Bishop Kalabat Letter to the Faithful on Voting

October 1, 2020

Bishop Kalabat Letter to the Faithful on Voting

Bishop Kalabat Letter to the Faithful on Voting 1500 843 Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle U.S.A
 

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October 1, 2020

Beloved Sons and Daughters,

As the election season is upon us, let us be mindful of the solemn responsibility that rests upon us to promote and fulfill our obligation to vote. This obligation has very strong consequences because the Church and government must work together to bring about peace and strive towards making the Kingdom of God present. St. Paul recognized this by asking that prayers go to civil leaders in order to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”[1] Therefore, our first duty as Christians is to pray for all people and for the candidates who will lead us.

Inspired by prayer, we are called by God to select candidates and policies that promote and build a civilization of love and justice. This was echoed by Pope Francis when he said, “An authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.”[2] Therefore, our duty as disciples of Jesus is to go forth and proclaim this message of peace and love, and to elect candidates that share in this mission.

There are those who argue that the Church has no business in politics, citing their understanding of the separation of Church and State. The Church’s mission is to stand against injustices and protect all persons from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death; regardless of race, sex, or creed. The Church must protect immigrants, combat poverty, care for creation, defend those who are defenseless, especially those in the womb, defend the truth of marriage, and protect the family. The moral principles outlined here “provide a moral framework that does not easily fit ideologies of ‘right’ or ‘left’, ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, or the platform of any political party. They are not partisan or sectarian, but reflect fundamental ethical principles that are common to all people.”[3]

Love and Truth

The Church has the moral obligation to proclaim ethical principles by means of faith and reason through love. We must remember that love and truth are always united and can never be separated. As Pope Benedict stated, “Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within [the work of] charity (love), but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practiced in the light of truth.”[4] Furthermore, Pope St. John Paul II called special attention “to the essential bond between human freedom and truth, so that freedom which refused to be bound to the truth would fall into arbitrariness (uncertainty) and end up submitting itself to the vilest of passions, to the point of self-destruction.”[5] For this reason, love based upon truth, and not on emotions, is the means which we form our decisions, especially our political ones. With this foundation on objective moral truth supported by faith and reason, we seek to address the issues we face in our everyday lives; issues which include racism, global conflict, abortion, immigration, care for creation, drug use, and much more. Therefore, the Church recommends the election of civil leaders and decisive issues based upon principles, which are built upon Divine Truths and not arbitrary momentary emotional responses.

Human Life is Sacred

The first principle that grounds the Church’s social teaching and moral vision is the sacred dignity of the human person. The Church states that all human beings are children of God and we revere their lives and stand against “all activities that contribute to what Pope Francis has called ‘a throw-away culture.’”[6] By ignoring this first and most important principle, we inevitably do harm and spread hatred. There are attacks against the dignity of persons in many different forms. In good conscience, we cannot support candidates who do not view human life as sacred. We stand against candidates who support unjust wars, torture, the killing of innocent civilians, terrorism, abortion, infanticide, and assisted suicide. Instead the Church seeks laws and policies that protect and promote a culture of life; “by supporting laws and programs that encourage childbirth and adoption over abortion and by addressing poverty, providing health care, and offering other assistance to pregnant women, children, and families.”[7]

Subsidiarity

Another important concept in choosing a candidate is the economy and the economic policies that affirm the dignity of the human person. Each person must be valued as an end, where the economy serves for the good of the person, without treating them as a slave to the economy. The Church seeks to work toward the eradication of poverty and all forms of economic injustice. We are called to support policies that provide an opportunity for a person to rise out of poverty, protect the family, respect the inherent dignity of each person, and the dignity of work.

The Church’s teaching on the principle of subsidiarity is the means of achieving a just economy, where policies and principles should be handled by the lowest capable authority. [8] The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the government and larger institutions “should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions…[they] have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good.”[9] That is why specifically, the Catholic Church has rejected communism, socialism and forms of capitalism where the economy is seen as greater than the individual and treats the person as one piece of the overall machine.[10] Although socialism has become popular with many candidates, because of its alluring assistance to the poor, it must be rejected. Even though the media has several times labeled Pope Francis as a socialist, he has emphatically and directly rejected Marxism and Socialism like all the Popes before him. As Pope Francis proclaimed, “The Marxist ideology is wrong…The concern for the poor is a mark of the Gospel and Church tradition, rather than an invention of communism. I must say that communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian…Poverty is the center of the Gospel. The poor are at the center of the Gospel.”[11]

Other aspects of subsidiarity allow the family to be protected, uphold its individual rights to education, and allow for the opportunity to pursue a better life without governmental interference. Because parents are the primary educators of their children, it is the duty of the government to assist the family in this endeavor. Every child has the right to receive a fitting education and any policy that seeks to take that away should be rejected.

Common Good

Another important principle is how the candidate works for the common good. [12] The common good allows “people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”[13] The common good is based upon justice and peace, where we build a better world for future generations. As we look at candidates and policies, we must reject anyone or anything that upholds injustices, such as racism and sexism. We must also care for creation and help those societies who are most in need, especially those who do not enjoy the environmental protections like clean air, water, and basic human needs. Furthermore, assisting those who go without food, shelter, education, healthcare, and freedom of religion, is a way to promote the common good and a goal of the pro-life movement.

Solidarity

Compelled by the Gospel, the final principle is the principle of solidarity, in which we recognize that we as human beings are one family. We as Catholics should care for the poor, orphans, widows, and immigrants and refugees. Therefore, we must seek policies and candidates that help the poor among us as well as welcome those who are fleeing their country in search for a better future for themselves and their family. There are many of us who have accomplished and live out the “American dream,” but it is now our duty to help those who seek a better life for themselves and their families. Pro-immigration policies are crucial here in the United States. The Catholic Church teaches that every country has the right to protect itself and create border protections to stop illegal immigration. The Church has also called upon all countries that are able to accept refugees to do so as an act of mercy.

Conclusion

Finally, as you come to think about your involvement in the political world, consider doing more than voting. Many of us only think about politics during election years. However, we have primaries, we have laws, and we have policies that are advanced. If you feel called, take an active role in politics by working with lawmakers in establishing policies that support life, or even consider running for political office. For those in our community who have responded to this call, let us find a way to support them but only if they follow these principles. As we reflect upon our civic responsibilities, let us also accept our duty to build a just, loving, and caring society. In doing so, it unifies all people through love and truth by promoting candidates and policies that reflect God’s vision for His creation. Let us build together the Kingdom of God and may His love and grace overshadow us and all creation, now, at all times, and forever.

In Christ Through Mary,

Mar Francis Y. Kalabat
Bishop of the Chaldean Diocese
of St. Thomas the Apostle U.S.A.


[1] 1 Timothy 2:1-3
[2] Evangelli Gaudium, Encyclical of Pope Francis, no. 183
[3] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, no. 55
[4] Caritas in Veritate, Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI no. 2
[5] Centesimus Annus, Encyclical of John Paul II, no. 4.
[6] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 45
[7] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 65
[8] Centesimus Annus, no. 48: “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”
[9] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no 48.
[10] Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2425:  “The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with ‘communism’ or ‘socialism.’ She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of ‘capitalism,’ individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for ‘there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.’ Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.”
[11] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/is-the-pope-a-socialist-95558
[12] The principle of the common good helps us to accomplish this through “respect for the person..the social well-being and development of the group itself…[and] peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order.”  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1907-9
[13] Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution by Vatican II,  no. 26

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