Speculation continues and grows as American Catholics anticipate the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States next month. Observers have all suggested topics that might be part of the papal exhortation list, now the suggestion is that he might make a commentary regarding the upcoming presidential elections in the United States. Some are even suggesting his visit will directly affect the outcome of the election as Catholic topics are highlighted during his American sojourn. The main message that Benedict XVI brings to the Church in the United States is nothing different from the message the Bishop of Rome has been spreading for centuries. Catholic teachings on morality, the right to life, social injustices, religious tolerance, and teachings on the value of a traditional family unit and so on are all part of the apostolic sound bytes. The fact that Benedict is coming to the United States during a political election year just adds more gravity to his message for American Catholics.

Benedict XVI clearly wants the Catholic Church in America to reawaken and restore its obedience to traditional Catholic morality and social teachings. If anyone thinks that Benedict will make a statement on the way American Catholics should vote in November is just a wildly unrealistic expectation. Popes and constitutional monarchs (like Queen Elizabeth) do not venture into the political depths and commit themselves to political parties. Popes speak objectively on topics and subjects that should already be on Catholic minds and consciences. Many issues affect American Catholics in their daily lives that deal with subjects of morality, global politics, bioethics and traditional Catholic values. Benedict XVI during his visit should just strongly remind Catholics of the true need to follow our Catholic religious beliefs and moral teachings when voting for our political candidates. However, no one should expect such an obvious statement from the Pope.

Benedict’s teachings and continued applications of Catholic social and moral issues might just have an effect on the United States political outcome in November. Thank God for such a dominant and clear voice regarding Catholic morality and beliefs. His actions and words are the real authority that seems to be lacking when it comes to a proper education of Catholic voters. Directions and teachings coming from Benedict XVI hold the weight and traditions of over 2000 years of Catholic teachings. In terms of a message for a relatively young American republic, Catholic voters in the United States should take his apostolic teachings very seriously when it comes to applying them to contemporary American moral and social issues.

As a Catholic, hopefully Benedict XVI will influence the outcome of the United States elections in a drastically positive manner. Perhaps the inclusion of Catholic traditions and principles of Catholic morality will make Americans both Catholic and non-Catholics realize our lives are subject to a higher Divine authority than secular politics. For years, the Church prayed for the conversion of the Soviet Union and a return to Christian faith. Maybe Benedict’s message will have the same effect in Election 2008 and return the United States to an acceptance of Christian moral, social and ethical principles envisioned by the Founding Fathers when they established this republic in 1776…”under God!”

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic topics and issues. He writes daily at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com

Comments are welcome at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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