E Pluribus Unum, From Many, One

First of all, let me say congratulations to President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joseph Biden on their victory in yesterday’s American presidential race.  As anyone who has followed the election knows, it was a hard-fought and often contentious campaign. President Obama and Vice-President Biden, as well as their Republican opponents Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan were frequently pointed in their articulations of their philosophical and practical differences.

What I want to point out, and this is my second point, though the election was hard it was also fundamental peaceful. Given this and the history of presidential elections, America will no doubt remain peace even as we, in the coming weeks and months, debate the myriad differences that separate us politically.

If the Medieval period was an era of faith, the Modernity (and post-Modernity) adopts a more ironic tone. This isn’t to say that irony was absent in the Middle Ages or that faith—even Christian faith—is absent from our own. But our age seems to prefer to speak ironically. So it is worth noting, and this is my third point, that the irony of this election is that it highlights for us that what most unites Americans are our differences.  E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. Continue reading

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Reflections on Election Day

Unapologetically, I am an advocate of the free market and the American experiment. For reasons both moral and practical, I think it is better to allow people to make their own decisions on economic matters and in politics. But this doesn’t mean that I think the decisions we make are immune from moral judgment. Sometimes we misuse our freedom and pursue goals that are not commensurate with human dignity.

This all came to mind this morning when I read a post by Mary G. Leary (The $6 Billion Question). She writes that during this presidential election cycle, “People have argued, debates have occurred, pundits have postulated, and the proxies have predicted the ‘inevitable’ effects of the ‘other side’ winning.” And at least some candidates from both political parties have behaved in a manner reminiscent “to young men during the first week of a new dating relationship.” How? By promising “to change our lives in countless miraculous and, more than likely, unattainable ways.”

But here is where Leary’s concern and mine converge is not over what we are saying but what we are as a people leaving unsaid and so unexamined. Continue reading

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Liturgy and Elections

Earlier today, I read Fr Patrick Henry Reardon’s pastoral letter “This Year’s Election” (you can download the pdf here). Like Fr Patrick, if it is at all possible I avoid discussions on partisan politics. The only exception is on those issues  where the Church has clearly spoke. I think Father has identified three of these areas.

First, the origin of human rights. These, since they come directly from the hand of God, are determined by the moral law. That is to say, no political institution can give citizens a right to do something wrong—not the Constitution, not the Congress, not the Supreme Court.

Second, the unborn child in the womb has an absolute right to be born. This right, which comes from God, is subject to no qualifying circumstances, including the conditions of the child’s conception and the health of the mother. One may not murder an unborn baby. A baby in the womb has the same right to life as its mother and her doctor.

Third, marriage is the union of a man and woman. This principle, rooted in God’s creating act, can be altered by no decision of any institution or agency of government. No one can be given a right to do a wrong. Whatever name is conferred upon it, state-sponsored sodomy is an abomination to the created order. It is a radical offense against the divine Logos.

Unfortunately, this puts the Church in a more critical posture toward the Democratic Party. We shouldn’t however assume from this that the Republican Party is somehow the “Orthodox” choice or that its policies are exempt from criticism. Much less can we assume that one party and not the other has received the Church’s blessing. In fact,

About policies—most questions of political concern—we may expect some legitimate disagreements among Christians. Among these we should include questions about the application of civil punishments, the funding of public education, the tax code, the authority of federal agencies, this or that social program, and so forth. These matters, properly governed by prudence, leave much room for legitimate disagreements among Christians.

But, there are “matters on which there can be no legitimate disagreement among Christians.” And this places Orthodox Christians I think in a difficult position. Continue reading

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Christian Values Aren’t Enough

Parents who raise their children with nothing more

English: Christus Pantocrator in the apsis of ...

Christus Pantocrator in the apsis of the cathedral of Cefalù.

than Christian values should not be surprised when their children abandon those values. If the child or young person does not have a firm commitment to Christ and the truth of the Christian faith, the values will have no binding authority, nor should we expect that they would. Most of our neighbors have some commitment to Christian values, but what they desperately need is salvation from their sins. That does not come by Christian values, no matter how fervently held. Salvation comes only by the Gospel of 

Jesus Christ.

