Letter to Bishop Schmitt
Dear Bishop Schmitt:
The Defenders of the Faith congratulates you on your stand courageous against pro-abortion political candidates as per your news release. You are one of only a dozen or so bishops who have had the courage to speak for the unborn.
As Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, stated: “Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful -- both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities -- if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational.
For Catholics to take a ‘pro-choice’ view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The ‘choice’ in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.
The civil order has its own sphere of responsibility, and its own proper autonomy, apart from the church or any other religious community. But civil authorities are never exempt from moral engagement and criticism, either from the church or its members. The founders themselves realized this.
The founders sought to prevent the establishment of an official state church. Given America's history of anti-Catholic nativism, Catholics strongly support the Constitution's approach to religious freedom. But the Constitution does not, nor was it ever intended to, prohibit people or communities of faith from playing an active role in public life. Exiling religion from civic debate separates government from morality and citizens from their consciences. That road leads to politics without character, now a national epidemic.
Words are cheap. Actions matter. If we believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, we need to prove that by our actions, including our political choices. Anything less leads to the corruption of our integrity. Patriotism, which is a virtue for people of all faiths, requires that we fight, ethically and non-violently, for what we believe. Claiming that "we don't want to impose our beliefs on society" is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible.
As James 2:17 reminds us, in a passage quoted in the final presidential debate, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ It is a valid point. People should act on what they claim to believe. Otherwise they are violating their own conscience, and lying to themselves and the rest of us.”
Fortunately, we have been hearing some very good homilies on supporting the unborn from Father Mercieca in St. Vincent de Paul Parish. I thank him for that. I know it takes courage to give these homilies. I have heard about parishioners who objected to hearing the truth as if the priest were engaged in some political agenda. I have heard of parishioners who stood up and walked out only because the priest read your recent news release. Some of Jesus’ disciples walked away from Him because they did not believe the truth, either.
Thank you for supporting those of us on the pro-life front lines and taking a stand for the unborn.
Sincerely in Christ.
James S. Fritz
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