Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, has written a new book about Catholic participation in public life, where faith and politics intersect. Titled “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life,” the book will be published by Doubleday in August 2008.
Explaining that Catholics must bring their convictions into the voting booth, he argues that Catholics’ citizenship must be grounded in religious belief as a moral duty and a gift to American life. Among the issues the archbishop urges Catholics to strengthen their voice on are abortion, the death penalty, immigration, poverty and other social justice issues. The debate on these matters is crucial, and the teachings of the Catholic Church can make a strong contribution to the common good, the archbishop says.
His book reaffirms the close link between personal Catholic faith and public action and also defends the right of religious believers to challenge secular authority in the name of human dignity. “In this sense, the Catholic church cannot stay, has never stayed, and never will stay out of politics,” he writes.
Catholic faith is “always personal, but never private,” he continues. “Citizens serve their country best when they take their moral convictions respectfully, but unapologetically, into public debate… American Catholics are better citizens when they first live as more faithful Catholics.”
The book examines the themes of Catholics and partisan politics, Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, and pro-choice politicians and Holy Communion. It discusses the separation of Church and State, but also the proper understanding of a well-formed Catholic conscience and the phenomenon of “cafeteria Catholicism.” Pluralism, tolerance, and anti-Catholicism are also featured subjects.
Archbishop Chaput, who is known for his straightforward and honest analysis, also gives a critique of today’s public forum. He writes that the nation has descended into “the land of private appetites” and that “Orwellian” language often is used to manipulate the public discussion. Public leaders whose public choices mock their personal religious convictions, but also those who, lukewarm and self-absorbed, do not escape scrutiny in “Render Unto Caesar.”
“The time for easy Christianity is over. We need to be more zealous in our faith, not more discreet, clearer in our convictions, not muddier, and more Catholic, not less,” he says.
Render Unto Caesar may be pre-ordered on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Render-Unto-Caesar-Catholic-Political/dp/0385522282/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215959015&sr=8-1