Voter Suppression, Catholic Apathy: In the Last Days or Almost 130 Years Ago? You Decide
If you carefully read social media, listen to the talking heads on the news, or scan any of the newspapers that are still being published, you could not help but hear, see or read the words “voter suppression” over and over again. In fact, if the idea is said loud enough and long enough people will believe it to be true. Some people even have the idea that this was some 21st-century invention by one of the major political parties in the USA to retain power.
Over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box — imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.
However, is asking for identification voter suppression? Is asking for honest and clean elections voter suppression? Since would an accurate count of what the people wanted to be a means of suppression? The simple conclusion is that the only possibility of it being a voter suppression package is that it was going to suppress the illegal or fraudulent votes that should not be counted. Then these bills are voter suppression all right. But who would support the idea that you should vote early and often on each election day?
Therefore, I thought I would like to see what the Church said about voter suppression, voter apathy, and the Catholic vote. I found that Pope Leo XIII wrote a great deal about these topics in his August 5, 1898 encyclical entitled, SPESSE VOLTE. He wrote this about the Italian Catholics of his day, but the scary part about this is - if you replace the word Italian with (American) the same advice would apply to the people of the United States today.
The Attitude of Italian (American) Catholics
19. In virtue of the well-known and immutable principles of their religion, Italian (American) Catholics will have nothing to do with any conspiracy or revolt against the public authorities, to whom they render the obedience which is due to them. Their conduct in the past, to which all men of unbiased mind can bear honorable witness, is a guarantee of their future behavior and should be sufficient to secure for them the justice and liberty to which all peaceable citizens have a right. We go farther: by the doctrine, they profess they are the staunchest supporters of order, and so they are entitled to respectful treatment. If their worth and merits were properly appreciated they would, moreover, have a right to the regard and gratitude of those at the head of affairs.
20. But, at the same time, the Catholics of Italy, for the very reason that they are Catholics, cannot renounce the desire to restore to their Supreme Head the necessary independence and full and effective freedom which are indispensable conditions of liberty and independence of the Catholic Church. On this point, their sentiments are not to be changed either by threats or violence. They will put up with the present situation of affairs, but so long as it shall, at the instigation of anti-religious sectaries, aim at the downfall of the Papacy, they will never be able, without violating their most sacred duties, to uphold it by their adhesion and support. To expect the active cooperation of Catholics for the maintenance of the present order of things would be unreasonable and absurd, for they would then no longer be able to obey the teaching and precepts of the apostolic See. On the contrary, they would have to act in opposition to that teaching and to depart from the line of conduct observed by the Catholics of all other nations.
Why They Refrain From Politics
21. This is the reason why, in the present state of affairs, Catholic action, keeping outside politics, concentrates upon social and religious work, and looks to raise the people by rendering them obedient to the Church and herHead, by shielding them from the perils of socialism and anarchy, by inculcating respect for the principle of authority, and by lightening their load of poverty by the manifold works of Christian charity. How then can Catholics be called enemies of their country and be confounded with the parties which threaten law and order and the safety of the State? Such calumnies fall to the ground before plain common sense. They rest solely upon the idea that the destiny, unity, and prosperity of the nation consist in the deeds that have been perpetrated to the detriment of the Holy See, and which are deplored by men above suspicion who have plainly pointed out the error of provoking a conflict with that great Institution divinely established in Italy, which was, and will ever be, her special and incomparable glory: that wondrous Institution which dominates the course of history and by which Italy has become the successful teacher of nations, and the head and heart of Christian civilization.
In essence, this could have easily been written about the Church in America today. Why does the Church not take a great stand on moral issues facing our country today? It can take a stand on Global Climate Change yet only pays lip service to Pro-Life Rights. If you can not stand up for humans, who will you stand up for? Was not America founded on the principles of Religious Freedom and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? If we as a Church do not stand up and profess our beliefs through the ballot box, what kind of country will we get? What kind of country will our children and grandchildren inherit? These were the same problems facing Italy when the Pope wrote this. Within 24 years things had gotten so bad that Italy was overtaken by Fascism. Do we want the same in our country? Brothers and sisters now is the time to stand up and make your voice count in our society and in our Church. Amen. Comment below