'We are Catholics before we are Americans'

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia marked a redline for Catholics within the polity that is the United States. Once notably oriented towards the Democratic party, Catholics are crucial in the coming presidential election.

 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia has urged Catholics to consider the urgings of their faith, putting aside political labels in favor of adhering to Church teachings. In an interview with the Catholic News Service, less than two weeks before the presidential election, the outspoken cleric made clear the choices Catholics must face, while he also discussed the politics over abortion. Archbishop Chaput called for Catholics to honor faith above country and a “Catholic identity taking precedence over everything.” 
 
“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us,” he said in a new interview with the wire service. “And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,” Archbishop Chaput said. In the interview, he added “[Abortion] is a very serious issue that requires absolute adherence on the part of Catholics,and if we don’t stand united on this issue we’re bound to failure—not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom.”
 
Deal Hudson, who was once an advisor to the George W. Bush administration, applauded Chaput's words. Speaking as president of the Pennsylvania Catholics' Network, Hudson said “That Archbishop Chaput would give an interview with the official news outlet of the USCCB two weeks before the election attests once again to both his courage and his determination to clarify the teaching of the church regarding the priority of the settled issues, such as life and marriage, to Catholic voters.” Continuing in his statement, Hudson said “The PCN commends his courage and implores all Catholics to cling to Chaput’s teaching to put God ahead of politics as they make their election-day decisions.”
 
“As Catholics, we believe in the dignity and worth of each human person,” said Ted Meehan of PCN in a statement. “This recognition leads to both democracy and free enterprise. These are the blessings which have brought freedom and greatness to America. America’s greatness comes from the virtue of its people, not from dependence upon its government.”


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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