Every election year, critics try to silence Catholics by insisting on the necessity to separate Church and state, but this argument is “empty and often dishonest,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput in his last weekly column in the Denver Catholic Register.
The Church, as part of her mission, has always spoken on the moral issues that shape public and political debates, said Archbishop Chaput. In addition, “religious witness has always played an active role in American political life,” he underlined.
The archbishop said while it is not the Church’s place to endorse specific candidates or political parties, the Church has “the duty and the constitutional right to speak forcefully about social, economic and political issues in the light of Jesus Christ, and to guide Catholics by her teaching.”
The archbishop pointed out that “the most ardent supporters of separating Church and state are very happy to accept the Church's help – and often her leadership – in serving the poor, the sick, the hungry, the mentally and physically handicapped, the homeless, the migrant worker and inner-city children.
“So what ‘separation of Church and state’ really means in an election year is, ‘Thanks for all the help, Catholics (and other religious believers), now be quiet’,” the archbishop wrote.
“We can't afford to be fooled, this year or any year, about what it means and what it costs to be a follower of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “What we really believe about God always shapes how we interact with the world. If it doesn't, then our faith is empty words.”
The bishop said those who claim to be Catholic, must conform their hearts and actions to the faith in all aspects of their lives, including at the voting booth.
“With or without the approval of the powerful, the Church serves the poor – from the unborn child to the undocumented immigrant – every day of every year,” assured the bishop. “We should take pride in that. We should thank God for that. And as her sons and daughters, we need to support her with our prayers, our financial support and our courage in the public square.”