Catechism and political engagement
A catechism has just been issued by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life. It’s entitled, “A Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections.” Its purpose is to form and guide the consciences of the Christian faithful in their duties toward family and life especially as these values impact on our public life.
It has 15 points, with questions that go directly to the issues, and answers that while a bit kilometric are succinct enough to cover these issues sufficiently. It requires some effort, but it surely will also reward that effort.
I would say it’s a tremendous material that will go a long way in helping families and individual persons to be more consistent in their Christian faith and morals. Consistency in this case means the faithful’s duty as citizens also to promote and defend their family and life values in the political arena.
This is a very exciting challenge. For some time now, this aspect of the Christian life has been neglected, presumed to take care of itself by some naïve belief in an invisible hand, not realizing that powerful forces prowl our social and political life, taking advantage of the democratic atmosphere to retail their evil designs.
Thus, while churches may be full especially on Sundays, and public devotions and shows of popular piety are never lacking, we now have the anomalous situation where in our Congress we have lawmakers poised to legalize practices that are openly against morals, not to mention, our culture, scientific data, and even common sense.
I pray that this catechism be given widespread airing in the parishes, families, schools, companies, social groups, etc. I pray that it be studied by our politicians and the other leaders and prominent figures in the fields of media, business, sports and entertainment, etc.
A social network of sorts should be put up, with everyone taking the initiative to do whatever he can to spread this document. It can be uploaded in the Internet, emailed to friends, including discussion groups. It can be given especially to our public officials like our senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, etc.
We have to wake up. We cannot deny the fact that especially with this unavoidable trend toward globalization that certainly has its good aspects, we are also now getting entangled with a worldwide campaign to push wildly liberal ideas and values, unhinged from the sure core of beliefs of who we really are.
We cannot be brainless and idiotic before this disturbing development not only in our country but also in the whole world. Sad to say, many of our political and social leaders are playing deaf and dumb to the true character of these issues. They are playing footsie with powerful and moneyed ideologues.
This is not to mention that many of them profess to be good and pious Christians. They like to flaunt their Christianity around, making sure they are in the limelight in public occasions. But they are notoriously inconsistent with their Christian faith and morals.
Yes, we need to help them to leap from being Christian in name only (CINO) to Christian in life really (CILR). If they are humble enough to realize their need for conversion, there’s always hope.
The purveyors of these wild ideas cleverly use sophisms and casuistry to argue their points. And so, together with their generous dole-outs of money, they are quite successful already in mainstreaming the contraceptive mentality and in developing a sizable and noisy following.
But the truth is not with them. And that fact has to be exposed promptly and thoroughly. Silence in this case is a devil’s tactic. Thus, this Catechism comes in handy. It answers in the clearest terms, within the bounds of data, logic and charity, the questions often raised to distort if not disable the ethical aspects of these issues.
Among the points clarified in the Catechism are the often misunderstood doctrine on the separation of the Church and State, the role of Catholics and Christians in enriching the democratic system, the role of conscience in developing our positions and our duty to form it well.
Very significantly, the Catechism once again articulates why contraception is wrong, why the Reproductive Health Bill now pending approval in our Congress is dangerous, why voting for candidates who favor RH is not morally sound.
In all of this, let’s never forget that this political engagement is a struggle for truth and justice, for peace and love for all. Let’s not spoil it with petty quarrels and useless acrimony.
(Fr. Cimagala is the Chaplain of Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE), Talamban, Cebu City. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)