Dear Editor: Being a young person of faith is no easy feat in modern political society. Many facets of government are devoid of morality and rife with corruption. Transitioning from teen years to young adulthood, I’ve seen myself and many friends become increasingly politically minded, many of us voting for president in 2016 for the first time.
Balancing Catholic Social Teaching and current politics is a daily conundrum for everyone, but this balancing act is even more pertinent for young Catholics, who, if they practice similarly to me, emphasize Catholic Social Teaching and Jesus’ life example over the Tradition, which has been established, largely by Catholic men exclusively, over the past two millennia.
When Catholics are inconsistent in their understanding of human dignity, we all suffer from our distance from the message of Christ. When we vote pro-life, but complain about the taxes necessary to ensure that low-income, minority children have equal access to education, we distance ourselves from Christ. When we refuse to discuss family separation at the border because “it was happening under the previous administration” or because “we couldn’t vote for Clinton” or because “it’s the law,” we are distancing ourselves from Christ.
It was legal to perform deliberate genocide in Germany. It was legal to imprison Rosa Parks. It was legal to own another human being in this country. Our morals are not subject to the current understanding of “legal.”
Human dignity is not political for us. We are Catholic. Our faith requires us to welcome the stranger. It requires us to uphold and fight for the dignity of the human person, regardless of the identity of that person. Christianity was founded by an outsider for other outsiders. Jesus was ostracized for loving everyone so fully and fiercely, that He was sentenced to death. As Christians today, we see ourselves represented. We hold power in communities and in government. It is our utmost responsibility to defend those at the border, to fight and pay for equal opportunity for all people, to give our souls completely to a more just and peaceful world.
We are not doing enough. Historically, Catholics have been complicit in injustice. Young people scorn the inconsistency of Catholics on life issues because it seems that many Catholics limit the expression “love thy neighbor” depending on who that neighbor is.
Jesus’ message did not carry such limitations and we fail him and ourselves when we limit our love. We are called to do more. We must challenge each other to act fearlessly, vote pensively, and defend the vulnerable unceasingly.
MARY GRACE DONOHOE