Peace and justice require personal, government action, Archbishop Chaput

Churches are called to build a just society and to work for peace, but it can’t be done without the collaboration of government, said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver in a column that was published in the archdiocesan newspaper, the Denver Catholic Register.

The archbishop’s column was adapted from similar comments he made at the Rally for Compassion, April 24, on the steps of the State Capitol. Participants at the rally, organized by Catholic Charities Denver, demanded that the state government revises legislation and includes more programs and policies in favor of the poor and the marginalized.

“Churches can’t build a just society alone,” said Archbishop Chaput. “Neither can synagogues or volunteers or charities.

“We need government to do its rightful job, not cut or hobble its services. We need government to serve the common good with laws that defend the weak, and with the money, personnel and other resources to ensure a life of basic dignity for all our people,” he said.

The common good, the archbishop said, includes the right to food, shelter, rest, medical care, necessary social services, decent working conditions and basic economic security for widows, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed.

“It means special protection for marriage, children and the family, with real equality for men and women,” he continued. “And it also means the right to life of the sick, the dying, the unwanted and the unborn child – because the right to life is the cornerstone of every other human right. Without the right to life, every other right begins to crumble.

“We can’t build justice in foreign countries if we ignore it here at home,” he stated. “We can’t protect our own rights unless we defend the rights of the weakest in our society.”

The archbishop emphasized that public policies are needed “that defend human dignity from conception, through childhood and adulthood, to natural death.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded by reminding Catholics that they need to live their citizenship seriously in this election year.

“Our faith serves the common good not just through Catholic Charities and all our other social ministries, but also in guiding the way we vote for our public officials and the demands for justice that we place on them,” he said.

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