Tag Archives: America

The Dual Citizenship of Catholic Americans

July 1, 2016

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July 4 is the celebration of Independence Day, the birthday of our country, the United States of America, and our citizenship in this great nation.  This national holiday is an occasion to reflect on the nature of dual citizenship, how a Christian is a citizen of a universal spiritual kingdom, the Kingdom of God, and an earthly kingdom, our country, the United States.

A Christian is a citizen of the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints, and the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, a Christian American has dual citizenship and dual allegiance, God and country.  The order is significant.  Both deserve love and loyalty, but they do not have equal standing.  God comes first.  God ranks above all else.  God is the principle focus of a Christian’s love and affection.  God is to be served first.  The Word of God, whether it is the law of love, the beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, other precepts in Scripture, or the teachings of the Church, are the principle statutes and decrees that govern a Christian’s life.

While spiritual citizenship ranks first and has precedence, earthly citizenship is vitally important.  Jesus highlighted this when he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Mt 22:21).  A Christian has a duty and a moral obligation to “give to Caesar,” to be an active, responsible, contributing member of the earthly kingdom, in our case, the USA.

On Independence Day American citizens celebrate “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” the “sweet land of liberty,” a country with amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plains.  Our ancestors fought for our independence so we could have a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The Church recognizes the rightful place of countries, governments, government leaders, and civils laws.  They are necessary for a well-ordered society.  Governments come in many forms.  Ours is a constitutional democracy.  All governments must serve the common good:  “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more easily” (Gaudium et spes, 26.1).  It consists of three elements:  respect for the individual person, the social well-being and development of the group, and peace, a prerequisite for the common good to flourish (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1907-1909).

The Church teaches that Christians have duties as citizens “to contribute along with civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom.  The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity.  Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community” (CCC, No. 2239).

“Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country” (CCC, No. 2240).  All Americans, Christians included, would be well to ask, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” (John F. Kennedy inauguration speech), and as good citizens, it is our civic duty to serve our fellow Americans and to work for the betterment of our city, state, and country, “One nation under God.”

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Are Catholic universities doing enough to foster the religion-science dialogue?

April 7, 2011

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CNS photo/NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team, Reuters

New scientific advancements are rapidly changing the way we live and how we think about the world and the universe. At the same time, these advancements often raise new moral and religious questions.

Unfortunately, “few Catholic universities have devoted resources to educating theologians willing to engage with the scientific world,” says Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, in a recent article in America magazine, “Faith and The Cosmos: Can Catholic Universities Foster Dialogue Between Religion and Science?”

In this well-written commentary, Sister Delio, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, argues that Catholic universities need to do more to become leaders in promoting the religion-science dialogue. And that includes engaging seminarians more on the topic so they are better prepared to address important pastoral issues when they become priests.

The church has a valuable contribution to make in this area. Sister Delio writes:

“While the church recognizes the importance of science for the development of faith, it also recognizes the limits of science as the ultimate horizon of meaning. . . .

“Theologians are needed to reflect on the big questions of meaning and purpose in light of evolution, ecology and technology, as well as to comment on the moral questions raised, especially by the biomedical sciences.”

The latter field is especially in need of clear reflection in light of the moral and ethical dimensions of stem-cell research, cloning and care for the terminally ill.

Sister Delio’s article is well worth taking the time to read.

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