Friday, January 10, 2014


   Catholic public officials have the grace and responsibility to elevate their profession and the society they serve, and where necessary, to heal their profession and our society in order to make them more just, peaceful and loving--in short, more luminously human.

   Here in my state of New Jersey, two Catholic public servants, Bridget Anne Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Chris Christie, and Governor Christie himself, appear to have directly or indirectly lost their way and failed in their graced responsibility.  In an outrageous, small-minded political vendetta, Ms. Kelly ordered traffic restricted on the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York--the most heavily traveled bridge in the world.  For four days, people were late for work, school children were late for school, and emergency vehicles were hampered from arriving to help people in distress.  And since this bridge is a known terrorist target, this ridiculous action could possibly be considered a mini-terrorist attack.

   Governor Christie has denied any knowledge of this action and has fired Ms. Kelly--curiously, not for what she did but for lying to him when he asked her if she knew anything about it.  But everything happens in a context, and it is publicly known that Governor Christie has created a pugnacious culture in his administration.  Did this culture influence Ms. Kelly's action?    

   Both Kelly and Christie received a Catholic education:  Kelly from a Catholic university and Christie from a Catholic law school.  We should expect that a Catholic education helps form Catholics into spiritually mature persons who see beyond themselves and their own interests to the greater society that they serve in the grace of Christ.  If Catholic education doesn't do this, we must ask why not; if it does, we must ask what caused these two Catholics to fall from expressing spiritual maturity in their profession.

    One obvious answer to this latter question is the state of politics in today's culture.  What Pope Francis recently said about our country's corruption of capitalism, we can also say about our corruption of politics.  If our capitalism is corrupted by self-serving greed, so is our politics.  In fact, we have reduced both professions to themselves, i.e., "Business is business," and, "Politics is politics."  In such a self-imposed, closed-in context, there is no opportunity to see the bigger picture, to work for a greater community of justice, peace and love.

   Catholic morality tells us that the corruption of the highest ranked people is the greatest corruption.  Catholic spirituality tells us that our narrowing down of business and politics for their own sake is spiritual corruption.  Our faith is not some abstract idea that is floating in the air above our heads; it is an incarnate faith that take on flesh, e.g., in the form of our politics run by spiritually mature persons.  As Catholics we are graced and responsible to make our politics luminously human.  When we fail to do this, we lose our way and fail our community and our God.


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