Advice for Catholic Legislators. Nothing could be more timely and nothing could come from a higher source than the Pope. However, nothing could be further from the truth of this age. Because, in truth, this was written over 120 years ago by the last Pope of the 19th century. A different place and time or was it? Please read what he had to say on this subject and decide if it is as fresh as was when he wrote in PATERNAE- his encyclical written on the education of clergy- 18 Sept. 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
Pope Leo XIII stated:
6. Joined to the advantage of the religious press is another advantage, that which results from the access of Catholics to public office and from their admission to the legislative assemblies. For the word is no less powerful than the pen; influence and authority can serve the good cause as well as the written word. It would even be appropriate to send men in holy orders to these legislative assemblies. The rights of the Church would best be defended by these guardians of religion.
7. But they should beware lest the effort made toward this end be so great that they seem to be motivated more by miserable ambition and blind partisanship than by love of the Catholic cause. What is more undignified than that clerics engage in struggle, and by their administration of the State introduce sedition and discord, the most pernicious things for the State? And what if, following bad counsel, they continually oppose the established authority?
8. The only result of such behavior is a great scandal for the people and a source of ill-feeling toward the clergy. Civil power should be exercised with moderation; every suspicion of ambition should be avoided; public offices should be won prudently, and no deviation should be made from true obedience to the supreme authority.
In paragraph six, Pope Leo XIII explained that the Church would be defended by having Catholics in political positions. This was predicated on the belief that these Catholics were true believers in the practices of the Church and followed its teachings. As of August 2021, there are 25 Catholics in the United States Senate, and 131 (out of 435) Catholics in the United States House of Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. This is close to 30% of the House and 25% of the Senate. With this much power and influence, if all the members were true believers and practiced their faith, would not this country be in a much different shape? Would Congress be in much different shape? Six of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices are Catholic. This would be a solid majority, in any case, dealing with concerns of life, religious liberty, or other issues important to the Church. If Pope Leo XIII was right then the majority of Catholic Legislators would help out the Church. Is this what you have witnessed?
In paragraph 7, Pope Leo XIII hints at the discord these political people cause when they go against the teachings of the Church and is sometimes the very public words that they have expressed before on the same matter. This can be seen by the recent comments of President Biden. President Biden, the second Catholic President of the United States that was sworn into office 60 years to the date of the first Catholic President of the United States John F. Kennedy. Publicly these men could not be more different than each other. President Joe Biden said on Friday, Sept. 3, that he does not believe life begins at conception - contradicting his previous statements on when life begins. Biden answered a reporter’s question on abortion on Friday, after addressing the August jobs numbers at the White House. “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception,” Biden said. “I don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.” In essence, he is not going to impose his beliefs on anyone except that is exactly what he is doing with this statement. This is in direct conflict with his statements to Meet The Press back in Sept. 2008. Back then, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, told a very different story when he departed Sunday from his party’s doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. But the Delaware senator added that he would not impose his personal views on others, and had indeed voted against curtailing abortion rights and against criminalizing abortion. It is this flip-flopping and poor use of logic that Pope Leo XIII was talking about in this paragraph. The people and media believe that President Biden is a good Catholic, he attends Church regularly, he partakes in the Sacraments. If it is okay for him to not believe, why can we? This is exactly what Pope Leo XIII was worried about. He was worried about this sixty-two years before the first US Catholic President, and 122 years before the second US Catholic President. If he was worried about this, should we be worried too?
Then look at the final part of the last paragraph. Public offices should be won prudently, and no deviation should be made from true obedience to the supreme authority. Could Pope Leo XIII have known about our time and was talking about almost 120 years before it happened? It really appears when you begin to take a closer look at Pope Leo XIII his writings are more applicable to our days than his. This man of God was a dynamic leader and his wisdom today is an excellent way to look at what is ahead for us in the future. Praise be to God Always. Amen Comment below.