Being a Catholic Legislator in Secular Times

Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski (D) spoke about the challenges of being a Catholic legislator in secular times, admitting that he is often swimming against the tide, even with respect to other, nominally Catholic, members of congress. Remaining optimistic, he and fellow Catholic lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Congressman Paul Ryan, get together for lunch on a regular basis to support each other in their quest to be “in the world, not of the world.” (Jn 15:19; Rom 12:2) and to determine how best to address pressing public issues like abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, healthcare, and religious liberty, especially in light of the push for ever-increasing government involvement in social justice issues. Citing one example among others, Lipinski remarked how the so-called “Nuns on the Bus” supported Obamacare out of a distorted idea of social justice, noting that zeal for government solutions to certain social ills usually results in severe injustice elsewhere, like restraints on religious freedom. He previously observed that religious freedom is not merely the freedom to worship as one wishes, but also to exercise one’s belief in the public square. Indeed, when the Hobby Lobby decision came out, he stated that “the ‘free exercise clause’ is not just freedom to worship, but freedom to exercise religious beliefs.” The soft-spoken Congressman, who has earned numerous academic degrees from prestigious schools, including a PhD from Duke University, has a solid pro-life voting record, opposes same sex marriage, did not endorse President Obama in 2012, and was the only Illinois Democrat to oppose the Affordable Care Act. The latter point begs the question about the platform of the Democrat party, but that is a topic for another time. Thank you Congressman for being a light in the darkness!