Church and state

Column: Be part of the solution this legislative season

Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

by Michael Schuttloffel

Much as Catholicism is not an hour-a-week occupation, neither is American citizenship a once-every-four-years activity.

Most people lack the time (and the masochistic streak) to live and breathe politics 24 hours a day; nonetheless, all who would live in a free and just society must make time to discharge the duties of citizenship.

Yes, citizenship means duties, not just rights. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “service of the common good require[s] citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community” (2239).

The catechism also reminds us that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions” (1883). This is the crucial, but largely ignored, principle of subsidiary. The corollary to this principle is not found in the catechism but goes something like this: If you complain about overreach by the federal government, but yourself ignore politics at the state and local level, you’re part of the problem.

So become part of the solution. In just over three weeks, the Kansas Legislature will begin its 2015 session. It will consider several issues important to Catholics. Do not stay on the sidelines.

Life: There are around one million abortions a year in this country and over 7,000 in Kansas. If we believe what we say we believe, this is evil of massive proportions occurring in our very midst. This is the preeminent human rights issue of our time.

Religious freedom: The courts have struck down Kansas’ marriage amendment, deriding as irrational the idea that marriage is in its very essence the coming together of the male and the female, and that every child deserves a mom and a dad. Government agencies have begun to punish Christians who decline to service same-sex weddings. Google the name Barronelle Stutzman to get a taste of what’s coming.

Usury: There was once wide consensus on what the church has always taught: that the charging of exorbitant interest rates is wrong. After the financial disasters of the last decade, now may be an opportune time to examine the effects on society of lending practices that ensnare — often by design — the financially vulnerable.

Capital punishment: This is not a question of what those convicted of the most heinous crimes deserve, for they deserve what no civilized society would ever allow. We do not take an eye for an eye. “Vengeance is mine,  I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:19). Trusting in those words, if we mortals can keep society safe without the spilling of blood, we should.

Feeling alienated from the political process?  Sign up for Kansas Catholic Conference action alerts so we can help you make a difference in these and other important fights.

About the author

Michael Schuttloffel

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