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EPISODE #257
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRIST IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

Hosts Deacon Steve Greco and Rick Howick of the OC Catholic Radio Show team up for a timely conversation about how we can truly reflect Jesus Christ in our lives to the society at large.

This is such an important conversation to have during this election season.

 

Listen in – and you will want to SHARE this podcast with others!

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 9/6/20

CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

ALTHOUGH MUDSLINGING is about as old as politics itself, in the modern age of hyper-partisanism, not to mention social media, it seems to have taken a particularly odious turn. The rancorous discourse, which only figures to ratchet up with the 2020 national and presidential elections looming, has seeped into the society, communities, parishes and families as well, increasingly setting people at odds.  

This has caused leaders in the faith community to stand up and say, “Enough already.” 

In response, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in December announced “Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate,” an effort to promote “civility, love for neighbor and respectful dialogue.” The bishops have asked Catholics to sign and share a pledge on Civilizeit.org to be respectful in their families, communities and parishes. 

According to the bishops, “The initiative is built on the recognition that every person—even those with whom we disagree—is a beloved child of God who possesses inherent dignity.” 

Civilize It builds on a similar effort implemented in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in previous election years. It is being offered in concert with a wider ecumenical effort, Golden Rule 2020 (goldenrule2020.org/).  

In the Diocese of Orange, Father Al Baca, who returned to the diocese as director of the Office of Evangelization and Faith Formation after serving with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he works to act with civility, patience and respect and expects that from all in his office in matters political and otherwise. “We try to model that patience,” he said. 

Although Fr. Baca did not mention any upcoming programs yet that specifically focus on Civilize It or election-year behavior, he did note that all diocese programs are predicated on respect and that Bishop Kevin Vann has addressed the issue from the pulpit. 

A main trap that leads to rancor, Fr. Baca said, is when people personalize their arguments. 

“It seems the only way to avoid that is to focus not on the people and the candidates, but the issues. No one gets hurt that way,” he said. “But when candidates and people are involved, it’s hard to get back to ‘What were we talking about? What was the issue?’” 

Personal attacks are nothing new in the political landscape. 

John Adams, the second president of the United States, once called Alexander Hamilton, born out of wedlock, “the bastard son of a Scotch peddler.” In turn, Adams was once labeled in a political piece as “a hideous hermaphroditical character.”  

While little in the modern age sinks quite so low, sensitivity has also been heightened and Catholics have urged political leaders to tone down the rhetoric. Fr. Baca recalls Bishop Jaime Soto, who, during his tenure as president of the California Catholic Conference, wrote in 2016 about the need for civility in political discourse. 

“That’s when I recall I thought about it a lot,” Fr. Baca said, “and how on the parish level it seemed to be seeping into the community.” 

In 2016, more than 5,600 religious sisters of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the 49,000 sisters in the U.S., signed a letter asking for civil discourse in the presidential election season. “We simply ask that all who seek to lead refrain from language that disrespects, dehumanizes or demonizes another,” the letter said. “We pray that all who seek to influence public opinion will be mindful of the common good and respectful of the dignity of each and every person.” 

The letter also quoted remarks Pope Francis made in a 2015 address to Congress that said, “Unfortunately, we live in a time when our politics is too often marked by self-interest and demeaning rhetoric. We seem to be caught in a political system paralyzed by ideological extremism and hyper-partisanship.” 

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said in a statement, “‘Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate’ is a call for Catholics to honor the human dignity of each person they encounter, whether it is online, at the dinner table, or in the pews next to them.” 

Fr. Baca says rather than concentrating on a candidate’s personal resonance, or dissonance for that matter, people should consider how the candidate’s ideology conforms not only with their conscience but with their Catholic conscience. 

That should cause the voter to “slow down, step back and look at the issues that are important to them. That really has to be the determining factor.” 

As for keeping family get-togethers from turning into casserole-tossing free-for-alls, Fr. Baca says it may be best in advance to agree to talk about non-combative topics. 

“For some families there may be issues they can agree on. They can enjoy being with each other and that can lead to a gentle time.”

AMID PANDEMIC, POLITICIANS MUST PUT COUNTRY OVER PARTY, POPE SAYS

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis began his morning Mass by praying for political leaders and calling on them to put the welfare of their people above their party’s interests during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We pray today for the men and women who have a vocation to politics; politics is a high form of charity,” he said April 20, adding a prayer “for the political parties of various countries so that, in this moment of pandemic, they may seek together the good of the country and not the good of their own party.” 

