Understanding the Non-Negotiables in Politics

September 7, 2011 under Syllabus 2011-2012


Pope Benedict has stated that the Catholic Church’s principal focus in the public square is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and outlined three specific areas that are “non-negotiables”


In remarks to the European People’s Party on 30 March 2006, Pope Benedict XVI presented the following principles which he describes as “non-negotiable” for Catholic voters:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

· protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

· recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defense from attempts to make it juridical equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

· the protection of the right of parents to educate their children

The pope recognized that these principles “are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.” They are “addressed to all people,” regardless of religious affiliation.

“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce laws inspired by values grounded in human nature,” he said.

“These values are not negotiable,” he said in the new document.

The pope also said that local bishops in the United States have a responsibility to encourage local politicians to uphold pro-life values.

“Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,” he wrote in the document.

The bishops are also charged with the task of monitoring whether elected officials in their local churches shouldn’t be receiving communion because of a violation of the church’s pro-life teachings.

“There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist. Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,” the pope said.

Bible Readings

1. Deuteronomy 30 : 11-20

“For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.

Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1934

Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.

2. Paragraph 2270

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Small Group Questions

1. When evaluating politicians, how much do moral values really count?

2. Does a politician being Pro-Choice automatically eliminate them from consideration even though they maybe the best qualified?

Recommended Resources

1. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060330_eu-parliamentarians_en.html

2. http://www.lifenews.com/2007/03/13/int-211/


Tim Arnold & Trey Rouse

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