Some Thoughts on Words and Their Meanings, by Francis X. Maier

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By Francis X. Maier, The Catholic Thing, Feb. 4, 2021

Francis X. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and senior research associate at the University of Notre Dame.

Note: A few readers wrote yesterday to alert us that, when they opened the full column by Fr. Pokorsky, their anti-virus programs popped up to say that The Catholic Thing is a “dangerous” site. So far as we know, everyone was still able to view the posting. But if you had a similar experience, we’d like to hear from you. – Robert Royal


Francis X. MaierMartin Luther liked to say, “Don’t lie when you pray.”  It’s one of my favorite lines.  I don’t know if he really said it or not, because I got it off the Internet more than a decade ago.  But if he didn’t say it, he should have, because it’s true.

Don’t lie when you pray.  It’s a line worth considering in an era of ambiguously Catholic public officials.  When we really believe what we claim to believe, we conform our hearts, our minds, our choices, and our actions – both in private and in public – to the convictions we claim to hold.  Otherwise, we’re liars.

There are dozens of political and cultural issues, for example, on which faithful Catholics can legitimately disagree.  But there are some issues where, if we want to be true to our faith, there’s very little wiggle room.  Talking about human rights and dignity is a vital part of our political discourse.  But it’s little more than empty piety if the foundational human right – the right to life – is compromised, or worse, actively repudiated by “sacramentalizing” the violence of abortion.  Which is exactly what our nation, and evidently our current Catholic president, now do.  …