Prince of Peace Catholic Church
16000 W 143rd St, Olathe, KS 66062
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A final note on the Value Them Both Amendment - August 1, 2022

Greetings Prince of Peace parishioners,
 
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the Value Them Both Amendment to the Kansas Constitution. I beg you to read one more thing here. I encourage you to vote if you haven’t already on August 2nd. A vote of “Yes” is a vote to help protect pre-born children by protecting the legal ability to provide reasonable restrictions on abortion. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the Catholic Church has long been adamant about protecting the unborn. Catechism of the Catholic Church #2270 states: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
 
But I’ve heard concerns about the Church advocating this position in the political realm, about the separation of church and state, and the contribution of funds to the Value Them Both campaign by the Church. I’d like to address them here. I encourage you also to read Archbishop Naumann’s July 29th The Leaven column where he also directly addresses these things (see your recent paper or go to theleaven.org).
 
The phrase “separation of church and state” is a near quote from a letter of Thomas Jefferson, and is the common interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The Courts have long gone back and forth on how far that applies in practice. But a good gage of where we are today is our IRS tax laws. Any 501(c)(3) non-profit including churches. These IRS laws forbid a church to intervene on behalf of candidates for office. But they do allow advocating on issues such as ballot measures including the VTB Amendment. So what is being done is lawful.
 
Some have been concerned about the usage of church money toward the campaign for the VTB Amendment. I know Prince of Peace church has not contributed. But individual donors have. Even the funding provided by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in KS was entirely gathered from individual donors in our Archdiocese as a Respect Life Appeal. Donors knew what they were contributing to—to educate about the VTB and provide for other pro-life efforts and support for crisis pregnancies. What concerns me is that the campaign against the VTB is mostly out of state money, including from in and out-of-state Planned Parenthoods—also 501(c)(3)’s under the same IRS tax laws as churches. You can see that for yourself if you delve through 180-page filing reports that are linked to in a KSHB news report (https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/investigations/who-donated-what-see...).
 
In any case—and I tire of looking through laws and reports—I want to quote from Pope Benedict’s first encyclical written in 2005 titled “Deus Caritas Est” (“God is Love”, Paragraph 27. To me this sums up why we have to do what we are doing and the Church’s view on “separation of church and state”. Begin quote:
 
The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”. 
Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere. The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.
 
Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God’s standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. (emphasis mine) This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.
 
The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.
End quote.
 
Ok. If that didn’t make any sense, let’s substitute. I have been guilty of being involved in politics…in advocating for Payday Loan Reform. I believe is is wrong to charge nearly 400% interest on the poor who take out payday loans in moments of crisis, and that there should be legislation regulating/limiting this. It so happens there is a biblical principle against such predatory lending and we call is “usury”. My faith helps bring clarity to my reason, and I believe all people of good will should see by reason alone how wrong this is. I held a town-hall here at Prince of Peace and encouraged you all to come and be educated and advocate for reform. No one complained I was violating the separation of church and state! But it is also true that almost no one came to my town hall either (alas). But for me to sit and be silent and not try to educate you on the issue was simply wrong. It’s just the same thing here with VTB.
 
I appreciate if you actually read all this. I do believe we all most be educated more to make democracy work. And in faith, I believe that no matter what happens with the vote on August 2nd, God will still reign over heaven and earth, and our work to love our neighbor and build a society of justice will continue. May God bring us clarity and justice and new resolve to love.
 
Peace,
Fr. Greg

 

 

Calendar of Events

Saturday, August 13, 2022 (All day)
Sunday, August 14, 2022 (All day)
Sunday, August 14, 2022 - 12:15pm

Sunday Readings & Homily

April 11, 2020 - Easter Vigil: "In the beginning and at the end, the message is the same ... Do Not Be Afraid"
April 9, 2020 - Holy Thursday: "Full Service From our God'