Friday, March 4, 2011

A Bishop, the Governor of Illinois, a Culture of Life, and Me

Depending on what issue's in play at the moment: I'm a hidebound, reactionary, uncaring conservative; a bleeding-heart, feel-good liberal; or something in between. That's making the assumption that the only possible philosophical positions are contemporary America's "conservative" and "liberal" world views. Sometime 'moderate' is added to the mix: and I've discussed that sort of thing before.

I'm 'none of the above.'

I'm a practicing Catholic, and much more interested in following the teachings of the Church than adhering to one of today's systems of mores.

I acknowledge that many Catholics living in America identify themselves as "conservative," or "liberal," and may align themselves closely with one of those ideologies. Others have identified me as "conservative" often enough to make me think that label is somewhat appropriate for me.

On the other hand, I've been asked if I'm a bleeding-heart liberal.

Like I said, I'm a practicing Catholic. I've got very definite values: and make an effort to align those values with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Which probably makes me seem 'indecisive,' or 'vague.'

Take life issues, for example.

It's 'obvious' that the Catholic Church is run by radical conservatives, since abortion isn't allowed. Neither is killing people who are old, sick, or in the way: but that isn't discussed quite as much. Not in 'polite' society, it seems.

It's equally 'obvious' that the Catholic Church is a nest of soft-headed liberals, since the death penalty is frowned upon. Which is what got me started writing this post:
"Bishops Urge Illinois Governor to Sign Bill Ending Death Penalty"
USCCB News Release, Office of Media Relations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (March 3, 2011)

"Signing a bill to end the use of the death penalty would 'begin building a culture of life in our country,' said the bishop who oversees the domestic justice efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to the governor of Illinois.

"In his March 3 letter, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined the bishops of Illinois in urging Governor Pat Quinn to sign SB 3539, a bill that would end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and provide funds for training for law enforcement and services for families of murder victims.

" 'I hope and pray that you will take this essential step by signing SB 3539 and further Illinois' leadership role in turning away from the death penalty with all its moral problems and issues of fairness and justice,' wrote Bishop Blaire.

"Bishop Blaire also cited the opposition of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II to the death penalty and quoted the 2005 statement of the U.S. bishops, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death: 'Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.'

"The full text of Bishop Blaire’s letter follows:

"Dear Governor Quinn:

"On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I join the Catholic bishops of Illinois and urge you to sign SB 3539, which would end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and provide funds for training for law enforcement and services to families of murder victims.

"Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, have called for the end to the use of the death penalty as a sign of greater respect for all human life. In A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, the Catholic bishops of the United States wrote 'Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.' The legislation before you would help to begin building a culture of life in our country.

"I hope and pray that you will take this essential step by signing SB 3539 and further Illinois’ leadership role in turning away from the death penalty with all its moral problems and issues of fairness and justice.
Sincerely,


"Most Rev. Stephen E. Blaire
"Bishop of Stockton
"Chairman, USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development"
The Catholic Church isn't absolutely against the death penalty, by the way. The Bishop of Stockton explained the situation pretty well. There's a bit more in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2263-2267.

And I've opined a bit, myself. With the full authority of "some guy with a blog."

My take onIn the news:

2 comments:

Joseph Therese said...

As I say, the death penalty isn't intrinsic because it only sometimes involves the taking of innocent life, abortion always does.

I generally ignore the USCCB "teachings" as well they have no authority except when the Regnito is given by Rome (which by the way almost never happens)

It is however interesting to see how the Church is painted as supporting various political ideologies depending on the issue.

Brian Gill said...

Joseph Therese,

I can't responsibly ignore what the USCCB says, since I live in their territory.

While I recognized that the bishops in this country do not have the same level of authority as the Bishop of Rome - I must recognize that their authority comes from the same source: the commission given by my Lord to Peter.

Thanks for restating what I thought was an important point: that the Catholic Church isn't 'for' any one group (and, by implication, 'against' others).

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