Human beings are natural-born moralists, and moralism is the most potent of all the false gospels. The language of “values” is the language of moralism and cultural Protestantism — what the Germans called Kulturprotestantismus. This is the religion that produces cultural Christians, and cultural Christianity soon dissipates into atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of non-belief. Cultural Christianity is the great denomination of moralism, and far too many church folk fail to recognize that their own religion is just Cultural Christianity — not the genuine Christian faith

Read more  Albert Mohler.

Substitute “Cultural Orthodoxy” for “Cultural Christianity” and I think it applies. Does this mean that culture doesn’t matter or that we shouldn’t work to bring society into a ever closer harmony with the Gospel? Of course not! Important, essential really, though culture is, it is not sufficient for salvation. And this applies to both those Orthodox Christians who are cultural conservatives as well as to those who are cultural progressives. That I can justify theologically my cultural or political views is not to suggest that these views exhaust the mystery of salvation. Rather the best I can say is that my views are compatible with the Gospel.

Thoughts?

In Christ,+Fr Gregory

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Democratic Platform Includes Free Abortions, Official ‘Gay Marriage’ Support

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(Source: Catholics For The Common Good).

By Michelle Bauman

Charlotte, NC, Sep 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News)– For the first time in American history, a major U.S. political party has incorporated support for a redefinition of marriage into its official statement of beliefs.

The Democratic Party’s platform, formally adopted at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 4, supports “marriage equality,” a phrase used by those who wish to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples.

The platform, which outlines the party’s official views on a variety of subjects, called for the full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes and protects states from being forced to recognize the gay unions of other states.

It also called for the passage of the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, which would require the federal government to recognize same-sex “marriages.”

While the document voiced support for the freedom of “churches and religious entities” to determine how “marriage as a religious sacrament” should be administered, it did not include any mention of individuals or groups that hold religious objections to recognizing and supporting civil marriage.

It also noted that the administration has redefined the word “family” in immigration regulations to include homosexual relationships.

Affirming its support of abortion with no restrictions, a redefinition of marriage and free birth control for all women, the Democratic Party said in its official statement of positions that it is committed to “pursuing policies that truly value families.”

The platform also recognized the importance of good fathers and noted President Obama’s initiatives to support and encourage fatherhood.

“We all have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children,” it said.

The president has drawn criticism for acknowledging the irreplaceable role of fathers while at the same time undermining this important role by supporting “same-sex marriage,” which renders fathers unnecessary and optional.

The Democratic platform also removed references to “God” but noted that faith-based organizations have played a “central” role throughout American history. It called for “constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests.”

“There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution,” the document said, “and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.”

At the same time, the party voiced its support for the controversial federal mandate that requires employers to offer health care plans that include free contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

Widely criticized for its infringement upon conscience rights and freedom of religion, the mandate has drawn the opposition of individuals and organizations from across the religious and political spectrum, including objections from bishops in every Catholic diocese in the U.S.

However, the Democratic Party’s official statement of beliefs argued that the president “has respected the principle of religious liberty” in promoting “affordable family planning services.”

The party reiterated its commitment to “safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay” and opposed any restrictions or attempts to “weaken or undermine that right.”

In addition, it observed that Obama issued an executive order to repeal restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research and voiced support for “evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education,” although it did not elaborate on which types of sex education it considers to meet these criteria.

The platform also said that America must advance its “core set of universal values” around the world.

“President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to supporting family planning around the globe,” it said, highlighting the president’s decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, which bans U.S. funds from supporting foreign family planning groups that promote or perform abortions.

Insisting that “gay rights are human rights,” the party also said that the State Department is currently “funding a program that finances gay rights organizations” and vowed to “actively combat” the actions of other nations that it believes are engaged in “discrimination.”

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