We Are Not American Catholics. We Are Catholic Americans. | Father Augustine Hoa T. Tran | Catholic World Report
Our patriotism is tempered by our faith, and our political decisions are determined by consciences informed by faith.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.”
My dear brethren in Christ, the children sitting in these pews, playing in our parks, and sleeping in their mothers’ wombs, in all their innocence, their purity of heart, and their childlike faith, are the “posterity” to which this Preamble to the Constitution is referring. And we are called not just by this Constitution, but also by our Church, to “secure the blessings of liberty” to this posterity, a liberty that has slowly been eroding and is in danger of disappearing. This was why our bishops called for a Fortnight of Freedom this summer. From June 21 to July 4, you were asked in your parishes to increase prayer and fasting for religious liberty.
Now, there are many people in this country who believe that the pulpit is no place to talk about politics, but, thanks be to God, we are Catholics, and that is not a Catholic mentality. Our Catechism teaches us, “submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country” (CCC 2240).
I can guarantee you that no politician would ever cry foul because a priest preached from the pulpit that one is morally obliged to pay taxes—especially since the Supreme Court told us this summer that we have a whole new tax now. In the same vein, no politician should cry foul when a priest preaches from the pulpit about voting and defending one’s country.
Our first lady affirmed this very point on June 28. Speaking to members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Michelle Obama said, “And to anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better—no place better. Because ultimately, these are not just political issues—they are moral issues. They’re issues that have to do with human dignity and human potential, and the future we want for our kids and our grandkids.” That is precisely the teaching of the Catholic Church; these are not just political issues, they are not even primarily political issues, they are first and foremost moral issues, hence the pulpit is exactly the right place to bring them up.
Now, consider for a moment what this teaching means.