In his homily at the Mass, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. John in which Nicodemus, a Pharisee, tells Jesus that he believes he is “a teacher who has come from God for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” 

Jesus’ response that “unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God,” confuses Nicodemus who took the response literally, the pope explained. 

Yet, Jesus’ answer is a call for Nicodemus to “be born of Spirit,” which is unpredictable like the wind but makes a person free, he said. 

“A person who lets himself or herself to be carried from one side to another by the Holy Spirit—this is the freedom of the Spirit,” the pope said. “Whoever does this is a docile person, and here we are talking about docility to the Spirit.” 

While obeying the Ten Commandments is important, it is not what defines a good Christian, he added. A good Christian allows “the Spirit to enter you and take you where he wants you.” 

“To be born again means letting the Spirit enter into us and allowing the Spirit, not myself, to guide me,” the pope said. To be born again is to be “free with this freedom of the Spirit in which you will never know where you will end up.” 

Pope Francis also spoke about the day’s first reading in which Peter and John visited the Christian community following their release from interrogation by the chief priests and elders. 

EPISODE#26
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: GUEST IS GREG WALGENBACH, DIRECTOR OF LIFE JUSTICE AND PEACE FOR THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE

On today’s program, Fr. Christopher welcomes Greg Walgenbach to our studios on the campus of Christ Cathedral. Greg is the Director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange.

We’re going to talk about many of the unique ministries that Greg is involved in; and, how we as Catholics can be more active in providing a ‘voice for the voiceless’ in our communities.

Some important topics of discussion here, so be sure to tune in!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 3/7/20

‘NEVER ACCEPT’ SEPARATION OF FAITH FROM POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT, CHAPUT SAYS 

Washington D.C., Jul 9, 2019 / 01:10 pm (CNA) – Christians are called to win the battle of ideas and values in secular society, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said Tuesday.

In a speech delivered to the Alliance Defending Freedom Summit on Religious Liberty July 9, the archbishop said authentic religious freedom is essential in shaping a society of love, “the animating spirit of all authentically Christian political action.”

“I mean love in the biblical sense: love with a heart of courage, love determined to build justice in society and focused on the true good of the whole human person, body and soul.”

Chaput told the audience of lawyers from around the world that Christians must work to build an authentic vision of society built around the common good, and that “human progress means more than getting more stuff, more entitlements, and more personal license.”

“Real human progress satisfies the human hunger for solidarity and communion,” Chaput said. “When our leaders and their slogans tell us to move ‘forward into the future,’ we need to take a very hard look at the road we’re on, where ‘forward’ leads, and whether it ennobles the human soul or just aggravates our selfishness, our isolation, and our appetite for things.”

True religious freedom is crucial to serving real human progress, the archbishop said, drawing a distinction between it and “the half-starved copy of the real thing called ‘freedom of worship.’”

“We can never accept a separation of our religious faith and moral convictions from our public ministries or our political engagement. It’s impossible. And even trying to do so is evil because it forces us to live two different lives, worshiping God at home and in our churches; and worshiping the latest version of Caesar everywhere else.”

Sincere religious faith, Chaput said, fosters virtue and not conflict and is vital to advancing human dignity and building a humane society. But, he warned, “the creation myth” of the modern secular state is that religion is irrational, divisive, and violent.

“Secular, non-religious authority, on the other hand,” Chaput said, “is allegedly rational and unitive. Therefore, the job of secular authority is peacemaking; in other words, it must keep religious fanatics from killing each other and everybody else.”

“The problem with that line of thought is this: It’s simply an Enlightenment fantasy. Secular politics and ideologies have murdered and oppressed more people in the last 100 years—often in the name of ‘science’—than all religions together have managed to mistreat in the last millennium.”

The archbishop continued to argue that much of the current debate about “religious extremism and looming theocracy” is a push by a political elite to “get religion out of the way” as a secularist consensus is formed and imposed.

“God is a competitor in forming the public will, so God needs to go,” Chaput said.

“Any claim that atheists, agnostics and a secularized intelligentsia are naturally more ‘rational’ than religious believers is nonsense. We’re all believers. There are no unbelievers… atheists just worship a smaller and less forgiving god at a different altar.”

Chaput said that while the American political system has many strengths, there is “no automatic harmony” between Christian faith and democracy, which is not an end in itself and cannot determine either the good or the true.

