Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Politics in America

During my politically active life—from about age 25 when I began paying attention to the issues of the day—I have been a registered member of both of the major parties, beginning with the Democrats, a several year sojourn with the Republicans, and ending as an independent; putting my own spin on the adage that you begin political life as a dreamer, then get real, and then, in my case, become Catholic.

Becoming Catholic changed many of my opinions as I began to view policy positions through the perspective of Catholic theology and the social teaching.

As my study of Church teaching led me closer to the source of the magisterium, I learned to rely more on the Bishop of Rome than local Bishops as what came from the center of our faith held firm to the magisterium more so than the local bishops often did; and learning that national bishop’s conferences were not teaching authorities was very helpful.

The Holy Father—when still Cardinal Ratzinger—(1985) has spoken clearly regarding bishop’s conferences in relation to a teaching mission:

"We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function…No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given by the individual bishops…

"It is a matter of safeguarding the very nature of the Catholic Church, which is based on an episcopal structure and not on a kind of federation of national churches. The national level is not an ecclesial dimension." (Ratzinger, J. C. (1985). The Ratzinger report. An exclusive interview on the state of the Church. San Francisco, Ignatius Press. pp. 59-60)