Phoenix Book for Catholic Voters Available Free Online
A book for Catholic voters by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, just reprinted for the fourth time, aims to give Catholics specific and detailed advice about principles for voting, and how to apply them.
First published in 2006, Catholics in the Public Square is available to all Catholics to read online at no charge
In his introduction to the new addition, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles says that Catholics must look beyond parties and labels to principles, especially those supporting life and human dignity.
“God does not see the world through the limitations of our political categories of ‘left’ and ‘right’,’ ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,'” he says. “He is our Father and He sees only His children. When one of God’s children is suffering injustice, He calls the rest of us to love and compassion and to “make things right.” Our concern for human dignity and life can never be partial or a half-measure. How can we justify defending the dignity of some and not others or protecting God’s creation while neglecting some of His most vulnerable creatures?”
Principles that seem simple in the abstract can be difficult to apply in the messiness of real life, with real issues and candidates rather than ideal ones. Abortion and euthanasia, Archbishop Gomez says, must be seen as fundamental evils of our day, because they are “supported, promoted, and even paid for as part of government policy” and are “zealously defended by our society’s elites — those who shape public opinion and civic morality through government, the popular media, and education.”
Calling euthanasia an outgrowth of abortion and the combination “the great challenge for the Church’s social witness in our society,” Archbishop Gomez says social trends increasingly call for solving perceived problems by killing, “not only through abortion and assisted suicide, but also in the areas of the death penalty, human embryo research, and mandated contraception,” declaring:
It is this broader mentality — what Francis and previous popes have called a “culture of death”— that the Church must confront. That is why abortion and euthanasia are not just two issues among many or only questions of individual conscience. Abortion and euthanasia raise basic questions of human rights and social justice, questions of what kind of society and what kind of people we want to be. Do we really want to become a people that responds to human suffering by helping to kill the one who suffers? Do we really want to be a society where the lives of the weak are sacrificed for the comfort and benefit of those who are stronger? That is why any approach that essentially tolerates abortion and euthanasia or puts these issues on par with others, not only betrays the beautiful vision of the Church’s social teaching, but also weakens the credibility of the Church’s witness in our society.
The short book addresses voting and issues in 36 small sections of a few paragraphs, each of which can be read separately, in the style of an old-school catehcism. These include religious freedom (#34, “How serious are the current threats to religious freedom in the United States?”) the role of faith in politics (#11, “Should Catholics bring the Church’s doctrine into the public square?”), the different roles of business owners, private citizens, and politicians (#25), “What are the responsibilities of Catholics who own or operate businesses toward their employees and the society at large?”), ecological issues, immigration, and more.
It also touches on the duty of Catholics, both clergy and laymen, regarding politics; on how to define a “faithful Catholic” in terms of politics; on reception of Communion by those who persist in grave sin; and when Catholics can disagree on important political issues without those disagreements being sins.
Published by St. Benedict Press/TAN Books, with financial help from the Knights of Columbus, print copies of “Catholics in the Public Square” are being distributed in Phoenix. A Kindle version is available for 99 cents on Amazon.com, and the on-line version can be read at the link above.
“Bishop Olmsted wrote this booklet to better form Catholic lay people about their faith and responsibilities to their communities,” Robert DeFrancesco, communications director for the Diocese of Phoenix, told the Catholic News Agency. “According to Bishop Olmsted, it is important for Catholics to reflect on their role in public life, because we are called to live our faith all of the time wherever we are and whatever we are doing, not just at Mass on Sundays.”
Once the rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Bishop Olmstead was Bishop of Wichita before being named to the Phoneix diocese. A member of the Jesus Caritas fraternity of priests, he holds a master’s degree in theology, a doctorate in Canon Law, and spent almost 10 years in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. His 2015 letter and accompanying web page “Into the Breach” called upon men of all ages and all vocations in life to join the spiritual and temporal battle for life, family, and Christ – a battle, he said, that men have been taught to ignore.
“… Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men,” the letter begins. “This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own home.”
Photos courtesy the Diocese of Phoenix.
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