Unmoored from the objective nature of truth and goodness, “like every other form of social organization, democracy can become a form of idolatry and a license for inhumanity,” he said. Ensuring it does not requires that Catholics make a much more robust and authentic Christian witness in public life, one which does not compromise for a broader acceptance.

Citing the example of Catholic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s recent embracing of federal abortion funding, Chaput noted that Catholic advances into the cultural and political mainstream of American life have done little to Christianize American culture, but have “done a great deal to bleach out the zeal and faith of everyday Catholics, and to weaken the power of any distinctive Catholic witness.”

“The right to pursue happiness, which is so central to the American experience, does not include a right to excuse or ignore evil in ourselves or anyone else. When we divorce our politics from a grounding in virtue and truth, we transform our country from a living moral organism into a kind of golem of legal machinery without a soul.”

Noting that Christians are often accused of waging a “culture war” on issues such as abortion, sexuality, marriage, and the family, Chaput said that the conflict is real and being fought equally hard on the other side.

“They too are ‘culture warriors,’” he said. “Neither they nor we should feel uneasy about it. Democracy thrives on the struggle of competing ideas. We steal from ourselves and from everyone else if we try to avoid that struggle.”

The archbishop described democracy as built upon the pillars of cooperation and conflict, and that both were needed to make society function.

“What that means for people of faith is this: We have a duty to treat all persons with charity and justice. We also have a duty to seek common ground where possible, but that’s never an excuse for compromising with grave evil.”

“To work as our country’s political life was intended, America needs a special kind of citizenry; we need a mature, well-informed electorate of persons able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently,” said Chaput.

“If that’s true—and it is—then the greatest danger to American liberty in our day is not religious extremism. It’s something very different. It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in dumbed down, bigoted news, vulgarity, distraction and noise, while methodically excluding God from the human imagination.”

“All of us who are people of faith need to re-examine the spirit that has ruled our approach to American life for the past many decades. In forming our pastors, teachers, and catechists—and especially the young people in our schools and religious education programs—we need to be much more penetrating and critical in our attitudes toward the culture around us.”

“Sooner or later,” he warned, “a nation based on a degraded notion of liberty, on license rather than real freedom—a nation of abortion, sexual confusion, consumer greed, and indifference to immigrants and the poor—will not be worthy of its founding ideals. And on that day, it will have no claim on virtuous hearts.”

In a clearly personal address, Chaput noted that he is shortly to turn 75 and would be obliged to submit his resignation to Pope Francis. “When I sat down to write these remarks, I did it knowing that this talk will probably be the last one I give as Archbishop of Philadelphia. So the words matter.”

“If we want a culture of religious freedom, we need to begin living that culture here, today, and now. We live it by giving ourselves wholeheartedly to God—by loving God with passion and joy, confidence and courage, and by holding nothing back. God will take care of the rest.”

EPISODE #181
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: LIVING OUT YOUR FAITH – A CONVERSATION WITH DON WAGNER, THE MAYOR OF IRVINE

On today’s installment, Deacon Steve welcomes Don Wagner to the program. He happens to be the mayor of Irvine, California.
Don shares the story of marrying his high school sweetheart, and raising his three children in southern California. He also talks about the process of integrating his Catholic faith into all aspects of life.. and that includes the political realm.
Listen in, and be sure to share this podcast with others!

Originally broadcast on 1/27/19

POPE FOCUSES ON ‘GOOD POLITICS’ FOR 2019 WORLD PEACE DAY MESSAGE

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The world will not have peace without people having mutual trust and respecting each other’s word, the Vatican said as it announced Pope Francis’ 2019 World Peace Day message would focus on “good politics.”

“Good politics is at the service of peace” will be the theme for the Jan. 1 commemoration and for the message Pope Francis will write for the occasion, said a Vatican communique published Nov. 6, the day midterm elections were being held in the United States to determine the political makeup of Congress for the next two years as well as a number of posts for state governors and city mayors.

The pope’s full message for World Peace Day, traditionally released by the Vatican in mid-December, is sent, through Vatican diplomats, to the leaders of nations around the world.

The Vatican said Pope Francis’ message will underline how political responsibility belongs to all citizens, especially those given the mandate “to protect and to govern.”

“This mission consists in safeguarding law and in encouraging dialogue among stakeholders in society, between generations and among cultures,” the Vatican said.

“There is no peace without mutual trust. And the first condition for trust is respecting one’s word,” it said.

