Ray Flynn Talks of a New Catholic Political Movement in U.S.
Encourages the Faithful to Live and Vote According to Their Beliefs
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BOSTON, Massachusetts, AUG. 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A group of laity has formed a nonpartisan political movement that hopes to motivate and educate Catholic citizens for full political and social participation.
The president of the group, called Your Catholic Voice, is Raymond Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and former mayor of Boston. He shared with ZENIT his views on the group's goals.
Q: What is Your Catholic Voice and why is there a need for it?
Flynn: The Your Catholic Voice movement is a response to the call of the Church for loyal and faithful participation by the laity in social and political action.
It is an independent, Catholic, lay, volunteer-run and nonpartisan organization that seeks to inform our lives and our participation in society by our faith. Its goal is to help Catholics cultivate their faith through a better understanding of the social teachings of the Church and encourage Catholics' participation in politics.
Independence from the Church is necessary for the success of the movement and for the protection of the Church, but the group is completely faithful to the teaching of the Church. Our Catholic faith is neither liberal nor conservative, neither Democratic nor Republican, but true.
We aspire to have every Catholic be a faithful citizen and to become an informed, active and responsible participant in the political process.
Your Catholic Voice agrees with what the U.S. council of Catholic bishops once said: "We believe every candidate, policy and political platform should be measured by how they touch the human person; whether they enhance or diminish human life, dignity and human rights; and how they advance the common good."
We will give voice to the teachings of Jesus Christ, whether that discussion takes place in the White House, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Congress, our state or local communities.
We are controlled by no political party or candidate, but are determined to make our voice and vote count and help build a more compassionate and just country. We will be active and we will be faithful. As Pope John Paul II said, "Faith that does not affect a person's culture is a faith not fully embraced, not entirely thought out, not fully lived."
When I am asked to describe my political philosophy, I say, "That's easy. I am pro-life, pro-family and pro-poor." I'm quick to say that goes hand-in-hand with my love for Jesus Christ. Then I add, "I'm a proud social- and economicjustice Catholic."
We understand that faithful Catholics of good will, through prudential judgment, may disagree over different policies to accomplish similar objectives. For that reason, Your Catholic Voice will only focus on those issues on which the Church's teachings are so abundantly clear that there is no room for misunderstanding.
We are united to the principal mission of Your Catholic Voice, which is to both cultivate and activate Catholics for a response to the call of faithful citizenship.
The need for a strong, clear, unafraid and independent Catholic political voice is critical at this time in our culture. No such organization or voice presently exists in the United States that seeks to evangelize and activate its members. We seek neither popularity nor recognition. We do intend to restore credibility, dignity and respect for the values and principles of our Catholic Faith.
Q: Can you briefly explain the four pillars of your organization: life, family, freedom and solidarity?
Flynn: Your Catholic Voice affirms the inviolable dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, at every stage and every age. We are committed to supporting and advancing every legislative effort to ensure that the dignity of every human person becomes the polestar of all public policy.
We affirm the primacy of the family as the first cell of society, the first church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy and the first mediating institution of society.
A just philosophy of government is based upon the understanding that the family is the first government and that all other government must first be at its service. To the community and its public policy, we will work to increase understanding and respect for the fact that the family is the first vital cell of human society.
Through the pillar of human freedom, Your Catholic Voice is committed to the most basic freedom: the freedom of religious expression.
Freedom has two sides to its reach -- both a freedom "from" and a freedom "for." Though we may be free to choose, our choices must be bounded by truth and exercised within a moral framework. It brings with it a social obligation and commitment to human solidarity.
As for solidarity, Your Catholic Voice is dedicated to a Catholic Christian understanding of the social mission. That understanding requires that we have a "heart" -- in the biblical sense of the fundamental core commitment -- for the "poor and vulnerable" wherever they exist among us.
Q: What role should parishes, parishioners and the media have to educate and inform Catholics about politics and politicians?
Flynn: Most of the media disagrees with Catholic Church teachings, so I would not hold out much hope for them to give fair and balanced coverage to issues relevant to the Catholic Church.
Catholics need to get a few strong voices in the media -- people who will not be intimidated by the anti-Catholic culture in which we presently live.
Catholics should boycott media sponsors that are unfair and disrespectful to the Church and its moral principles.
I think the Catholic media has a major role in helping encourage Catholics to live their faith by giving examples of others who are doing it by publicly speaking out on the issues of the day with their consciences informed by faith.
The Catholic media should provide more discussion on how our culture has intimidated many Catholics into thinking that their faith life should be private and they should not express values publicly less they offend others. This is a mistake, as the Holy Father points out. Catholics cannot live two lives -- a faith life and a secular life.
Catholic parishes should open up their community rooms and invite and support candidates of any religion who agree with Church teachings, just like all the other religious groups have been doing for years.
Catholic clergy have been intimidated also. Parishioners can help by praying for our priests and bishops and by learning more about the Church's social teachings so that they can support and defend the Church. Only then will we be able to have a changing impact on our culture.
Q: How do you claim to be nonpartisan, but focus mainly on family and life issues? Won't that lead most Catholic voters toward Republican candidates?
Flynn: I don't believe either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party reflects Catholic Church values. I agree with the Democratic Party's once-proud tradition of being a fighter for the working men and women. But I also strongly disagree with its anti-life, anti-family agenda.
On the other hand, I don't think the Republican Party cares enough about the poor and needy, even though some of its national leaders are courageous defenders of life and family values.
Q: Your literature calls for a new "Catholic Action." What exactly is that?
Flynn: It is time to build a new alliance for the common good; a new public philosophy that rediscovers and represents the common good as the hinge and the hope of our future freedom and flourishing as a nation, and our path to authentic peace.
This philosophy must inform a movement committed to true social justice, human rights, authentic human freedom and solidarity. Catholics cannot depend on politicians and political parties to do this for us. We have to stand up and demand the respect that everyone is entitled to in a democratic republic.