Category Archives: Faith & the Public Order

Subsidiarity lacks with the President

Msgr Lorenzo Albacete points to a lack of understanding of the principle of subsidiarity that’s going to challenge President Obama’s healthcare reform work. AND what is the principle of subsidiarity? It’s principle that nothing should be done at macro level that ought to be done at the micro level. So, the state should not impose its method on a municipality because the municipality ought to find a solution. If it can’t then you move up to the next reasonable level. See a sketch of the principle.

Read Albacete’s article.

God unites & sustains society

Two weeks ago in the School of Community we were discussing the answer Msgr. Giussani gave to a questioner who asks if it is reasonable for a non-believer to ask Christ for anything: Giussani says that it is completely reasonable to ask Christ to answer our needs because He is the answer to absolutely everything. Wow! Christ is the answer to everything for all time. Period. Christ is the answer is THE to every question, to every concern we have. Now, let’s be serious: we’re not saying Christ is the answer to whether we’ll eat pasta or cereal today. He’s the answer to questions of meaning, faith, vision, fulfillment, etc. What follows here is the Pope is addressing the matter of how and why the Church is engaged in culture. This is the same work that the World Youth Alliance is doing and what Communion & Liberation is about; the pope’s explanation of ecclessial engagement in culture is reasonable. No?

The Church’s engagement with civil society is anchored in
her conviction that authentic human progress — whether as individuals or
communities — is dependent upon the recognition of the spiritual dimension
proper to every person. It is from God that men and women receive their
essential dignity
(cf. Gen 1:27) and the capacity to transcend particular
interests in order to seek truth and goodness and so find purpose and meaning
in their lives
. This broad perspective provides a framework within which it is
possible to counter any tendency to adopt superficial approaches to social
policy which address only the symptoms of negative trends in family life and
communities, rather than their roots. Indeed, when humanity’s spiritual heart
is brought to light, individuals are drawn beyond themselves to ponder God and
the marvels of human life: being, truth, beauty, moral values, and
relationships that respect the dignity of others. In this way a sure foundation
to unite society and sustain a common vision of hope can be found.

(Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the new Ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See Robert Carey Moore-Jones, May 29, 2009)

Connecticut State Ethics Office charges Diocese of Bridgeport violated law

Connecticut State Officials try to muzzle the Church! In a letter to the people of the Diocese of Bridgeport today, Bishop William Lori states that the gathering of people to protest Bill 1098 that would violate the First Amendment, was a violation of law. The State of Connecticut Ethics committee said this mobilizing of the people amounted to “lobbying” because the Diocese failed to register as a lobbyist (which would invite State regulation). Now the claim is that the Diocese is subject to penalties.
Exhorting the people, i.e., giving information to the people, encouraging the people to take part in democracy, forming the consciences of the people from the pulpit, web-based materials and rallying does not constitute lobbying.
Nutmegers need to contact the State legislator before the end of the legislative session this coming Wednesday.
The Diocese of Bridgeport is filing a civil rights lawsuit in Federal Court against the State of Connecticut seeking relief from government action on this ruling.
For more information see the Diocese of Bridgeport website.

How Obama became Christian

Lorenzo Albacete writes today about President Obama’s becoming Christian. Apparently the President said:

“Perhaps because the church folk I worked with were so welcoming and understanding, perhaps because they invited me to their services and sang with me from their hymnals, perhaps because I was really broke and they fed me. Perhaps because I witnessed all of the good work their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn not just to work with the Church. I was drawn to be in the Church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.”
Read Msgr. Albacete’s analysis the story.

The President & Prayer

This evening the Pastor and I attended the local observance
of the 58th Annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. This year’s theme was “Prayer…America’s Hope.” The occasion was OK. It was Scripture-based with
free prayer offered for certain areas of concern (business, family, education,
military, government, church). I was only impressed that 50 gathered for prayer
for the nation, state and city; I wasn’t particularly impressed by the concern
for all faiths to be represented. One significant disappointment was that it
was too Christian, (too evangelical) and not interfaith. This is not the
typical complaint you would ordinarily hear from me but the fact is event was the
National Day of Prayer it was designed to be inclusive of the city’s various
faith traditions. I freely admit that many occasions of prayer done in the
interfaith mode are vapid and simply not done well. The representatives of the
Jewish and Muslim faiths were not present and neither were the Buddhist monks
nor the Episcopalians nor Lutherans. It would’ve been good to have the
clergypeople from the various ecclesial communities and interfaith communities
present, but let’s be careful not to fall into the trap of essentialism.

The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 by President
Truman and President Reagan determined by resolution in 1988 to observe the day
on the first Thursday of May. 

The problem I have with President Obama on this matter is
that he decided to sideline public observance of prayer under the guise that he
didn’t want to wear his faith on his cufflinks. Fine, don’t make a show it. But
let’s be honest, does the President think he can run the country without God?
Does he think that his example is good leadership? So, ultimately I can accept
that the White House would not have its own prayer time but that they would not
attend any of the other prayer observances in the District, including the
National Day of Prayer Task Force, I find arrogant.

The President’s press secretary Robert Gibbs says that
“Prayer is something the President does everyday.” Really? I am unconvinced.

Of course, the President can neither tell us to pray nor how
to pray but he does open the possibility for the nation to pray for the good of
the nation by his own witness. If an atheist were chagrined by a prayer day
then that person could simply observe a moment of silence or offer a poem that
lends itself to the ideal of patriotism or the common good. Whatever the case
may be in today’s context, the point is that is important to gather people of
good will with the hope of being united in something spiritual, something that
takes the other person’s destiny seriously.

For those interested in some further thinking on ecumenism and interfaith matters, I recommend Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (Ignatius Press, 2004).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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