Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Render to Caesar and render to God...

Now, as we are to the elections, we might have grown weary of the political ads, particularly the negative ones. Nevertheless, we should be grateful that we can vote for our representatives—that we have a voice. This is part of our patriotic duty, even if we have a hard time distinguishing opposing candidates.

Patriotism is a virtue. It is based on Christ's teaching: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's." (Mt. 22:21) Since the beginnings of the Church, Christians have lived this teaching consistently. So much so, that they would be noticed by the emperor. It was noteworthy that some emperors would do what they could to avert the penalty of death for the Christian who broke the law by refusing to swear by Caesar. Although Christians would pray for the emperor, they would not pray to him. So, the members of the Church were loyal to God and loyal to their government. It was only when a state's law conflicted with God's Commandments that the Catholic would faithfully choose the latter.

As we consider our votes this Tuesday, God's law should figure into our decision. Why? Is it because we want to be faithful and good servants? Well, yes. But also, the reason is that we want to do that which is good for our country&mdashfor our fellow citizens.

Therefore, an understanding of where each candidate stands on the issues is essential. Then, we choose the ones who will do the most to protect human life from conception to natural death, who will do the most to protect the institution of marriage as we have had it for thousands of years, and who will do the most to protect a person's right to their property and earnings.

The protection of life extends to the human embryo which is indeed a human being. Those who would promote embryonic stem cell research accept experimentation on living human beings in the earliest stages of life and also accept the destruction of these defenseless ones. We cannot accept this. We are all brothers and sisters, given life by our Father in Heaven.

In this debate, it is well to consider human greed. Once the government approves of this research, how many millions of dollars will be funneled to universities and institutions. Then, in fact, just how much&mdashwhat percentage&mdashwould be used for the actual research? Is the motivation for the good of humanity or for reception of enormous grants? It is something worth considering. Yet, whatever the real motivations are, the mutilation and destruction of the human embryo is just plain wrong. The use of adult stem cells and also cord blood stem cells (blood from the umbilical cord) is moral because it does not hamper or destroy human life.

We should know that question number two on Tuesday’s ballot would include money for embryonic stem cell research. This means borrowing money to pay for the destruction of unborn human life&mdashmoney that would be paid back by our taxes.

It is important to know where the candidate stands on the definition of marriage. We should not change what for thousands of years was meant for a man and a woman; "God created man in the image of Himself... male and female He created them. God blessed them saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply...'" (Gen. 1:27f)

Finally, though by no means the last of the issues to consider, we should know what the candidates' positions are regarding taxation. Is this person likely to tax more and more through property, sales and/or hidden taxes, leaving less and less in the hands of those on fixed incomes and in the hands of poorer people? Our elected officials should truly serve citizens and trim down spending instead of going to the wallets of the very people who elected them.

Let's bring our Lord into this, not just for the purpose of choosing officials who are the most moral in their philosophy, but for purpose of His guidance this Tuesday.

Fr. Stanley