Message from Fr. Riz

My Dear Parishioners,

In two weeks' time, all eligible voters of our country will exercise their right and privilege to vote for the next President of the United States who will lead our country for the next four years. For us Catholics, it is important that we use our faith and our conscience to help us discern who and whose policies we want for our leader that closely reflects the values of our Catholic faith.

May I share then with you the following Introductory Letter to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” by the Catholic Bishops of United States:

“As Catholics, we bring the richness of our faith to the public square. We draw from both faith and reason as we seek to affirm the dignity of the human person and the common good of all. With renewed hope, we, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, are re-issuing Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, our teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics, which provides guidance for all who seek to exercise their rights and duties as citizens. Everyone living in this country is called to participate in public life and contribute to the common good.

In Rejoice and Be Glad [Gaudete et Exsultate], Pope Francis writes: Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice, and universal peace. . . .You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body, and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor. The call to holiness, he writes, requires a “firm and passionate” defense of “the innocent unborn.” “Equally sacred,” he further states, is “the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”

Our approach to contemporary issues is first and foremost rooted in our identity as followers of Christ and as brothers and sisters to all who are made in God’s image. For all Catholics, including those seeking public office, our participation in political parties or other groups to which we may belong should be influenced by our faith, not the other way around. Our 2015 statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, sought to help Catholics form their consciences, apply a consistent moral framework to issues facing the nation and world, and shape their choices in elections in the light of Catholic Social Teaching. In choosing to re-issue this statement, we recognize that the thrust of the document and the challenges it addresses remain relevant today. At the same time, some challenges have become even more pronounced. Pope Francis has continued to draw attention to important issues such as migration, xenophobia, racism, abortion, global conflict, and care for creation. In the United States and around the world, many challenges demand our attention.

The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty. Our efforts to protect the unborn remain as important as ever, for just as the Supreme Court may allow greater latitude for state laws restricting abortion, state legislators have passed statutes not only keeping abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy but opening the door to infanticide.

Additionally, abortion contaminates many other important issues by being inserted into legislation regarding immigration, care for the poor, and health care reform. At our border, many arriving families endure separation, inhumane treatment, and lack of due process, while those fleeing persecution and violence face heightened barriers to seeking refuge and asylum. Within our borders, Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and mixed-status and undocumented families face continued fear and anxiety as political solutions fail to materialize. Lawmakers’ inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform which acknowledges the family as the basic unit of society has contributed to the deterioration of conditions at the border. As we seek solutions, we must ensure that we receive refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants in light of the teachings of Christ and the Church while assuring the security of our citizens.

The wound of racism continues to fester; the bishops of the United States drew attention to this important topic in the recent pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts. Religious freedom problems continue to intensify abroad and in the United States have moved beyond the federal to state and local levels. As international conflicts proliferate, addressing poverty and building global peace remain pressing concerns, as does the need to assist persons and families in our own country who continue to struggle to make ends meet. We must work to address gun violence, xenophobia, capital punishment, and other issues that affect human life and dignity. It is also essential to affirm the nature of the human person as male and female, to protect the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, and to uphold the rights of children in that regard.

Finally, we must urgently find ways to care better for God’s creation, especially those most impacted by climate change—the poor—and protect our common home. We must resist the throw-away culture and seek integral development for all. With these and other serious challenges facing both the nation and the Church, we are called to walk with those who suffer and to work toward justice and healing. At all levels of society, we are aware of a great need for leadership that models love for righteousness (Wisdom 1:1) as well as the virtues of justice, prudence, courage, and temperance. Our commitment as people of faith to imitate Christ’s love and compassion should challenge us to serve as models of civil dialogue, especially in a context where discourse is eroding at all levels of society. Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of anger.

Catholics from every walk of life can bring their faith and our consistent moral framework to contribute to important work in our communities, nation, and the world on an ongoing basis, not just during election season. In this coming year and beyond, we urge leaders and all Catholics to respond in prayer and action to the call to faithful citizenship. In doing so, we live out the call to holiness and work with Christ as he builds his kingdom of love.”

I encourage all of you who are eligible voters to please cast your vote on Election Day. And for those who already voted in person or sent their absentee ballots, I thank you for exercising your right. And for those who are still waiting to vote on Election Day let us pray that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit to make the right choice.

