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Need moral leadership in an election season Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

 
 Bishop Robert C. Morlino addresses the recent meeting of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in Milwaukee. (Catholic Herald photo/Mary C. Uhler)

MILWAUKEE -- Catholics must exercise moral leadership in an election season, Bishop Robert C. Morlino told over 400 persons attending the recent annual meeting of the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem held in Milwaukee.

Bishop Morlino was one of three keynote speakers at the annual gathering of the order. His topic was “Knights and Ladies as a Moral Force in Society.”

Other speakers included Thomas Garofalo, Catholic Relief Services representative in Palestine, who discussed the current situation in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, and John Schmitt, Marquette University Department of Theology, who talked about “Islam and the Catholic Church: Points of Contact and Mutual Esteem.” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee also presided and preached at a Mass at the Basilica of St. Josaphat.

Don’t base vote on economy

This year, the Madison bishop said he fears that many citizens will make their voting decisions based primarily on the state of the economy. “We can’t go into the voting booth so as to maximize our own standard of living,” he said, warning that we may have to make “many sacrifices” economically in the future.

Instead, Bishop Morlino said, “Moral leadership and spiritual leadership absolutely dovetail. We can’t vote to uphold the best standard of living. That’s not being a disciple of Christ.”

Bishop Morlino noted that some Catholic leaders feel their Catholic convictions can’t be forced on other people. If we made everyone believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or mandate that they go to Mass on Sunday, he said, “that would be forcing a Catholic conviction.”

But when we try to “protect our humanness and the dictates of the natural law,” that is not forcing our Catholic convictions on anyone, said Bishop Morlino.

Dictates of the natural law

He mentioned three dictates of the natural law that should be protected when we vote:

That God exists. The First Vatican Council taught that the existence of God can be known by reason alone, noted Bishop Morlino. He added, “If we know for sure from reason alone that God exists, then we cannot allow any acknowledgement of God to be excluded from the public forum. We must take reason and natural law into account when we vote.”

The absolute dignity of the human person. “The human person is the only creature that cannot become a means to an end, but is an end in him or herself,” said the bishop. “The human being is sacred from conception to natural death.” He noted that from conception, there is a “unique individual of the human species. That’s biology and science.”

Bishop Morlino discussed the issue of voting for a “pro-choice” candidate for a proportionate reason. He said if all candidates are pro-choice, then the principle of “lesser of evils” can be applied. Voters decide which candidate is more in accord with natural law than the others.

But if one candidate is pro-choice and the other is pro-life, what would constitute a proportionate reason? Bishop Morlino quoted Archbishop Chaput’s approach to this question. “It would have to be a reason that a Catholic would be ready to explain in the afterlife to the victims of abortion.”

The definition of marriage. “One husband, one wife, with openness to children for a lifetime” — this is all based on the principles of human intimacy, said Bishop Morlino. “Faith affirms it, but it is not the basis of it,” he said. “We have a lot to lose as Catholics if marriage gets redefined. What about rearing of children?”

Bishop Morlino said Catholics have to “be all the more encouraged and emboldened to protect these values and live them out in the voting booth and proclaim them as we go forward in this society.”

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre traces its origins back to the 11th century when Knights protected the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The order fosters in its members the practice of the Christian life and champions the defense of the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

here are 1,106 members of the order in the North Central Lieutenancy, which includes the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

 
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