Catholics have a “critical duty” to participate in politics “vociferously”. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

The other day I had a little rant in which I urged you to be involved in local politics because, “all politics is local”.  If you do nothing all the time, you won’t make any difference all the time.

I received a note from the Diocese of Portsmouth in England about an upcoming pastoral letter to be issued by their excellent bishop, Most Rev. Philip Egan.

Catholics have a critical duty to participate in politics, bishop tells faithful

For immediate release

The Bishop of Portsmouth will tell Catholics across his diocese that they have a “critical duty” to participate in politics, in a pastoral letter this weekend.

In a letter which will be read out in all churches and chapels, Bishop Philip Egan will say: “Catholics (we) have a critical duty to participate vociferously in the democratic process, contributing our distinctive, saving message.”

Bishop Egan will tell the faithful that the Church’s “best kept secret” is “the extensive body of Catholic doctrine on politics, economics, human development and social justice.”

He will say: “The principles of Church social teaching are very relevant as daily we witness the tragedy of human trafficking, the plight of migrants, financial scandals, debates about regulating the market-place and the impact of civil war and terrorism. Our faith is not ‘me and Jesus’ but ‘we and Jesus.”

Bishop Egan will tell the faithful that there are three principles Catholic should bear in mind, which include, Christian stewardship, solidarity and the common good.

He will say: “Contemporary culture is obsessed with the autonomy of the individual: even buying a drink of coffee now requires the barista to write your name on the cup, so specialised are people’s preferences. Yet in truth, we are all one family.

“The principle of solidarity or fraternity reminds us we are God’s children and thus brothers and sisters. We are bound to promote the dignity, value and equality of every person, espousing truth, freedom and justice in relationships at work and at home, at school and at leisure.”

A video of the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter will appear on the diocesan website at the weekend.

We must participate in the life of the public square and contribute what we can offer as Catholics.  Powerful forces are rising against us to prevent us from doing that.  Catholics (sort of) within the Church are even helping those who would eject us from the public square (e.g., CHA, Fishwrap, Notre Dame, etc.)

However, in order for us to contribute positively to the discourse of the public square, we have to know clearly what we believe (fides quae creditur) and have a solid, holy relationship with the content of our Faith (fides quae creditur – a Person!) and we must be able to communicate it clearly and with charity (cf. 1 Peter 3).

If we don’t know who we are, then we can’t show who we are.  If we can’t show who we are, why should anyone bother to listen to us?

The starting point, therefore, is a renewal of our sacred liturgical worship of God.  That’s where we must start and that’s where we must wind up.  We cannot simply have a secular approach to action in the public square.  Everything we do must flow from our Catholic identity and that must start and aim at worship, as individuals and as congregations.

We need liturgical worship for our identity, like our bodies need shelter, air and nourishment.

If we have become ineffective in the public square, we need to review how we are worshiping Almighty God.

I think we need a strong, hard identity liturgical life.

Ask yourselves: Is what are you are getting giving you that?  Fathers: Is that what you are providing?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ChrisRawlings says:

    The politics in this country are sorry not because Catholics aren’t involved enough, but because there aren’t enough Catholics. I believe that political participation is indeed important, but we delude ourselves if we think that the problems in this or any other country are primarily political, as though just getting the right guy in the White House would end many of the woes we face as Catholics in America. How do you think we got the government we have? We have exactly the government that America wants.

  2. MikeToo says:

    What if I find that active participation in political discussions are a near occasion of sin for me? Perhaps I used to be too active and now I find temperament and charity a challenge.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    “…in order for us to contribute positively to the discourse of the public square, we have to know clearly what we believe…”

    I highly recommend the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”.

  4. Auggie says:

    I’d vote for candidates from the “American Life Party.”
    These folks would be pro-life (aka Catholic) on all issues.
    “The Masked Chicken for President,” would be a bumper sticker I’d love to put on my pickup.

  5. WYMiriam says:

    I think we need a strong, hard identity liturgical life.

