Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Civic Responsibility for the Common Good

Although he wrote his Pastoral Letter on Civic Responsibility for the Common Good back in 2004, Cardinal Raymond Burke’s words are more than ever relevant for us today – for 2012 and for the years ahead of us.  Here are some extracts from the document:
‘We are morally bound in conscience to choose leaders at all levels of government who will best serve the common good, “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”  “[T]he sum total of social conditions” embraces a wide spectrum of concerns which the Catholic voter must have before his or her eyes, for example, safeguarding the right to life and the sanctity of marriage and the family; securing domestic and international peace; promoting education and public safety; assisting those suffering from poverty; providing sufficient and safe food, health care and adequate housing; eliminating racism and other forms of injustice; and fostering justice in the work place.
‘The “fulfillment” which the common good helps us to attain is not self-fulfillment in the popular sense.  It is, rather, the fulfillment of God’s plan and destiny for us and our world.  […]
‘In considering “the sum total of social conditions,” there is, however, a certain order of priority, which must be followed.  Conditions upon which other conditions depend must receive our first consideration.  The first consideration must be given to the protection of human life itself, without which it makes no sense to consider other social conditions.  […]
‘The safeguarding of human life is understandably foundational to all other precepts of the natural law.   […]
‘The Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of procured abortion forbids the destruction of human beings from the moment of fertilization through every stage of their development.  It is intrinsically evil to destroy human embryos, even for some intended good. […]
‘ “This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos.  This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted ink some countries. … [I]t must nonetheless be stated that the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.” (Evangelium Vitae)   […]
‘Another intrinsic moral evil which seemingly is growing in acceptability in our society is euthanasia.   […] Our thoroughly secularised society fails to understand the redemptive meaning of human suffering, while, at the same time, it views a human life burdened by advanced years, serious illness or special needs as unworthy and too burdensome to sustain. […]
‘Another moral concern of our time touches both upon the inviolability of human life and upon the sanctity of marriage and the family, in which human life has its beginning and receives its first and most important education.  The attempt to generate human life “without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning or parthenogenesis” is a grave violation of the moral law.  […]
‘Another moral concern touching upon marriage and the family, which is of particular urgency in our time, is the movement to recognize legally as a marriage a relationship between two persons of the same sex.  Such legal recognition of a same-sex relationship undermines the truth about marriage, revealed in the natural law and the Holy Scriptures, namely that it is an exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman, which of its very nature cooperates with God in the creation of new human life.   […]  Likewise, the legal recognition of a homosexual relationship as marriage redounds to the grave harm of the individuals involved, for it sanctions and even encourages gravely immoral acts.
‘Among the many “social conditions” which the Catholic must take into account in voting, the above serious moral issues must be given the first consideration.  The Catholic voter must seek, above every other consideration, to protect the common good by opposing these practices which attack its very foundations.   Thus, in weighing all of the social conditions which pertain to the common good, we must safeguard, before all else, the good of human life and the good of marriage and the family. […]’
Time and space have prevented me from quoting at greater length from Cardinal Burke’s pastoral.

I would like, however, to direct you to a recent interview that Cardinal Burke gave to EWTN/CNA News, when he stated that it is ‘critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law’, especially in defence of life and the family.  We should take particular note, too, of the Cardinal’s devotion to and admiration of St. Thomas More, Patron Saint of Lawyers and of Politicians.   Referring to St. Thomas’s last words before his execution – ‘I die the King’s good servant but God’s first’, Cardinal Burke said that by these words St. Thomas showed how he served his king best, and served the law best, by serving God.   What an example to us today, when we are being bombarded on all sides by immoral laws and practices that are so lethal to the common good of society