I was glad to read last night that the potential government shutdown was averted. Our congressional leaders were responsible for making some difficult choices and because of this they were able to keep the government running. I was pleased to read this morning’s article from the associated press describing the situation.
However the article also tells us that this temporary deal points to some critical issues and decisions as we move forward. Yesterday I posted an article from NY times that offers a good suggestion regarding a national discussion over the size and role of government especially in our concern for its spending. This morning’s good news should not overshadow the reflective conversation we as nation still need to have, especially since we can be sure that the issue will continue to find expression throughout this congressional year. My first opinion from my Catholic faith is that we should responsibly have respectful dialogue among ourselves within our families, parish community and associations regarding the role, responsibility and size of government. Catholic social teachings offers some wonderful insight into this and yesterday’s post shares some of that insight. Pope Benedict XVI invited us this year in his World Day of Peace message to be agents of peace by promoting respectful dialogue on promoting the moral message of the religious communities within the political conversation.
Politics and diplomacy should look to the moral and spiritual patrimony offered by the great religions of the world in order to acknowledge and affirm universal truths, principles and values.
My second opinion is with regards to the issues that nearly compromised this budgetary deal. Two primary issues were on the table, abortion with the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the further deregulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Catholic social teaching offers very clear teaching on both issues. As I read about the first issue I see that Planned Parenthood is responsible for offering the greatest numbers of abortion in this country which is clearly seen as a moral evil by the Church. It is the primary issue that violates the principle of “Human Dignity.” It is argued that Planned Parenthood offers other services to low income women so that in the end abortion constitutes 3% of their services. Surely Congress can find a way to offer funding restrictions so that whatever they offer for healthcare treatment is restricted from any abortion practices. I have worked with organizations and know that they can allow for restricted funding. If money is donated with specific restriction then organizations are bound to honor that restriction because if they do not then that money is taken away.
As for the EPA here is another moral issue that the Catholic Church has spoken on with regards to the “Stewardship of Creation” principle. If we are to promote the sanctity of life on this planet it behooves us to offer that life a viable planet to live in. It is not in our interest to deregulate an already weakened EPA from monitoring business practices that have ecological consequences.
Based on my understanding of Catholic social teaching this is how I see these specific issues that were on the forefront of this recent budget debate. They may surface again. If so we should also consider our moral position on these issues and feel free to express them to our congressional representatives so that we can offer them the “moral and spiritual patrimony” of our faith tradition.