the Faithful to Live and Vote According to Their Beliefs
BOSTON, Massachusetts, 26 AUG. 2003 (ZENIT).
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
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
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
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 economic-justice 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
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
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
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
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
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
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. ZE03082623