The Civic Duty of Catholics toward the Common Good
By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
God our Father, through the inner voice of our conscience, asks us each day about our brothers and sisters whose lives are being taken through abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia. Through our conscience, He asks us, too, about our protection of the sanctity of marriage and the family, in accord with His divine law. We are our “brother’s keeper.” Our vocation and mission in life, a true share in the vocation and mission of Christ our Savior, is to love our neighbor without boundaries. In our democratic republic, one of the important ways in which we fulfill our civic responsibility for the common good is by electing government leaders who respect and uphold the moral law.
We, like the sacristan in Bavaria [Day 1], must ask ourselves how it is possible that we have permitted a grave injustice to be perpetrated against an entire class of human beings by not legally protecting their lives. How is it possible that the grave evil of procured abortion has been legal in our nation for over 43 years, resulting in the deaths of over 55 million unborn children? How is it possible that so-called “mercy killing” is legal in some places in our nation? We must ask ourselves how it is possible that our nation may make the destruction of human embryos legal. We must ask ourselves how it is possible for our government to redefine the God-given gift of marriage, in opposition to the moral law. We must ask ourselves how it is possible for our nation to consider the legalization of human cloning which violates the dignity of human life and the sanctity of the marital union.
As Catholics, informed by the perennial moral teaching of the Church, we bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility for the attacks on human life and the family in our society. If all Catholics in our nation, both Catholic voters and Catholic government leaders, had joined those Catholics and others who upheld and continue to uphold the moral law, the grave evils which plague our society would be lessened and eventually eliminated. We cannot remain silent. We have a most serious obligation to bring the moral law to bear upon our life in society, so that the good of all will be served.
Recently, a devout Catholic, referring to a discussion over the current moral crises which our nation faces, which he had with friends at a social gathering, commented to me: “It is difficult to be a Catholic today.” He had experienced ridicule for his positions regarding the common good and a most distasteful attack on the moral authority of the Church and her pastors. Yet, he acknowledged that he, as a sincere Catholic, had no other alternative than to defend the teachings of Christ as held and handed down by the Church. Let us all pray for the wisdom and courage to give a full account of the moral law, taught to us by the Church, to our fellow citizens, and to defend the moral law for the sake of the good of all our brothers and sisters, especially our “least” brothers and sisters, with whom our Lord identifies Himself.
In these difficult times for our nation, let us turn to the Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe who visited our beloved continent in 1531. Her extraordinary appearances to St. Juan Diego had, by her own declaration, one sole good in view. She asked that a sanctuary be built in her honor, in order that she might show to all the loving mercy of God toward them. Through her apparitions, through her maternal love and intercession, the pagan practice of human sacrifice was ended and a mutual respect between Native Americans and Europeans was fostered, flowering into the mestiza culture, making two races and peoples one. Let us beg God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that He establish in our hearts a renewed respect for all human life and help us to end the killing of the innocent and defenseless. Through the prayers of the Mother of God, may our voting promote respect for all human life, safeguard the sanctity of marriage and the family, and foster the good of all. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may God bless you and your homes, and may He bless our nation, safeguarding the good of all its citizens.
Excerpts from Pastoral Letter “On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good”, 1 October, 2004.
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Lord God, as the election approaches, I seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront my city, my state and my country, and how the Gospel compels me to respond as a faithful Catholic and a citizen of Heaven and Earth.
I ask for eyes that are free from blindness and a mind that is free from darkness. Please grant me the grace to love You more and to love my neighbor as myself. Make me truly a Christian without Borders so that I may cherish every teaching of the Catholic Faith and love each and every one of my brothers and sisters, especially those in most need.
Give me the strength to choose Your will above all things and to stand for what is right! I pray for the courage to defend the innocent, protect the helpless, and oppose abuse and deceit.
I ask for ears that will hear the cries of the millions of unborn children massacred through abortion. I ask for the grace not to be deceived by the voices of evil, error and darkness. I ask that my mind and heart may be open to the Truth; I ask for greater Faith and the strength and valor to defend the family and true marriage.
My dear Jesus, grant me discernment so that I may choose leaders who hear Your Word, live Your love, and walk in the ways of Your truth. Shed Your light and mercy upon us, and guide us to Your Heavenly Kingdom. Amen
At this crucial moment in the history of our beloved country, let us turn to Our Blessed Mother and pray:
O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.
Most Holy Mother, we beg You to reclaim this land for the glory of Your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to You from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in Your motherly protection.
Under Your title of the Immaculate Conception, You are the Patroness of the United States. Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of Your people. Open our minds to the immense value of souls and renew in us a profound respect for the sanctity of life. Bring an end to the merciless and senseless killing of the innocent and the defenseless. Please grant us the grace to understand the serious responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
May our voting in this election promote respect for all human life, safeguard the sanctity of marriage and the family, and foster the good of all.
Through Your intercession, may God bless our homes and our nation! Amen.