Lord, teach us to pray:
(To be read by the Leader)
Brothers, by the time you read this, you may well have cast your vote for our next Provincial government. However, as we are aware in the next year or so we will be electing our next Federal government. I thought it would be a good use of our efforts to focus on what it is, we should be considering when we go forth to cast our ballots. My source referenced for this discussion is titled, “Catholics in the Public Square” originally published in 2006 by Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona. What is intriguing to me is that though the United States has quite a different system and political climate, the teaching of the Catholic Church does not vary one iota from continent to continent within the world. I will present this topic in a question and answer format as most of us do have questions regarding where we fit in within the political arena, at all levels of our society.
(To be read by the Leader)
What is the role of the laity within the Church? “Seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God, (LG 31)” Because we as Catholic men are in the world, it allows us a particular ability to bring faith into all areas of our society.
What are the responsibilities of the Catholic Laity in the public square? As lay people in society we have a responsibility to be aware of how the impact of our particular vocation may impact society. For example, a lawyer, an elected official or someone involved with the many forms of mass media, may well have the ability to impact legislation that shapes the society that we are part of. In all areas of public life, we all have a mandate and moral responsibility to live our faith by promoting the common good in society. Each of us in virtue of our baptism has a call to evangelize and to share the Good News of Christ with the rest of the world. “There are a multitude of different ways in which Catholics may serve the Church through their contributions in public life. In each circumstance, however, Catholics are especially called to contribute to the common good, to defend the dignity of every human person, and to live as faithful citizens, (p. 9).”
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI addresses this in the following way. “There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord’s hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility, we will do what we can, and in all humility, we will entrust the rest to the Lord, (Dues Caritas Est, 35).
How should Catholics understand the separation between Church and state? Separation of Church and state has very often been an excuse to prevent people of faith from legitimately voicing their concerns and perspectives in the public square. There is nothing in our Canadian constitution excluding people of faith from bringing their belief system into the public square. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 510 states the following; “The Church intervenes by making a moral judgement about economic and social matters when the fundamental rights of the person, the common good, or the salvation of souls requires it.” In 2008, when Pope Benedict visited the United States, he made this statement to the American Bishops. “Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.” While we are called to bring our faith and religious views into the public square, we are also obligated to respect the religious freedom and civil liberties of all people.
(The Leader now invites the members to spend a few moments in silent reflection, as the above text is not meant to be a ready-made answer but a starter for personal reflection on the theme.)
(The leader now invites the members to share with their Brother Knights any relevant thoughts that came to them during the meditation period.)
(Recited by all)
Let us pray: “Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”