Just to warn you- this homily will be a little longer because it is simply too important.
The Devil is a divider who will use almost any tactic to separate Christians from Christ...except for one. He doesn’t typically come right out and say, “Deny Jesus Christ!” because he knows that someone who loves Jesus would immediately reject the suggestion. So, he tends to use more subtle means and subtle words.
But more on that later... For now, let’s deal with something closer to home, and very much in the forefront of many people’s minds: the 2016 presidential election. But let’s do so from a Catholic perspective. Let’s consider the intersection of the practice of our Catholic faith and the exercise of our civic duty, especially when it comes to voting. Let’s first acknowledge that there has never been a political party in the United States that is perfectly aligned with Catholic teaching on every issue. That does not mean, however, that we are therefore automatically free to vote for either major party, because one party can be much further from Catholic principles on the most important issues than the other party. We might not like either candidate as a person, but when we decide who to vote for, we must consider what he or she stands for, and what they say they will do or will not do. As a result of that, we are often faced with the task of discerning which party and which policies are most in line with Catholic teaching, and which ones aren’t. Many issues are subject to the prudential judgment of Catholic voters. What does that mean? It means that Catholics can legitimately disagree, for example, on the best way to address issues such as capital punishment, racial injustice, education, the economy, immigration, just war, etc and still remain in good standing in the Church. There are other issues, however, which are matters of intrinsic evil—actions that can never, at any time, under any circumstances be committed, promoted or even enabled by a faithful Catholic, these are non-negotiable. The non-negotiables include: abortion, Physician assisted suicide, Same-sex marriage, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, and religious liberty.
Even the word “abortion” has been drained of its meaning—we treat it like nothing more than a term that starts a heated debate rather than a procedure that stops a heartbeat. We use words like “choice” or “reproductive rights” or “women’s health” or other sanitized statements in order to cover up what abortion is and what abortion does. Likewise, many want to treat abortion as merely one issue among many.
One of the Devil’s tactics is to encourage us to make excuses for our participation in really bad things by appealing to other good things that we support, which we try to convince ourselves somehow “cancel out” the grave evil we enable. Take capital punishment, for example. If you bring up abortion, some people will say, “I’m against capital punishment...and if you’re against abortion, then you should be against capital punishment!” Fair enough. What is the biggest objection to capital punishment? That innocent people might be mistakenly put to death. And it must be acknowledged that innocent people very well could be unjustly executed due to the many flaws in our legal system. And this very reason for opposing capital punishment is precisely the reason that Catholics must never willingly support or even enable abortion with their vote. Because, while some innocent people have no doubt been put to death mistakenly through capital punishment, in abortion an innocent person is always put to death, and never by mistake. It’s always chosen...always intended. If a person is against capital punishment, then, they necessarily must be against abortion because the intention of abortion is to knowingly and deliberately kill an innocent boy or girl—each and every time. What about war? People who vigorously oppose the wars in the Middle East, for example, often quote statistics on the great number of innocent people accidently killed in the crossfire. “Collateral damage”—the innocent people killed in war—is, perhaps the greatest tragedy of war. But if a person opposes the accidental killing of innocent people in war, while enabling the intentional killing of the most innocent human beings on the planet with their vote—well...this is hypocrisy of the most extreme kind. If a person opposes war because of the accidental, unintended deaths of innocent people, they necessarily must oppose abortion because the killing in abortion is neither accidental nor unintended, but always directly willed. Sometimes we hear the stupendously deceptive claim that a candidate or party will reduce abortions by improving economic or social conditions, while simultaneously promoting abortion as a right worth protecting. But let’s face facts: Abortion is not caused by economics or social conditions. Economic and social factors are, no doubt, circumstances that affect a mother’s decision in some cases, but they are not causes. After all, if eliminating abortion were merely a matter of economics, or access to healthcare, or other socioeconomic factors, then why do wealthy mothers also abort their babies? So abortion, or any of the other intrinsically evil acts, cannot just be seen as one of the political issues among many. Therefore, when we vote, we cannot treat abortion just as an opinion, but rather it is a commandment from God, Thou Shall not kill- and as a Catholic must stand up for a commandment of God before our own opinion.
Now, before we go any further in discussing the extremely sensitive issue of abortion... I want to say a word to any woman in this congregation here today who has chosen abortion: God’s mercy is bigger than your sin and your pain. In 6 years of priesthood, I have often been blessed to welcome a woman back to the merciful embrace of God the Father after she has admitted to, and repented of, her abortion in the Sacrament of Confession. A priest in such a situation has the privilege of assuring the woman that she has never lost the love of God the Father, nor her dignity as his beloved daughter, no matter what she did. And so I say to these women today: You do not have to hide from God any longer. I know your pain is real, that your loss is immense and that your choice was devastating. But when you experience God’s loving mercy even after the abortion, you will really come to know and experience that God’s love in forgiving our most serious sins is even greater than his love in creating us. Your Father has been waiting for you for a very long time. Come home to Him!
So let’s stop beating around the bush with regard to the current presidential race:
If you do not know which candidate and party I’m referring to, then you should not even consider voting until you do know! Ignorance in this area is unacceptable, because ignorance in this area costs millions of babies their lives and jeopardizes the souls of many Catholics voters.
On the other hand, if you DO know which candidate and party want to promote and expand abortion, and you still intend to enable them to continue their war on the unborn with the help of your vote, then it is my duty as a priest to tell you that your soul will be in grave danger, especially if you present yourself for Holy Communion after casting such a vote with the full knowledge of what you’re doing.
Every election season, when a priest addresses such topics from the pulpit, a certain portion of the population complains that he’s preaching politics: “A priest has no business discussing politics in church!” That’s what some people say. Even though as I said, abortion isn’t a political issue as much as it is a prohibition from God- thou shall not kill. But what does God say to the priest whom he has designated to be spiritual father for the people entrusted to his care? The same thing he said to the Prophet Ezekiel: “...I have made [you] a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his [sin], but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his [sin], but you will have saved your life. (Ez 33:7-9)
There are plenty of Catholics who, quite rightly, have criticized bishops and priests in recent years for not having spoken out more forcefully against the sexual abuse of children by priests. Why, then, do many of these same Catholics want to silence bishops and priests who speak out forcefully against killing innocent children? Why is opposing sexual abuse of children a matter of justice, but opposing the murder of children a matter of “preaching politics”? Regardless of the resistance, a priest must follow the example of Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles when it comes to preaching difficult truths. To those who sought to silence their proclamation of the Gospel these Apostles boldly responded: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for [I] cannot but speak of what [I] have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19- 20) A priest is not only protected by the 1st Amendment (at least for now). He is also bound by the 5th Commandment—Thou Shalt Not Kill. If a priest doesn’t speak up for those most vulnerable in our society, and if the Catholic faithful don’t actively protect the most vulnerable in our society by refusing to enable their deliberate destruction with their vote, then such Catholics are condoning the killing by their cowardice. Part of every Catholic’s share in the hardship for the Gospel is that we must repent of our actions that are offensive to God and destructive to our brothers and sisters. And we must oppose the threats to innocent life that are most real and most urgent. Make no mistake! There is no single issue that threatens innocent human life more directly, consistently and urgently than the deliberate killing of baby boys and baby girls in their mother’s womb. No...issue! In the time since this homily started, at least 30 children have been deliberately executed in the womb in the United States—and that’s just the ones that are reported.
Let me sum up with some very challenging words: “We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable among us. Whoever fails to do this, when otherwise able to do so, commits a serious sin of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual wellbeing and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion.” Catholics in the Public Square, 4th Ed., p. 25
Now, I hope you realize that it takes a lot of courage for a priest to communicate such challenging words as these—reminding his people that some actions are so gravely sinful that they render a Catholic unworthy to receive Holy Communion until there is complete repentance. A priest who is more concerned about the state of his people’s souls than they are themselves, deserves the esteem of his people for his willingness to speak such difficult truth to them with genuine love—to put the welfare of his people’s souls ahead of his own reputation, popularity or comfort. Such a priest should receive respect, admiration and support, rather than their resistance or criticism. So please pray for, thank and encourage the spiritual father that God has appointed for you and who loves you enough to tell you the truth. Because the priest who said these particular words...is your bishop...and mine.
Now that I have expressed to you our Catholic faith, I leave you with a question from our 2nd reading: Will you, through how you vote, be able to say like St. Paul, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.BACK TO LIST