Monday, July 18, 2005

Serving two masters

Let me begin this post by admitting to our loyal readers my utter lack of attention to the affairs of both the world (political and sporting) and the Church in the last couple of weeks. As you can imagine, the days of my life have been consumed with moving and now with a very serious employment search. On a personal level, I trust the Lord completely that he will provide for all of our needs.

One very serious piece of ecclesiastical news came from this week's Catholic Telegraph. Apparently, Edward Cardinal Egan of New York has decided to implement what is called a "peculiar rule" of canon law, that is one that applies only to his jurisdiction, the Archdiocese of New York. He has decided that Pope John Paul II's 1980 ban on priests seeking public office or being openly involved in political parties will now extend to the deacons of New York as well. As with civil law, canon law (even law that is only local in scope) has a "grandfather clause," the Cardinal is allowing those deacons who are already serving in public office or in party political positions to finish their terms or continue in their party positions until they are replaced. However, in this case only one person, a local conservative Democrat, was grandfathered in. When I first read about Cardinal Egan's localized extension of the politics rule, I was concerned. After all, a lot of the deacons who would be affected by this are good men, committed to realizing the teachings of the Church in public life. What's more, unlike priests, who are expected to devote their entire lives and their public persons to the Church, deacons are fully expected to carry on a career, care for a family, and maintain a full life over and above their service to the Church. It might even be said that the life of a deacon outside of the Church is part of his ministry to the Church. And, I thought, if deacons are expected to carry on a secular life, what are these men devoted to public service supposed to do?

What astounded me though was the support of many of the deacons for Cardinal Egan's decision. One deacon, a county Republican Party Chairman, immediately resigned his post. He said "I cannot serve two masters. I would not be in a position as a deacon to uphold, without bias or prejudice, the teachings of the Church while I am in a partisan political position." He said he fully supported the Cardinal's decision.

It appears that we could all use a lesson in obedience from the deacons of New York.


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