Young Adults Tap into Faith and Politics
September 19, 2012 at 8:34 AM
Young adults tapped into “Faith and Politics,” which was the focal point of a Theology on Tap session sponsored by the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM) Sept. 17 at Starters Riverport, Bethlehem.
Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, left, makes a point as a presenter of the Theology on Tap session “Faith and Politics” Sept. 17 at Starters Riverport, Bethlehem, with fellow panelists Father Kevin Bobbin, center, and Attorney Matt Kloiber. (Photos by John Simitz)
“Our deepest political convictions have to be re-evaluated in light of the Gospel,” presenter Father Kevin Bobbin told the approximately 40 young adults gathered.
Theology on Tap, held in a restaurant/bar setting, is an invitation for young adults ages 21 to 35 to learn more about their faith and share in the Catholic community.
The panel discussion featured Attorney Matt Kloiber, a lawyer with Michael J. O’Connor and Associates; Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, an NFP-only OBGYN who has been practicing for 34 years in Langhorne, Archdiocese of Philadelphia and is a certified NFP (Natural Family Planning) instructor; and Father Bobbin, community organizer with the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities and Social Concerns and assistant pastor of St. Ambrose, Schuylkill Haven.
Young adults from across the diocese listen during the informative session.
Father Bobbin recalled the adage to avoid talking about religion and politics, but in an election season the discussion cannot be avoided. “We’re talking about our salvation and the common good of society. We have to bring the light of the Gospel into that part of our lives.”
Father Bobbin also highlighted the importance of conversion.
“It’s easier to move a mountain than change a deeply held political belief. But if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, the mountain will move. Faith is a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.
Father Bobbin spoke of Catholic Social Teaching, noting, “If we are truly followers of Christ, faith can’t just stay in our heads. We must help bring about justice for people in society. We have a moral obligation to work for the common good.”
He underscored the importance of working to change unjust laws, including legalized abortion. He cited separation of church and state as “a good thing in theory, but it has been perverted. Anything to do with religion is unwelcome in the public square.”
Father Bobbin emphasized not leaving your faith on the doorstep of the church on Sunday morning but to make sure Gospel values infuse your entire week.
“There’s a call for examination of conscience – is Christ the center of my life? There’s nothing wrong with being a Republican or Democrat, but neither is totally in line with what Christ teaches,” he said.
“We must sometimes depart that ideology to remain faithful to Christ,” he said, reminding the young adults to make good moral choices.
“When we vote for someone who supports something that is intrinsically evil, we are supporting that view … and will have to answer for it to our Lord,” Father Bobbin said. “Catholic Christians are called to faithful citizenship.”
Joining the young adults at the first table are, from left: Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization; Sue Matour, assistant coordinator of the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM); and Abbie Langsdorf, coordinator of OYYAM.
Speaking of access, the conscience issue and contraception, Ruppersberger said there was no problem with access to contraception, sterilization and most abortions prior to the HHS mandate and Affordable Care Act.
“None of these products prevent anything in women’s health care. Fertility is not a disease.”
Ruppersberger lamented that Catholic hospitals, universities and Catholic Charities would have to provide contraceptive services to employees, and emphasized the government’s “exception is no exception at all,” regarding insurance companies paying for the services.
“A health care provider always had the right to refuse to do something that was immoral, illegal or harmful,” he said addressing the conscience issue. “But conscience rights have been deteriorating.”
He said the Catholic Church has called contraception “intrinsically evil” since Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical “Humana Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) in 1968, and Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” has helped us understand why the church teaches what it does.
“I don’t want to see harm come to my patients,” Ruppersberger said, noting package inserts for hormonal contraceptives contain warnings about increased risks of breast cancer, cervical cancer, stroke and more.
“Look at what is truly authentic in health care,” he said, alluding to NFP, which teaches how to accurately identify the “fertility window,” which is one day in a 12-to-24-hour period after ovulation. “I’ll be committing a felony if I deny prescribing contraceptives. How much longer will I or other faith-based physicians be in practice?”
The right answer
Kloiber speaks to the approximately 40 young adults gathered.
Kloiber explained our country’s founding documents are premised on natural law and natural rights, such as life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and others. “God provides these rights. They are written in the hearts of each of us by God himself.”
“Founding father Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence, personified the rich history of Catholic Americans in applying faith and reason to stand up for those rights.”
“The constitution enumerates the powers the government has,” he said, adding if the government doesn’t follow the procedures in place, we must fight to correct it.
Kloiber said the founding fathers saw the importance of religion, adding, “We are a country based on Christian ideals.”
“For the first few hundred years of our existence religion played an important role in society. Democratic theory was based on moral truth,” Kloiber said.
But some Supreme Court cases in the 1940s and 1950s changed how religion was perceived. “Moral truth began to be looked at as something as fascist, a dictatorship. The constitution turned from freedom of religion to freedom from religion … the HHS mandate continues this.”
“We want to help people not because of their religion, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Kloiber said. “Religion has been marginalized over time and that’s not how it was ever intended to be.”
“John F. Kennedy said, ‘Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future,’” Kloiber said.