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Defending Life: Series #9

[The ninth season of Fr. Frank Pavone's "Defending Life" series on EWTN was taped in the summer of 2003 and is airing in 2004. Below is an outline of Episode 1 of that series.]

Show 1 -- "Church and State"

"The Church and politics: is the Church too involved, or not involved enough?"

Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical letter on the Eucharist in the Spring of 2003. In it he wrote, "Certainly the Christian vision leads to the expectation of "new heavens" and "a new earth" (Rev 21:1), but this increases, rather than lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today. I wish to reaffirm this forcefully at the beginning of the new millennium, so that Christians will feel more obliged than ever not to neglect their duties as citizens in this world. Theirs is the task of contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God's plan."-- Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n.20

Throughout her history, the Church has said both Yes and No to the State. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" is the yes; "Give to God what is God's" contains the no.

The "yes" is echoed in Scriptures such as Rom. 13:1-7 and 1 Pt.2:13ff, indicating that the state is established by God, and that we must honor the emperor, pay taxes, and pray for those in leadership. Jer. 29 even instructs the exiles to pray for and build up the city of their captors!

The "no" takes over, however, whenever a human command or law strikes at the law of God or the core of the faith. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 4 and 5).

So it is with abortion. The Church teaches that laws permitting abortion are not valid laws, and lack all authority.

You and I are called to change such laws by participating in self-governance. Our bishops have written, "The Gospel of life must be proclaimed and human life defended in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes…the voting booth." -- 1998, US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, n.33.

There is a lot that the Church can do to encourage people in their political responsibility, including the following:

* Speak about the issues

* Speak about the duties of government

* Declare that unjust laws are unjust

* Inform us of our duty to vote

* Tell us what issues matter the most

* Conduct non-partisan voter-registration drives

* Inform us about where candidates stand on the issues

* Allow a candidate to appear at a Church service

* Allow others to distribute candidate literature in Church parking lots

* Allow political news stories and even ads (at the normal rate) in the Church bulletin.

You can get guidance on all this, including direction toward candidate info, at


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •