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Bishop Coyne's statement on the recent elections

It has been over a week now since the recent national, state, and municipal elections, a week which has allowed me, and I hope you, an opportunity for prayer and reflection on the outcomes. Out of this, I now write to the Catholic community of the Diocese of Burlington words of encouragement and challenge.

First, allow me to commend the citizens and candidates of the state of Vermont for the positive manner in which the state and local campaigns and elections were carried out. While there was some negative campaigning at times, the general overall tenor of the campaigns was respectful and civil.

However, as we all know, such was not the case nationally. This past presidential election was brutal, nasty, and angry. It has left our country divided and a lot less civil. Last Wednesday morning, I found myself thinking, “What just happened? How did we ever get to this point as fellow citizens of this great country?” Please know that I am not talking about the results of the election. I found both candidates to be an appalling choice. I am talking about the process and its aftermath.

We are now faced with a president entering office with a high “unfavorable” rating. This would have been the case for either candidate. Consider this statistic: 61% of those who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they didn’t like Mrs. Clinton while 61% of those who voted for Mrs. Clinton did so because they didn’t like Mr. Trump. That has never happened before. How does one govern and lead with that kind of a handicap going into office? And what does that do to our national psyche and our trust in government? There is more division, more anger, and more angst in our country then ever before.

That was where I found myself early last Wednesday. But later in the day I found a place of encouragement and solace in the first reading of the Mass of the day – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – in a vision of the prophet Ezekiel. An angel has brought Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem where he stands and sees water flowing from the gates of the temple, in all directions, bringing life, healing, and freshness to whatever the waters touch. This vision has been seen within the Church’s tradition as a vision of the Church herself from which the waters of baptism and the gift of salvation flow to all of creation.

I thought of how necessary this vision is now, both communally and personally. We as a Church, the Catholic community in Vermont, need to see ourselves as baptized people who seek to bring life and healing to all of creation. I thought of how I need to see myself as someone who brings “good news” to everyone I meet. I thought of the words from a well-known song, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” and how that needs to be my mantra.

Can we be a people who bring peace, not anger? Can we be a people who stand up for what is right while lifting up what is good? Can we be a people who talk “policies” and not “persons?” Can we be the salt, the leaven, the seeds of goodness in our culture? Can we be “living water” that flows out in words and gestures of healing and charity?

Yes, if we do so united in our faith, supporting each other in prayer and worship, and with the grace of God.

God bless America.



Bishop Christopher J. Coyne



[Statement originally published on Bishop Coyne's blog, Nov. 16, 2016: http://bishopcoyne.org/statement-on-the-recent-elections/.]
  • Published in Diocesan

Bishop Coyne's Statement on the Upcoming General Election

I write to you, my brothers and sisters, with words of encouragement as your bishop and fellow citizen of this great country.
 
My first encouragement is that each of us who can vote in this November’s election do so. Do not abdicate your right to vote. It is a privilege and a duty. I give thanks to God that my family and I live in the United States of America as free citizens who can exercise the right to vote without coercion or concern that our government or any agency would work to thwart either my right to vote or the intention of my vote.  With that in mind, we must exercise that right to vote and have our voices heard. This is especially true here in Vermont where many are standing for local and state offices, positions that often have a greater impact on our day to day lives than national offices.
 
Secondly, I ask that as people of faith we not leave that faith in Jesus Christ and in his Church at the door of the voting booth but allow that faith to inform the choices we make in that booth.  I encourage you to spend some time in prayer prior to voting, asking the Holy Spirit to infuse you with her guidance in making choices that are in keeping with our faith and the common good of all.  This is especially true in making choices that, as Cardinal Dolan of New York recently wrote, promote the dignity of the human person, as something “to be defended and promoted as a first priority, a dignity not dependent upon race, green card, stock portfolio, age, or health; [and] the sacredness of human life, from the instant of conception to the holy moment of natural passing, to be defended vigorously rather than diluted and then discarded.”
 
My final encouragement is to be people of “Good News,” doing and saying only the good things that men and women need to hear, things that will lift them up. There is already too much anger, vitriol, and incivility in our culture today. We do not need to add to it but instead apply a cure: kindness, charity, and mutual respect for each other as brothers and sisters created in the image of God.
 
May God bless America.




Bishop Christopher J. Coyne

 
[For those who are interested in further instruction and guidance from the Church on these matters, I direct you to the US Bishops’ teaching on “Faithful Citizenship” at www.faithfulcitizenship.org]
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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