Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost—16 October AD 2016

Please Note:

This sermon speaks to the desirability of Civil Law being as closely as possible in accord with Divine Law.  This is an absolute--a sort of "God's way or the highway" for government legitimacy.  But all of us are sinners, and God has mercy on repentant sinners.  The individual who has sinned should not be afraid to repent and contritely confess his sins.
"I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance,
more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance."


Roman Denarius-Tribute Coin-Tiberius Cæsar[*]

“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar' s;
and to God, the things that are God' s."

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

Today’s Gospel is one among two or three Scripture passages often erroneously quoted to promote unquestioning support for the policies of governments.  The thirteenth chapter of Saint Paul’s epistle to the Romans is another: “[The Prince] is God' s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.”[2]  Another, in the same vein. would be our Lord’s words to Pontius Pilate who asserted power to crucify Him:  “Thou wouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above”—the implication being that the Roman government actually had authority from God.[3]

    It must be clearly understood that all power does come from God, but that power is legitimately administered only by governments that rule in general accord with the laws of God.  I say “general accord,” for few governments are one hundred percent in accord with God’s laws.  I am very enthusiastic about the American Republic of the Founding Fathers, but giving it “100%” would be unrealistic.  As we approach the November election, the question most upward in our minds should be: how much less than “100%” is our current government, and what will our votes do to increase or decrease that percentage.  As Catholics we must admit to an obligation to vote for candidates who will actually increase America’s conformity to God’s will.

    Otto von Bismarck, no great friend of the Church, tells us that “politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best”—we may not hit “100%” but we should whatever is possible to approach that mark as closely as possible.[4]

    So what are the issues that Catholics must vote upon?  Our Declaration of independence speaks of men and women being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[5] 

    Above all other matters a legitimate government must respect it's citizens' right to act on an informed conscience, and the right to life for all human beings from conception till natural death.  Any other rights are meaningless without these two.  Without life one can do nothing on this earth, and without freedom of conscience one can do nothing to please God.

    Correlative to the right to life, we can name a few intrinsically evil behaviors—things that government should not allow, and certainly shouldn't encourage: abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryo destructive research or treatments, and same sex “marriage.” Of course even these admit of greater and lesser evil.  Those that take an innocent human life are most seriously wrong.  This may be important in a real world political contest.  A candidate may have wrong ideas about the lesser evils and still be preferable to a candidate who has wrong ideas about a greater evil.

    There are a number of moral issues that will require a prudential judgment by the voter.  For example, immigration is a complex issue wherein the voter will have to weigh the nation's obligations in charity against its own needs and its own security. The voter must distinguish between immigrants who are merely different from us and those that are dangerous to us. There should be no threat that a community's resources (like hospitals, schools, police force, and welfare programs) will be overloaded.

    Capital punishment often comes up as a political issue.  It should not be confused with the right to life issues, for in a just society it is inflicted on the guilty but not on the innocent.  While the possibility exists that innocent people may be put to death, the society must employ judicial procedures designed to minimize that possibility.  While the mandate for capital punishment is found in sacred Scripture[6] it should be noted that a society may elect not to follow that mandate, but must be sure that abstaining from administering it will not jeopardize the citizens or place an unreasonable economic burden on them.  Saint Thomas says that the death penalty benefits the converted murderer by expiating his sin.[7]

    Welfare programs are another opportunity for making prudential judgements.  Ideally charity is best administered by the Church and local communities and not by the government.  Even government funding of local charities has its problems.  Church authorities eager to receive lavish funding have sometimes financed immoral behavior and encouraged reckless immigration policies.  Voters also must address the effects of welfare policy on the recipient—people ought not be made to become dependents by incentives not to work, and families must not be torn apart in order to maximize payments.  Wherever possible there must be an emphasis on developing self-reliance.

    Some issues exist only because governments want to acquire greater power.  Excessive regulation of people and industry often springs from cronyism.  Over regulation expands the size of government payrolls and top salaries, and often will bring campaign contributions from large firms, better able to cope with the regulations than their smaller competitors.  Great centralization of power (even global centralization) tends to infringe the God given rights of the people for the benefit of the ruling elite.

    Environmental issues are often power grabs.   Yet the worst examples of environmental destruction have come under big governments.[8]  No one wants to live in a polluted world, but voters ought to examine scientific claims carefully. [9] Claims to environmental destruction need to be verified by real world observation and not just reference to computer models and “adjusted: data.[10]  The ice is expanding at both poles and the bears are doing fine.[11]  The “climate refuges”  don’t exist. [12]

    I started out by mentioning “freedom to act on an informed conscience.”  No government has the authority to compel people to violate God’s laws.  Yet we have seen nuns required to carry insurance for contraception and abortion, doctors required to perform abortions and euthanasia, and caterers forced to cater same sex “wedding” parties.  This is right up there with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    The human life issues are, of course, paramount.  A candidate may get some of the lesser issues wrong without being unacceptable.  The Family Research Council has published a chart listing the positions of the major candidates on the major issues at .  I put a copy on the bulletin board for those without internet access.  Most all of the candidates have websites describing their position on the issues.

    I ask you to become informed about the candidates you can vote for, to be registered to vote (Tuesday, October 18th is the deadline to register in Florida), and then on election day (November 8th) go to the polls and vote to make our government as close to being 100% in conformity with God’s laws as possible.

Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s—but fist, be sure that they actually belong to Cæsar.


[2]   Romans xiii: 1-7 (verse 4 cited)

[7]   Summa Theologica II-II Q.25 a.6 reply to objection 2

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