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NOTA BENE: At the bottom of this longish post, I make a pitch which I hope you will read.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s (GOP VP candidate – R-WI1) congressional district overlaps with the Diocese of Madison, where His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino is the local ordinary bishop.
On the site of the Diocese of Madison Bp. Morlino has published a comment about Rep. Ryan, who, in terms of the Church, is his subject.
Let’s have a look with some detail in order to get this whole thing clear:
Subsidiarity, solidarity, and the lay mission
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012
It was no shock at all for me to learn that our diocesan native son, Paul Ryan, had been chosen to be a candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States. I am proud of his accomplishments as a native son, and a brother in the faith, and my prayers go with him and especially with his family as they endure the unbelievable demands of a presidential campaign here in the United States. It is not for the bishop or priests to endorse particular candidates or political parties. Any efforts on the part of any bishop or priest to do so should be set aside. And you can be assured that no priest who promotes a partisan agenda is acting in union with me or with the Universal Church. [A new definition of “nano second” could be the interval between when a liberal reads this and then accuses Morlino of meddling in politics.]
It is the role of bishops and priests to teach principles of our faith, such that those who seek elected offices, if they are Catholics, are to form their consciences according to these principles about particular policy issues.
However, the formation of conscience regarding particular policy issues is different depending on how fundamental to the ecology of human nature [interesting starting point: ecology… ecological anthropology? anthropological ecology? ecological theo-anthropology?] or the Catholic faith a particular issue is. Some of the most fundamental issues for the formation of a Catholic conscience are as follows: sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and a right to private property. [Which all happen to be burning issues in public debate and in the political campaign.]
Violations of the above involve intrinsic evil — that is, an evil which cannot be justified by any circumstances whatsoever. [It seems to me that some might bring in “eminent domain” when dealing with the right to property, but the principle remains: we have a right to property. ] These evils are examples of direct pollution of the ecology of human nature and can be discerned as such by human reason alone. [Good.] Thus, all people of good will who wish to follow human reason should deplore any and all violations in the above areas, without exception. The violations would be: abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, government-coerced secularism, and socialism. [Since the starting point of the argument is human reason, we cannot be accused fairly of pushing “religious views” on the public when we defend life from a natural law stance.]
Where intrinsic evil is not involved
In these most fundamental matters, a well-formed Catholic conscience, or the well-formed conscience of a person of good will, simply follows the conclusions demanded by the ecology of human nature and the reasoning process. A Catholic conscience can never take exception to the prohibition of actions which are intrinsically evil. [You cannot be… cannot be… pro-choice and a faithful Catholic.] Nor may a conscience well-formed by reason or the Catholic faith [WATCH THIS…] ever choose to vote for someone who clearly, consistently, persistently promotes that which is intrinsically evil. [Some who are truth-deficient will claim that that was a political statement. It. Was. Not.]
However, a conscience well-formed according to reason or the Catholic faith, must also make choices where intrinsic evil is not involved. [Now we get into contingent moral judgments.] How best to care for the poor is probably the finest current example of this, though another would be how best to create jobs at a time when so many are suffering from the ravages of unemployment. [In matters such as these, people can advance differing proposals about “how best” to handle a, b, or c.] In matters such as these, where intrinsic evil is not involved, the rational principles of solidarity and subsidiarity come into play. The principle of solidarity, simply stated, means that every human being on the face of the earth is my brother and my sister, my “neighbor” in the biblical sense. [And thus is our special concern because of the fact that we are members of the human race and because, as Christians, we obey Christ’s two-fold command.] At the same time, the time-tested best way for assisting our neighbors throughout the world should follow the principle of subsidiarity. That means the problem at hand should be addressed at the lowest level possible — that is, the level closest to the people in need. That again, is simply the law of human reason.
We can disagree on application
As one looks at issues such as the two mentioned above [by which he seems to mean “care for the poor” and “creating jobs”] and seeks to apply the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, Catholics and others of good will can arrive at different conclusions. These are conclusions about the best means to promote the preferential option for the poor, or the best means to reach a lower percentage of unemployment throughout our country. No one is contesting here anyone’s right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. Nor is anyone contesting someone’s right to work and so provide for self and family. However there can be difference according to how best to follow the principles which the Church offers.
[On the other hand…] Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles — that is, “lay mission” for Catholics.
[NB:] Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, [NB… and contrary to the claims of many liberals who are attacking Ryan’s person and Ryan’s proposals…] as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.) [Get that? Ryan is being accused by some of advancing proposals that are “contrary”, as they claim, to Catholic teaching. Bp. Morlino is sticking up for Ryan, his subject and a public figure, NOT because Morlino is taking a political stand in favor of a candidate for a political party, but because Ryan has a right to a good reputation. Ryan’s proposals concern contingent moral judgments about the best ways to solve urgent problems. People might have a different proposal based on Catholic teaching, but we must be honest about whether or not the proposals advanced are within the bounds of Catholic teaching. Morlino is saying, it seems to me, that even while some might have other solutions, Ryan’s are at least within those bounds. Therefore, to accuse him of advancing things contrary to Catholic teaching harms Ryan’s reputation. So, WHY is Bp. Morlino publishing this? Because Ryan is a public figure, and because the accusations have been made in public, as the man’s bishop, Morlino senses a duty publicly to defend Ryan’s reputation as a Catholic layman. That’s my reading of this.]
Peace and reconciliation in coming months
I obviously didn’t choose the date for the announcement of Paul Ryan’s Vice Presidential Candidacy and as I express my pride in him and in what he has accomplished, I thought it best to move to discussion of the above matters sooner rather than later. No doubt it will be necessary to comment again on these principles in the days ahead for the sake of further clarification, and be assured that I will be eager to do so.
Above all, let us beg the Lord that divisions in our electorate will not be deepened so as to have a negative impact on pre-existing divisions within the Church during this electoral season. Let there be the peace and reconciliation that flow from charity on the part of all. Thank you for reading this. God Bless each one of you! Praised be Jesus Christ!
There it is. I said enough with the red comments to be able to move to another point.
If you support what Bp. Morlino wrote here (or even if you don’t) you might offer him a sign of appreciation first by a promise of prayers. The Devil hates guys like him. Offer some fasting and prayers for him.
Second, you might consider – right after sending me a donation – making a donation to a cause that is dear to his heart right now.
I visited Madison recently while the bishop’s annual get together with the diocesan seminarians was going on. Bp. Morlino told me that their foundation to support the formation of seminarians was set up for handling about a half-dozen men at a time. The diocese right now as 32 men in formation.
Consider sending a donation for the seminarians.
Once you click there, there is a box with a drop-down menu.
You will know what to do.
Although… you’ve got to love that “Ghana donkey project”. I don’t think it has anything to do with spreading the Democrat Party platform in Ghana.
When priests and bishops are getting it right, let them know. Here is a concrete way you can do that.