Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Catholic First

For most of my life I have been interested in politics, and have during those many years changed political affiliations a couple times.

My first political registration was as a Democrat, during the Watergate period, and I proudly voted for Jimmy Carter for president and Jerry Brown for Governor.

As I grew older, married and had a child, accumulating more responsibilities and possessions along the way, I registered as a Republican and just as proudly voted for Ronald Reagan for president, twice.

During the process of becoming Catholic (I was brought into the Church in 2004) I realized that my political allegiance was to the principle of Catholic social teaching that played such a large part in my becoming Catholic, and I changed my political registration to independent, though still vote largely with the Republicans as they are the party that supports one of the most important principles of the Church, that of pro-life.

What clearly drives my political thinking these days is the fact that I am a Catholic first, and this related article from The Catholic Thing is a reflection about being Catholic and being American.

An excerpt.

“Here’s a quick question: Are you Catholic first and American second, or the reverse?

“Yes, sometimes this might be a false choice, but just off the top of your head, which is it?

“Just to speak for myself, I’m Catholic first and American second. I don’t understand how any believer of any faith could think differently. If you are lucky, you spend eighty or so years in America. Dead is a long time. An American passport or American attitudes may not be ideal for travel into the undiscovered country. Except for those simple souls who think that Americanism is Christianity, a reflective person knows there will be days – in certain periods a lot of them – when a real believer must take a different path than other Americans.

“The Catholic Church occupies an odd position in the United States. We are a Church that has survived the rise and fall not only of nations, but of whole civilizations. Along the way, we developed a complex sense of the Church’s social responsibilities. Catholicism is compatible with American-style democracy – and with many other forms of government – yet does not concede that the public arena is properly understood as purely neutral or secularist.

“God is Lord of all, including a pluralistic order like our own. The Catholic Church, as other churches once did, teaches that the basic elements of his rule, including universal moral principles, must be acknowledged, even if only indirectly, for any regime to be legitimate. And therein lies the heart of the problem of the Church in America today.”