Political involvement is one of the loftiest expressions of charity, it said, and it brings with it a concern for “the future of life and the planet, of the young and the least, in their thirst of fulfillment.”

When people’s rights are respected, then they will start to feel their own “duty to respect the rights of others,” the Vatican note said.

The rights and responsibilities of each person help foster people’s awareness of belonging to the same community with others and with God, it added.

“We are thus called to bring and proclaim peace as the good news of a future where every living being will be respected in its dignity and rights.”

CATHOLICS IN CONGRESS

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The numbers don’t lie. Once again, there are more Catholics in Congress than members of any other religious denomination. And the numbers stay strong term after term.

Even though Catholics account for only about 22 percent of the U.S. population — admittedly the largest body of religious belief in the country — they make up 31 percent of the House and the Senate.

If you’re looking for differences between the two major parties, there’s indeed some — but Catholics are still overrepresented in both the Democratic and Republican parties. There are 83 Catholics among the 234 Democrats in the House or Senate, good for 35 percent of the Democrats’ total, and 81 Catholics among the 301 Republicans in Congress, or 27 percent of the GOP’s total, according to figures issued in a Pew Research Center study issued shortly before the 114th Congress was sworn in Jan. 6.

What makes Catholics so eager to want to serve in electoral office, and what makes them so electable?

Daniel Philpott, director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, speculated there is a “strong tradition of social thought in the Catholic Church, more developed than in the mainline Protestant churches.”

Philpott pointed to the issuance of Pope Leo XII’s 1891 encyclical “Rerum Novarum” as the starting point “where the church decided to engage the modern nation-state.” Philpott said the Second Vatican Council also did much — even more than the election of John F. Kennedy as the first, and so far only, Catholic U.S. president — to advance the notion of politics as a noble vocation. Vatican II’s endorsements of religious freedom, human rights and democracy left an imprint in the minds of Catholic laity at that time.

Closer to home, “the American Catholic bishops have for decades touted and advocated social justice as part of the mission of the church, it may be in part because of the immigrant character of the church” that led bishops to go to bat on such issues as workers’ rights and welfare benefits,

Frank Orlando, a political science instructor at St. Leo University in Florida, told Catholic News Service that Catholics benefit from voters’ strong preference for their elected officials to profess religious faith. He cited a 2013 Pew study that showed that 53 percent of those responding said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who was an atheist. By the same token, according to Orlando, only 8 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate; that number more than doubles to 17 percent for evangelical candidates.

Pew statistics reveal that 20 percent of Americans now profess no religious belief or are atheists. But only one self-proclaimed atheist serves in the House, and she was only first elected in 2013.

The traditions of Catholic moral teaching and Catholic social teaching can appeal to Catholic office-seekers and voters across the political spectrum. “In a bad year for Catholic Democrats, they get replaced by Catholic Republicans,” Orlando said. “And in a bad year for Catholic Republicans, they get replaced by Catholic Democrats.”

Catholics have such appeal, Orlando added, that they can get elected in districts in the Deep South where the Catholic population registers in the single digits.

“John Calvin said the highest civil calling was good government,” said the Rev. Dale Kuehne, a political science professor at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. “It’s one of the highest civil goods you could have, and I believe that.”

Rev. Kuehne, ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church of America — “If there’s another minister with a degree in politics, I’d like to meet him,” he said — recalled when he taught political science for five years at a Baptist college in the Midwest. “The students would come to me and say how can we win and still be Christians,” he noted. “At St. Anselm, students would come up to me and say, ‘How can we win?’ It wasn’t that Catholic students were less committed to their faith. But there was a recognition that to get something done, you had to win.”

“I don’t’ think it’s unique to (people with) faith perspectives to want to make the world a better place. If you have a faith perspective, you should want that. I think a lot of people get into it for that reason,” Rev. Kuehne said. “I think some people lose their way.”

The Pew tally of Catholics in Congress included Rep. Michael Grimm, R-New York. who won re-election despite a 20-count federal indictment on charges of tax evasion, tax fraud and perjury. One week after he pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud and admitting to perjury, wire fraud and hiring undocumented immigrants in December, he said he would resign from Congress before the new Congress was sworn in. And, on the day the new Congress was seated, the former Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, a Catholic, was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty on 11 felony corruption charges.

“Original sin is an equal employer,” Philpott chuckled. “Nobody’s exempt from original sin.”