Ahead of the November elections, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has encouraged U.S. Catholics to unite their faith with their actions in public life and in the voting booth to respond to a “hard secular turn” in society.
“How are we going to live and work and carry out our Christian mission in an America where religious faith and conscience are no longer respected?” he asked in his Oct. 5 column for The Tidings.
He said Catholics in America face a “new moment” in which the U.S. government has become “actively opposed to Catholic teachings and practices.” Catholics need to do “critical thinking and soul-searching” about their place in “a radically secular, ‘post-Christian’ America.”
Religious liberty, he noted, is a “crucial issue” but it is even more important what Catholics do with their religious liberty. One recommendation he made is that Catholics should renew their faith and their commitment to living their faith in society.
“Now, more than ever, we need to know our faith and we need to have the courage to bear witness to our beliefs and the teachings of the Church,” he said.
In his three most recent columns, Archbishop Gomez has addressed the issues of Catholic action in public life and in the voting booth.
On Sept. 21, he warned of two opposite temptations for Catholics: the temptation to separate faith from politics and act as if there is no relation between what the Church teaches and how Catholics vote; and the temptation to use religion to justify “our political projects and prejudices.”
“Jesus calls us to a unity of life — to a faith that embraces all of life,” the archbishop said.
Catholics can never allow their beliefs to be “watered down” and can never forget Church teaching and God’s demands when they are engaged in public life, he continued.
Catholics cannot compromise on “non-negotiable” aspects of Catholic teaching like opposition to abortion or euthanasia or support for the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The archbishop’s Sept. 28 column also called for bringing faith to political decisions.
“God does not look at us as members of a political party or as conservatives or liberals. What God asks is that we be faithful to Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love,” he wrote.
In an increasingly secularized culture, he warned, Americans are trying to govern themselves and to run the economy “as if God makes no difference.” However, this indifference to God destroys social consensus and a “sense of common purpose.”
“We don’t seem to agree any more on what government is for or what the purpose of our economy should be,” he lamented, asking Catholics to work with others of good will to find a solution to common challenges.
He said Catholics are called to work for a government and economy that promotes “the dignity and rights of the human person” and that sees the earth’s resources and opportunities as “gifts of God to be shared by everyone.”
Archbishop Gomez on Oct. 5 urged Catholics to read the U.S. Catholic bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” which offers principles to help voters form their consciences.
He said Catholics’ priority must be “always to promote the sanctity of human life and the right to life -- especially for the unborn, the aged and the sick.”
The archbishop prayed that the Virgin Mary “help us to have the courage to grow in our commitment to being faithful citizens of this great country.”