Tuesday September 30, 2014
5:44 pm

Still time to register to vote; pray for end of nuclear weapons

      In our Catholic teaching, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life and in seeking the common good are moral obligations. These obligations are rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus and to bear witness to His Gospel values in all we do. In the words of Pope Francis:  “To be human means to care for one another!” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us:  “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his/her position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person…As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.” (#1913-1915)

      One of the great privileges of being an American citizen is the opportunity to conscientiously voice our opinions through the electoral process. Very few exercised this privilege in the 2014 primary election on May 6th. It is not too late to register to vote in the November election. If you are not yet registered to vote, please do so before October 6th. It is only necessary that you be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old by the day of the next election, have lived in your precinct at least 30 days before the next election, and not currently be in prison for a crime.

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      Pope Francis often reminds us that God created the world to be a house of harmony and peace. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. We are to live as one family in which our relationships are marked by true fraternity. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters.

      The pope also reminds us that violence, division, disagreement, and war occur when we give into selfishness, place ourselves and our own interests as central, make idols of dominion and power, and put ourselves in God’s place. Peace is possible when we speak to one another in a language of reconciliation, forgiveness, and dialogue. Pope Francis insists that violence and war are never the way to peace, that they are a defeat for humanity.

      As disciples of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, it is our responsibility to pray for peace and to speak out in behalf of peace. Sadly, nuclear weapons remain both a timely issue and a grave threat to human life and dignity. Most Americans are not aware that there are still thousands of nuclear weapons poised for launch.

      In 1963, in light of the Cuban missile crisis, St. John XXIII taught:  “Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.” Every pope since then has repeated this plea.

      Since the plea of St. John XXIII, nuclear threats have multiplied. In addition to the five original nuclear weapon states – China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States – India, Pakistan, and Israel have acquired them, and others like North Korea and possibly Iran seek to do so.

      A bipartisan group of senior statesmen, including former Secretaries of State and former Senators, are committed to work for a world without nuclear weapons, a goal supported by the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our concern for nuclear weapons stems from our commitment to protect human life. We view nuclear weapons as morally problematic because they can bring disproportionate and indiscriminate destruction in loss of life on a massive scale.

      Those with the political and technical skills of policymakers, experts, and scientists are needed to create concrete solutions that will build confidence, verify compliance, and ensure accountability as the world moves to zero nuclear weapons. Our political leaders need your support for making difficult solutions.

      God heeds the pleas of His people. We might well use the prayer of Pope Francis:  “Lord of life, bring your peace to where the fate of nations is decided…Stop with your creative power all violence and war against human life. War is always a defeat for humanity.”

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