Church and state Contributors

Catholic voice makes essential contribution to public square

Chuck Weber is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference. He can be reached at

by Chuck Weber

As Elon Musk and the “Twitter wars” about who can or cannot have a voice in the digital universe continue to rage, another more ominous battle in the public square is unfolding. This struggle is constructed to disenfranchise, intimidate and eventually eliminate the voice of the Catholic Church in policy debates.

Anti-Catholic bigotry and intolerance are nothing new, but they are growing. The latest twist is not just that the Catholic Church is wrong on issues debated in the public square, but rather that the church should not even have a voice.

The secular press in Kansas City, Topeka and northeast Kansas is hardly unique in this dangerous, Orwellian thinking. Many (though not all) news outlets create a distorted view of reality in various ways. They publish contemptible editorials or opinion pieces from their radical accomplices. They deem as “not newsworthy” inconvenient facts or voices that don’t fit their pre- determined narratives. Leftist-funded organizations masquerade as fair and balanced news sources. 

What, one might ask, is the proper role of the Catholic Church (indeed, all churches and religions) in debates shaping public policy? The late, great Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: The church “is not the master, nor the servant, of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

As individuals and as a community, Catholics have something important to offer. As the single-largest privately funded social service provider the world has ever known, we’ve earned a place at the table. We will, to the extent possible, continue to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and much more.

We take seriously our role in being our “brother’s (or sister’s) keeper,” and we will continue to promote laws that foster justice and human flourishing.

Just as the Rev. King — a Baptist minister — was compelled by the truth of holy Scripture to fight for civil rights, Catholics will continue to advance authentic principles in service of the common good.

Regrettably, the discredited view that Catholic participation in politics somehow violates the “separation of church and state” continues to gain ground from the media elites, even more when the failings of the church’s members are all too visible.

Catholic participation in politics can never be forced. Like Christ, his earthly church never imposes, but always proposes. It is our mission and challenge to convince others through persuasive arguments. Christ himself is our witness and guide. We rely upon the gifts of Scripture, natural law and, yes, the founding principles of the American republic on this journey.

The Catholic voice of conscience in the public square will continue, even when unpopular. This may require suffering, but we will not be silent. Be not afraid.

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Chuck Weber

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