    Ask yourselves: Is what are you are getting giving you that?

    I asked myself, and the answer was a resounding “NO.”

    On the other hand, I do belong to and am active in the Constitution Party. . .

  6. williamjm says:

    I do believe that we must raise our voices in public, but it appears to me that the American ship is almost inevitably going to crash on the rocks, blown there by secularism and the anti-life crowd. I think we have to get ready for that crash, in part by acting on the Catholic economic teachings, from which Distributism is drawn. Distributism is all about self-support. How are you going to rely on an employer in the difficult times ahead?

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    “‘The Masked Chicken for President,’ would be a bumper sticker I’d love to put on my pickup.

    Me, I would love to have the pickup, sigh.

    The Chicken

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Catholics (we) have a critical duty to participate vociferously in the democratic process, contributing our distinctive, saving message.”

    What is this democratic process of which you speak, Kemosabe?

    The Chicken

  9. kimberley jean says:

    The electoral process is rigged. The candidate is chosen not by the primary but at a command performance at the donors house. As for the Catholic vote….bah! Most of us vote like the general pagan culture does.

  10. asperges says:

    In England and Wales, the bishops tend to be a clique but there are a few, of whom Bp Egan is one, and Bp Davies (Shrewsbury) is another who speak out courageously and do not necessarily hunt blandly with the pack.

    In politics here, the Catholic voice has been generally disregarded (abortion, gay ‘marriage’ etc), albeit politely, whilst we have known Catholic MPs unhesitatingly vote in parliament against what should be their consciences or justify their action by denying or criticising the Church for the sake of popularity (and votes).

    But much of all this is about ignorance of the Faith brought about by hopeless Catholic education over 40 years, dreadful catechetics and worse liturgy. The bishop is quite right in saying the Catholic voice must be heard, but also we have to rediscover just what that is. So many no longer know.

  11. Dienekes says:

    To be uninformed and ignorant is bad. To be uninformed and ignorant and not to care at all is wicked and depraved. Lose your mind, lose your soul.

    Old Scratch is a clever bastard, I’ll give him that.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    I was involved in local politics for a long time, including being the representative at the Iowa Caucus for Alan Keyes in 2000. The problem here is that the vast majority of Catholics vote Democrat in a knee-jerk reaction, and are simply closed to discussing other alternative parties.

    Many of the priests I know vote Dem, as do some monks I know, and the majority of nuns. As a conservative (and NOT neo-con) voter, I can hardly bring up politics without getting slammed by my fellow Catholics. The Catholic vote does not reflect Church teaching at the local level, and the scarcity of bishops who speak out against the ruling parties, which have not even tried to repeal Roe v. Wade, and who support ssm, is a scandal. There are a few good bishops in Illinois, such as Bishop Paprocki, a real hero, who warned people of the state of their souls if they voted for O in the last election. He said…

    “a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

    Sadly, the majority of Catholics did exactly that–endanger their souls.

    Until more bishops and priests speak out against all the candidates of both major parties who support abortion , ssm, and socialism, there will be no Catholic bloc for removing immoral laws.

    Within two weeks, we shall see whether America completely decides for neo-paganism and rapid moral decline, because of some Catholics in the Supreme Court who most likely will vote against Church teaching.

    I just re-registered as I moved recently, and I am no longer a Republican, after the chaos in Congress these past years and the lack of commitment to Christian morality. As to local government, in one of the first states to legalize ssm, again, the Catholics are mainly Dems, and have been supported openly by Obama priests. One does what one can by explaining the reality of politics in America to Catholics who choose to stay asleep, or compromise, or reveal they have never formed a Catholic conscience.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    I really wonder if Bishop Egan has read the recent Princeton study that came to the conclusion that the U. S. is no longer a republic, but an oligarchy. It is urgent for people to realize how much power is concentrated at the top. The study may be found, here:

    That an elite school such as Princeton had the integrity to release this document says something about the desire that politics might be otherwise than their sad conclusion.

    The Chicken

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