.- In a new column, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus says that Catholics can rise above political divides by committing to and living out the Church's teaching on social issues.
“Catholics are in a unique position to change the culture of partisanship and division that has plagued our political process,” Anderson writes. “But to do so requires courage and an embracing of Catholic ideals and Social Teaching.”
The Supreme Knight's June 23 piece, titled “How Committing to Catholic Social Teaching Can Transcend Partisanship,” outlines three ways to create a social environment for such change.
Fundamentally, Catholics should engage in the public debate in a way that is civil “and with a tone that calls everyone to the 'better angels of our nature.'”
Second, “we must extend that charity in speech to actual acts of charity towards our neighbors, leading by example and extending a helping hand to all in need,” he says.
Lastly, members of the Church “must build a consistent commitment to Catholic Social Teaching among Catholic voters in America.”
In his column, Anderson also laments that what was once a “peaceful co-existence” between secular culture and the Church in America has now ended as a result of the federal contraception mandate.
The rule, announced Jan. 20 by the Department of Health and Human Services Department, requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortive drugs even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
“Catholic public officials, who for years maintained that they would not impose their religious morality on others, now appear entirely comfortable with imposing secular values on their fellow Catholics and Catholic institutions,” he said.
Anderson added that the HHS mandate “has profoundly raised the stakes for our political choices,” by targeting not only public policy issues, but the sustainability of the mission of Catholic institutions.
In response to this, he writes that Catholic voters “should insist that candidates measure their political platforms by Catholic social teaching – especially if they are Catholics and should settle for nothing less.”
Catholic voters should even have the courage to withhold their vote from candidates who fail this test, “even if it means at times that they will withhold their vote for both candidates for a particular office.”
Ultimately, Catholic voters “must have the courage to act boldly and insist that every candidate for public office respect the autonomy, integrity and mission of the Catholic Church and its institutions,” Anderson says, which include “the fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching such as the sanctity of human life before birth as well as the institutions of marriage and family.”