No such thing as 'personally opposed'

remember: Chaput rhymes with slap-you

Since the 1960s, many American Catholics have been acting like we’re lucky just to be tolerated in the public square. In other words, we’d better not be too Catholic or somebody will be offended. That’s a mistake. It’s a recipe for losing our faith and throwing away any hope for a national political discourse based on conviction. It’s also important to notice that most of today’s anti-Catholic prejudice in the public square is different from the past. It doesn’t come from other religious believers. It comes from people who don’t want any religious influence in public debates.That’s not pluralism. It’s not democracy. Democracy and pluralism depend on people of conviction fighting for what they believe through public debate – peacefully, legally, charitably and justly; but also vigorously and without excuses. Divorcing our personal convictions from our public choices and actions is not “good manners.” On the contrary, it can be a very serious kind of theft from the moral treasury of the nation, because the most precious thing anyone can bring to any political conversation is an hon- est witness to what he or she really believes.

This applies to elected officials. It applies to voters. It applies to you and me. Belief in God has profoundly shaped what Americans believe about human dignity; the law; the common good; and justice. To cut God out of the public square is to cut the head and heart from our public life.

What we really believe, we conform our lives to. And if we don’t conform our lives to what we claim to believe, then we’re living a lie. When public officials claim to be “Catholic” but then say they can’t offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things. They’re either very confused, or they’re very evasive. All law is the imposition of somebody’s beliefs on somebody else. That’s exactly the reason we have debates, and elections, and Congress – to turn the struggle of ideas and moral convictions into laws that guide our common life.

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