March 15, 2019


Saying no to political parties

Does the Catholic Church always have to say no?

In order to be a good Catholic, must we also have to say no? It often seems so.

Just look at recent events. We recently editorialized about the dispute between New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the new law passed by the New York legislature enshrining the right of abortion in that state. Obviously, the Catholic Church must say no to anything that allows a mother to kill her child, whether born or unborn.

The Church also said no to redefining marriage because of its teaching that marriage can be only between one man and one woman.

On those issues, the Church is on the side of the political right in the United States. It’s on the side of the administration of President Donald J. Trump.

But the Church must also say no to President Trump—and side with the political left—when it comes to immigration and other social justice issues.

Therefore, when President Trump called a national state of emergency after the U.S. Congress refused to budget the money he wanted to build a wall on our southern border, the U.S. Catholic bishops had to oppose the president.

The bishops who live along the southern border issued a statement that said, “In our view, a border wall is first and foremost a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. Furthermore, the wall would be an ineffective use of resources at a time of financial austerity. It would also destroy parts of the environment, disrupt the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers, weaken cooperation and commerce between border communities, and, at least in one instance, undermine the right to the freedom of worship.”

The statement was signed by the bishops of San Diego, Laredo, San Antonio, Tucson, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces, whose dioceses are along the border, but also by Cardinals Joseph W. Tobin (former archbishop of Indianapolis, now of Newark, N.J.), Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, among others.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, made a separate statement, saying, “We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”

The dozen or so bishops along the border, plus the cardinals, said, “The truth is that the majority of persons coming to the U.S.-Mexico border are asylum-seekers, many of whom are women and children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. Along their journey to safety, they encounter many dangers. A wall would not keep them safe from those dangers. Rather, a wall would further subject them to harm by drug cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers.”

Thus, the Catholic Church in the United States supports President Trump on what many term “life” issues, but opposes him on what many view as “social justice” issues.

The Catholic Church is consistent in its positions on public policy, unlike our two major political parties. As the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults says, “The Church continues to apply principles flowing from her faith to public policy, most notably in her teaching on the dignity of the human person and the culture of life. The Church’s advocacy for the poor, the elderly, children, and immigrants are further examples of the Church’s commitment to advance social justice in America. The Church’s unflagging pro‑life stand is an outstanding example of calling our society and government to protect life from conception to natural death” (page 43).

Therefore, it does seem that good Catholics must always be saying no to some things that are going on in our society. Neither of the major political parties is consistent when it comes to the dignity of the human person. Therefore, we must disagree with the policies of our party when they are morally wrong.

We also should do whatever we can to change those policies, if we’re in a position to do so. That’s why the bishops speak out on moral issues and why good Catholics should follow their example.

—John F. Fink

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!