Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
As we approach our national election and ponder the privilege we have as citizens to vote, I encourage all of you to read the directions given by the USCCB as a voters’ guide. I urge you to be informed about the issues that the Catholic Church and its social teachings place before us. I wish to emphasize the following issues and why they are extremely important to me as a Catholic and a patriotic citizen.
The first issue is religious freedom. As a religious leader, I am more and more convinced that there is a concerted effort being waged to limit the impact of organized religion. This has been true for the last decade with the push toward secularism. Religion, especially the Catholic Church, stands at the forefront in opposition to the social reconstruction that is marketed as a progressive doctrine and deems religion and its teachings as offensive and backward. Will homilies be scrutinized for politically correct positions? Will churches be the subject of interference in their social outreach, being evaluated by whether they carry the banner of political ideologies? We have a higher responsibility which makes us better citizens and more responsible human beings.
I am unabashedly pro-life. The second concern is respect for life from womb to tomb. I am convinced that we will not return to a positive attitude in our country until we protect life, especially the lives of the unborn. The protection of our rights is only as secure as the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable among us, and there is little doubt that the most vulnerable are the unborn. A focus on the “life issues” will give strength to all other social issues. You cannot be pro-social justice if you are not first rooted in respect for life. All of the social issues can only be addressed if you are alive. The aborted unborn are souls whose fulfillment has been denied.
The third issue is the economy and schools. Strong families emerge from economic stability. We need a strong economy supported by a growing middle class. Much of the unrest and inequality exists because of the denial of certain economic opportunities. Every parent should have access to good education choices for their children, and the government should offer these choices. Additionally, training programs that educate men and women in the areas of trades and technology are necessary. The poor have a possibility for social movement through education and economic opportunities. We should support those educational and economic reforms.
The fourth issue of concern for me is our national debt. How can one even wrap their mind around $27 trillion in debt? It is real and needs to be addressed. I am sorry if I exhibit my blue-collar background, but you should not spend what you do not have. I realize that there are values to production and earning potentials. However, if there is not enough in the piggy bank, or enough hours in a day to work for pay, then you must live within your means. This must also be true for the government. All promises made for the special benefits of the people become valueless if there is no money to fulfill them. I have always found it disingenuous when people flippantly say, “Just kick the can down the road,” leaving the problem for future generations. We created it. We own it; not our children.
The fifth issue is security, both nationally and domestically. We should address our internal security against the forces of terrorism and the arbitrary violence which disrupts social harmony, as well as the national defense which protects us from foreign enemies. We are facing a world which not only must be prepared to encounter bullets, but also cyber technology and biochemical warfare as well. I am grateful and supportive of our first responders, the police, fire and emergency personnel who rush to defend vulnerable citizens and allow us to sleep soundly every night. We cannot be so naïve and unaware of the foreign enemies who desire to hurt and even destroy America and its way of Life. Recently, this has been not only foreign but domestic as well. America cannot afford to abdicate its leadership in the world community, and can only do so with a strong and stable American society.
Many may ask why I did not offer other specific issues such as racism, immigration, foreign relations, universal health care, etc. Certainly, there is no end to social issues. However, for these issues to be properly addressed, they must have a foundation of respect for the dignity of life, opportunity to succeed, a strong economy, a sense of security and, of course, an expression of God’s presence in our lives. They systemically affect the nation and its future.
I am a committed Catholic, and I love our country. I will always be a faithful citizen, respecting our Constitution and following Christ’s command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 27, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.