Posted by: fvbcdm | February 19, 2014

Commemoration of Blessed Alvarez of Cordova (19 February 2014)

Recently I had dinner with friends and the conversation turned, as it often does nowadays, to the subject of politics and religion. In our American life right now the two are very much intertwined, especially in terms of abortion and things like prayer in public places and even the mention of God and the display of the Ten Commandments in public.

I strongly believe that our basic emotional make-up has a lot to do with our religious/political stance. If you stop and think of it, we tend emotionally to be either conservative or liberal, to use two terms that have become somewhat standard in these matters. When I was a child and Franklin Roosevelt was president, I was constantly hearing that he was the savior of the nation (from the depression, that is) and that his administration was wise and good. Thus as I approached the age of voting, I thought of myself as a Democrat. Then came my entrance into religious life in 1956 and my ordination to the priesthood in 1963. And things began to change. Vatican II occurred, and it was used as an excuse for all sorts of kooky people to try to foist all sorts of kooky ideas upon the Church and the world. By far, the greater number of those people were liberals who questioned just about every doctrinal and moral principle of Catholicism and did their best to destroy religious life as we had known it and caused thousands upon thousands of priests and religious to renounce their religious vows and commitments. However, there was also the ultra-conservative wing of those trying to foist their opinions upon the Church. They were represented by the French churchman, Archbishop Lefebvre, who was eventually excommunicated for consecrating bishops without the authorization of the Holy See and thus beginning a schism which still exists. Seeing the devastation being visited upon the Church by the liberals, I began to side politically with the Republican party in this country. Our last presidential election has indicated that I am in the majority in that opinion. The Protestant George W. Bush is certainly more Catholic in his views of the life-and-death abortion issue than was his Catholic opponent, John Kerry, who was and is a deep embarrassment to the Church in our country and the world.

The Church must walk a fine line in this matter. Not everything that the Republicans do is morally right, nor everything the Democrats do is morally wrong, from the viewpoint of those like me who identify ourselves as Republicans. Our Holy Father was certainly opposed to the American invasion of Iraq, and said so very clearly time and again. And the Church warns us against blindly following a given political party in all its opinions and activities. We must consider every issue on its own merits and not simply because it is promoted by this or that party. And we must be careful not to be emotionally swayed by this or that man or woman in political life. When Bill Clinton was president, I loathed all that he stood for so much that I couldn’t bring myself to pronounce his name; however I was aware that he just might do something good.                     

Once, just after World War II, Pope Pius XII forbade the Catholics in Italy to vote for the Communist party, which was very strong in the nation at that time, and he did so under pain of excommunication. There are those in our country who think that the Church should be that forceful now in our present political situation. But that is not possible. Neither of our two political parties are anywhere as evil or godless as was Leninist Communism, so the Church cannot contradict her own principles by condemning the entire party out of hand. We must simply be aware of the issues, pray for guidance, listen to what our politicians are saying, watch what they are doing, and then vote accordingly. Thank you for allowing God to love you.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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