Last month, Rep. Sean Duffy, who represents the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin, which covers most of the counties encompassing the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin, announced he was resigning his congressional seat to spend time with his family. The 47-year-old Catholic and his wife, Rachel, are expecting their ninth child in October, and they recently learned that the baby has a heart condition.
“I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now,” Duffy said in announcing his decision. “I have always been open to signs from God when it comes to balancing my desire to serve both my family and my country.”
Politicians are constantly criticized for making poor decisions, so when one lawmaker puts the welfare of his family before his elected duties, he should be commended.
Offering praise to public servants isn’t a common occurrence today, and perhaps deservedly so. But it is important to remember that politicians, just like you and me, are people prone to sin and in need of prayers.
This was a message preached by Pope Francis during Mass on Sept. 16. He said that politicians and others in positions of authority are subjects of insult. “Some deserve it,” he said. However, the criticisms have become a “rosary of insults and swear words.”
Quoting from the day’s first reading from 1 Timothy, who called for prayers “for all in authority,” Pope Francis asked, “Who among us has prayed for people in government?”
Politics, said Pope Francis, “may be dirty, just like any profession can be dirty. We are the ones who sully something, but it is not so by nature. I believe that we must convert our hearts and pray for politicians of all stripes, all of them.”
In our country, that means praying for politicians from both major political parties. As we know, their political stands do not always align with Catholic teachings that promote a consistent ethic of life. But that does not mean we should exclude one party’s political leaders from our prayers. In fact, it should be even more reason to ask God to bless and guide them.
Elected leaders are faced with tough decisions every day and they must balance their important work with family lives and grievances from constituents. When we remember their humanity, it can help us to see them as children of God in need of our prayers.
As our nation gears up for the 2020 election, let’s try to cut back on the “rosary of insults” we aim at our political leaders. This might mean cutting back on “sharing” or “liking” social media posts that attack or ridicule a politician.
Instead, we are called to take last Monday’s reading from 1 Timothy to heart: “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered … for kings and for all in authority.”
Here is one example offered by World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization based in Washington.
“Lord, thank you for leaders who care about issues impacting the most vulnerable. We ask that you help all leaders to care for people in need, especially children. Press on the hearts of constituents a desire and drive to reach out to their government leaders on issues surrounding global poverty, and soften leaders’ hearts toward these issues.”
Let’s begin by offering prayers for Rep. Duffy and his wife Rachel. May God be with them as they face the birth of their child in October, and may they have the strength to help them through all of the challenges that face them.