"We're Better Citizens When We're More Faithful Catholics"

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Explains Guidelines for True Catholic Citizenship

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By Pietro Gennarini

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, in his weekly column yesterday called on his faithful to reflect on the implications of being Catholic in politics, insightfully affirming the legitimacy of bringing faith into the public square and offering five clear guidelines to his faithful for the upcoming Presidential elections.

“Catholic citizenship”, as he names it, implies that “we have a commitment to the common good and to the dignity of each human person.” When these are threatened by political candidates, he urged Catholics to exercise their voting power reminding them, that it is “not just a religious duty but also a democratic duty.” By clarifying the meaning of the separation between Church and State, he affirmed that “it’s very much the job of the Church to guide Catholics to think and act in accord with their faith.”

The first point warned against personal interpretations of the word catholic. “We don’t control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the Gospel and the experience of the Church,” he explained. In the second, likening being Catholic to marriage, he underlined how God wants to see evidence of ones love “by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes”.

Thirdly he specified that, “the Church is not a political organism,” and so it eludes all kinds of partisanship which only damage its mission. This does not mean that Scripture and Catholic teaching do not have public consequences, is his fourth point. These are their “natural byproduct,” so that one cannot be indifferent to the situation of immigrants, the poor and the killing of unborn children. His last point affirmed the need to follow conscience, made healthy only by submitting to God’s will which is found by “listening to the counsel of the Church and trying honestly to live in accord with her guidance.”

“We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation,” he concluded.

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