Fr. Riz


Nota introductoria - Formando la conciencia para ser ciudadanos fieles: Reflexión de los obispos de los Estados Unidos sobre la doctrina católica y la vida política

“Los obispos católicos de los Estados Unidos se complacen en ofrecer una vez más a los fieles católicos Formando la conciencia para ser ciudadanos fieles, nuestro documento doctrinal sobre la responsabilidad política de los católicos. Esta declaración representa nuestra orientación para los católicos en el ejercicio de sus derechos y deberes como participantes en nuestra democracia. Instamos a nuestros pastores, fieles laicos y religiosos, y a todas las personas de buena voluntad, a utilizar esta declaración para ayudar a formar sus conciencias, enseñar a los que están a su cuidado, contribuir al diálogo público cívico y respetuoso, y plasmar opciones políticas en las próximas elecciones a la luz de la doctrina católica. La declaración pone de relieve nuestra doble herencia como fieles católicos y a la vez ciudadanos estadounidenses con derechos y deberes como participantes en el orden civil. En primer lugar, sin embargo, recordamos que nos relacionamos con el orden civil como ciudadanos del Reino celestial, cuyo reinado no está todavía plenamente realizado en la tierra pero exige nuestra lealtad incondicional. Es como ciudadanos fieles al Señor Jesús que contribuimos más eficazmente al orden civil. Este documento está compuesto principalmente por la declaración adoptada abrumadoramente por los obispos en 2007, además de ciertas revisiones limitadas a modo de actualización. En particular, esta versión se basa en la riqueza de la enseñanza papal desarrollada desde la versión 2007 de Ciudadanos fieles, como el magisterio del papa Benedicto XVI en sus últimos años de papado y el del papa Francisco hasta la fecha. A partir de estas grandes enseñanzas discernimos, por ejemplo, mensajes a la Iglesia universal que deben atenderse de una manera especial: el vínculo indisoluble que existe entre nuestro testimonio de la verdad y nuestro servicio a los necesitados (Caritas in Veritate); nuestro papel como discípulos misioneros, convocados a salir del santuario para llevar a Cristo a las periferias con alegría (Evangelii Gaudium), y el cuidado de nuestra casa común y de todos los que en ella habitan, especialmente los más pobres (Laudato Si’). El documento también se actualiza para tener en cuenta las evoluciones recientes en los Estados Unidos en la política tanto nacional como extranjera: • La destrucción continua de más de un millón de vidas humanas inocentes cada año por el aborto provocado • El suicidio asistido por médicos • La redefinición del matrimonio —la célula vital de la sociedad— por los tribunales, los órganos políticos y cada vez más por la cultura misma de los Estados Unidos • El consumo excesivo de bienes materiales y la destrucción de los recursos naturales, que dañan tanto al medio ambiente como a los pobres • Los ataques mortales contra nuestros hermanos cristianos y las minorías religiosas en todo el mundo • La redefinición más restrictiva de la libertad religiosa, que amenaza tanto a la conciencia individual como a la libertad de la Iglesia para servir 7 • Las políticas económicas que omiten dar prioridad a los pobres, en nuestro país o en el extranjero • Un sistema de inmigración defectuoso y una crisis de refugiados en todo el mundo • Las guerras, el terror y la violencia que amenazan todos los aspectos de la vida y la dignidad humanas Todas estas amenazas, y otras más, hablan de una ruptura de lo que el papa Francisco ha llamado una “ecología integral” (Laudato Si’, nos. 137-55). Sin la adecuada ordenación de las relaciones de las personas entre sí, con la creación y en última instancia con Dios mismo, el pecado se afianza. El papa Francisco nos recuerda que todas las personas, naciones y miembros de la comunidad mundial tienen el deber de poner las necesidades de los demás por delante de los deseos egoístas de poseer y explotar las cosas buenas que vienen de la mano de Dios. Este documento es para ser leído en actitud de oración y en su totalidad. Sería un grave error —y un error que se produce con lamentable frecuencia— utilizar únicamente partes seleccionadas de la doctrina de la Iglesia para promover intereses políticos partidistas o validar sesgos ideológicos. Todos nosotros estamos llamados a ser siervos de la verdad íntegra en el amor auténtico, y es nuestra ferviente esperanza y oración que este documento brinde ayuda a todos aquellos que buscan seguir este llamado. Finalmente, si bien este documento es sobre el orden civil, no podemos dejar de llamar a los fieles a la oración. Las luchas que enfrentamos como nación y como comunidad mundial no pueden abordarse exclusivamente eligiendo al “mejor candidato” para un cargo político. No; además de formar nuestras conciencias, debemos ayunar y orar, pidiendo a nuestro amoroso y misericordioso Dios que nos dé la capacidad de anunciar eficazmente el Evangelio de Jesucristo a través de nuestro testimonio cotidiano de nuestra fe y sus enseñanzas. Tomemos todos muy en serio la urgencia de nuestra vocación de vivir al servicio de los demás a través de la gracia de Cristo y pedir humildemente en oración la efusión de la gracia del Espíritu Santo sobre los Estados Unidos de América.”

Favor de reflexionar esta carta de los obispos catolicos de los Estados Unidos de America para guiar nuestra conciensia y fe.

Padre Riz