The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More politics? Praise and thanksgiving at the jail.

No matter how I try to focus on other issues, I keep coming back to politics and the upcoming election. I suppose I should actually say current election, since here in Florida the polls opened this morning for early voting. Personally, I'll be glad when it's all over, but until then...

Some interesting things transpired in recent days. Archbishop Chaput of Denver argued that several prominent Catholics who have publicly supported Barack Obama "have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn." Wow! I've always found the Archbishop to be sensible and clear-thinking, but now have to add courageous as well. (That's the Archbishop's photo above.)

Naturally his comments didn't go unnoticed by those in the hierarchy who would like abortion to just "go away" so they wouldn't have to apologize constantly for their favorite politicians. One bishop who disagrees with Archbishop Chaput is Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala who remarked that all those fervent anti-abortion Catholics are "mistaken" because the Catholic Church isn't a one-issue church. He wants Catholics to consider all issues, including economic issues that affect people's lives. Presumably, he believes that something like abortion would be trumped by these other issues.

Of course, all of this only leads to a confused Catholic citizenry. And the source of all the confusion, in addition to the politicians themselves, is the muddled statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on voting, Faithful Citizenship, that allegedly instructs Catholics on how to weigh critical issues when making decisions in the voting booth. Naturally, like most documents driven by the need to compromise, Faithful Citizenship, will only confuse any Catholic voter who takes the document seriously. After reading the document one can make a case for placing the willful destruction of 50 million innocent unborn children on a par with economic policies that negatively impact the lives of single mothers. This can be inferred because the document refuses to tell Catholics that they should never vote for any politician who supports abortion. I like the comment by Bishop Martino of Scranton, who tried to place things in proper perspective when he said, "No social issue has caused the death of 50 million people." He then went on to let his flock know that the USCCB document, Faithful Citizenship, is not relevant in his diocese. Way to go, Bishop!

Here in Florida we have the opportunity to vote on a state constitutional amendment that will define marriage as a bond between only a man and a woman. I feel confident that it will pass, but I've been fooled before.

I spent the afternoon at our county jail sharing God's Word and His Love with the inmates. I spoke to them about grace, that wonderful undeserved gift of God that keeps our faith alive, gives us hope, and allows us to do God's will in the world by loving Him and each other. They appeared to respond well to what I shared with them. And they certainly enjoyed singing all those hymns when we made our joyful noise unto the Lord. Interestingly, not one of the inmates -- not a single man or woman -- ever mentioned the elections. It's amazing, isn't it? I guess they had other things on their minds.

I suppose the best thing we can do at this point, other than doing our civic duty by voting, is to pray that God's will be done in all things, including elections.

Praise God and thank Him today for creating you.

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