Denver Bishop Charles Chaput, whom I had the personal joy of meeting and hearing speak a few years ago, gave an address at a mass for Catholic public officials in Harrisburg, Pensylvania, just before the November elections. Chaput , who is one of my favorite bishops, makes profound and clear moral sense of chaotic sub-Christian thinking on a regular basis.
“The world does need to change, and in your vocation as public leaders, God is calling you to pursue that task with justice and charity with a love for the common good and a reverence for human life. The world needs committed Catholic laypeople like you to lead with humility, courage and love," said Bishop Chaput.
Chaput further argued that we often treat important things as a “gloss” so as to soften the meaning of the offensive passage thus making it much easier for us to live. St. Francis wanted to live sine glossa, said Chaput, that is without alibis or excuses.
Chaput right argues that modern liberalism has created a kingdom of “the imperial autonomous self” and calls it the will of God (or a goddess). Weird and unexpected alliances are the end result, alliances that make no sense except that they join irreconcilable parties in one group that can then put aside their various differences in order to attack Christ.
The bishop rightly noted that there are three political issues that are non-negotioable for morally serious Christians:
1. Protecting life
2. Promoting marriage
3. Protecting a parent’s rights to educate their children
If we do not make these central to our present human situation we fail at the most basic level to protect the weak and to promote true freedom. I am weary of people asking: "How would Jesus vote?" I much like the idea of posing this question through the thought of St. Francis, a true reformer who lived before we even had anything like 16th century Protestant reformers.
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I agree that going through someone like St Francis is better than saying what would Jesus vote, but why would St Francis pick these three? I would think that poverty issues would rank pretty high since that is what he spent most of his time working with, also St Francis was pretty anti-war and spent time trying to negotiate the end of one of the crusades. I just don’t understand the parent’s right to educate one. I think that we are putting that on Francis because he could not have conceived of public education and the issues that come up with that.
So my basic response is that I agree that St Francis would have been pro-life. But he was not married and the issue of homosexuality was not an issue that he dealt with as far as I know, he could not have understood a modern public education system, but he would have been very interested in the poor. So I think the Bishop is probably using St Francis to push his own agenda and not actually reading him very honestly.
If you could link the lecture that might be helpful.
My thoughts are similar to those of Adam. How could caring for the poor not be at the top of Francis’ list? Granted it is complicated. When it comes to our politics one cannot simply be for or against helping the poor. Some attempts to help are better than others. Though I am anti-abortion and gay marriage I must agree with those who are challenging these two issues as the most important.
Poverty yes, but knowing a little bit about St Francis, environmental issues would be right up there with poverty.