up until this point, Cardinal Rigali's latest column for the Catholic Standard & Times may be the most powerful statement yet on the link between faithful citizenship and respect for life. Read through to the end; it's compelling teaching.

And remember to make time for prayer. If you haven't begun saying the Faithful Citizenship Novena suggested by the U.S. Bishops' Conference, try praying aloud with the podcast (and don't miss other pod resources on the election) or silently with the written word.
Now is the time to raise up in prayer this moment of greatest importance for our country.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Voters Guide is just around the corner

It's Monday, so now that the yawns of the new week are out of the way, here's what's coming up in the CS&T on Thursday.

The voter's guide that we had planned to publish on Oct. 23 has been moved up by a week, to give voters a chance to read and digest the candidates' stands on issues near and dear to Cathoics and, hopefully, all people of good will. Before flipping the pages to get to the good stuff in the middle of the paper, go no further than page 2 for a few minutes. There's you'll find a statement from the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania.

They explain a few things, such as how there are many moral issues such poverty, war, immigration, care of creation and others. But there is one issue that leads them all and must be the primary consideration: protection of innocent human life and rejection of any policy that would threaten the right to life for everyone, from womb to tomb. It must be considered first and foremost. On the other hand, it cannot be the only consideration for voters.

Yes, this is a nuance. What it means is, every Catholic must put on his or her own thinking cap, read, understand and live out the social teaching of the Church especially with regard to the ultimate issue of justice -- the right to life. Then we each must weigh how (or if) the candidates address these teachings. Putting all that together and taking it to prayer, we can then enter the voting booth with a well-formed conscience. It enables us to cast a vote in the most responsible way possible.

It not only means we don't have to rely on being told how to vote -- the Bishops aren't going to do that in this or any election -- but also that we can better handle the moral challenges we face every day.

It's not easy. But then what aspect of living the Christian life in a challenging world is? As the election approaches, here's a way to pray for peace, justice and life: the novena for Faithful Citizenship.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

That "wow" is ours

A colleague was going about her work on Wednesday when she saw a copy of this week's CS&T fresh off the press. "Wow!" was her reaction to the photo above, one that we shoot for every week in designing the front page. The hope is that folks picking up a copy at church will have the same reaction, and become regular subscribers.

The realization behind the "wow" of the photo is that the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, which is hosting the Synod of Bishops that the CS&T is covering this week (along with Catholic News Service), is part of us. As much as we feel a sense of home for our own parish church, the ornate basilica is ours too. It's part of our heritage as members of the Catholic Church that we share in the gifts of the Church throughout the world. We may never be able to visit Rome and all its glorious churches (including St. Peter's), nor the high Middle Ages' masterworks such as Chartres or Notre Dame, but they too are ours.

But there's more to it than buildings. The modest churches of the developing world stand no bigger than most American homes, and they are ours, too. Again , we may never visit a village church in the Guatemalan highlands or teeming towns of India. But we know the vibrant faith expressed through the sacred liturgy in which we all share is part of us too.

Most important is the notion that the Catholic people bursting the walls of humble churches are just as much "us" as the neighbors in the pews around us each Sunday.

Our heritage is both high art and humble humanity, joined together in Jesus Christ through his Church.

Talk about a wow moment.