The good guys do exist: Catholic senators serving our state

Therese Bussen

The good guys don’t make the headlines very often. So here’s a friendly reminder that, in the political world, they do still exist.

Senators Kevin Priola and Jack Tate are both Catholic family men who were concerned about their community and decided to take action. And most importantly, their faith remains central to their lives and informs their service to the state.31`

This is the first of what we hope will be many profiles of Catholic legislators serving in the State Legislature. To start, here are two of your senators and their most important issues – you might be able to say hello if they go to your parish.

Kevin Priola – Republican, Senate District 25

kevinpriolaSenator Kevin Priola grew up a Colorado native and

attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, graduating with a business degree.

Priola got involved in politics because of his concern for
the state, especially after having children, and the environment they would grow up in, he said.

But his faith is most important.

“I try to live my life informed by my faith and let my faith direct decisions I make serving,” Priola said.

Priola is especially passionate about green industry issues at the Capitol, opposes new taxes and fee increases and believes in the importance of private property rights, especially small businesses. Other issues listed on his website include quality education standards, keeping sexual predators safe from families and reducing traffic congestion with transportation solutions. He also believes in the commitment to the protection of human dignity, beginning at conception and ending at natural death.

He and his wife, Michele, a fifth grade teacher, have four children and live in Adams County. On their days off, they enjoy hiking, camping or skiing. They attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn.

For more information, visit his website, http://kevinpriola.com.

Jack Tate – Republican, Senate District 27

Jack TateOriginally from Nashville, Tenn., Senator Jack Tate has been a resident of Colorado for 18 years. He received an engineering degree from Duke University and graduate degrees from the University of Colorado Denver in finance and marketing. He also completed graduate work in political science and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Important issues include creating jobs, attending school needs, fixing problems with rising housing costs, energy efficiency, constitutional rights and attending to fixing the healthcare system.

“I am not the guy with all the answers,” Tate says on his website. “Instead, I’m the guy who can listen, understand and work hard to discover those answers and solve problems…We must seek thoughtful solutions as opposed to making ‘pie in the sky’ promises. We should ask that of all politicians.”

Tate and his wife Kathleen, a physician and surgeon in private practice, attend Our Lady of Loreto Parish with their three children and his interests include youth soccer and basketball, literary interpretation, Colorado railroad history, skiing, tennis, golf and fishing.

For more information, visit his website, http://jacktate.org.

Get to know your state legislature leadership

As the Colorado state legislative session opens, it’s good to know who some of the key players are. Just as knowing your local mayor and state governor is important, it’s good to know who’s who in the Colorado House and Senate. It’s also worth noting that the House of Representatives is a Democrat majority, while the Senate is a Republican majority.

House Majority: Democrats by nine seats
65 seats – 37 Democrat, 28 Republican

KC BeckerHouse Democrat leader – KC Becker (D)

District 13
Counties: Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson
Issues: Poverty, Forest Health, Public Health, Energy and the Environment, Death Penalty

Patrick Neville picHouse Republican leader – Patrick Neville (R)

District 45
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Traditional Family Values, Religious Liberty, Education, Right to Work, Health Care, Illegal Immigration, Energy

Senate Majority: Republicans by one seat
35 seats – 18 Republican, 17 Democrat

S-Holbert, ChrisSenate Republican leader – Chris Holbert (R)

District 30
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Environment, Education

Lucia GuzmanSenate Democrat leader – Lucia Guzman (D)

District 34
Counties: Denver
Issues: Education, Energy, Agriculture, Human Rights

COMING UP: 500 years later, who was Luther?

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Hero, villain, heretic, saint, reformer, corrupter, man of integrity, bombastic glutton. Which image of Luther should we believe? Because Luther primarily sought not to reform abuses in the Church but to reform the Church’s beliefs, Catholics cannot recognize him as a true reformer or a holy man. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that Luther played a major role in shaping the modern world. With the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant movement he initiated approaching on October 31st, we have been given a number of new books to assess his legacy.

Paul Hacker, Luther’s Faith: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion, preface by Pope Benedict XVI (Emmaus, 2017).

Hacker’s book provides an in-depth, theological analysis of the issue that stands at the heart of the Reformation: Luther’s teaching on salvation by faith alone. Pope Benedict’s preface tells us that the Reformation dispute fundamentally concerned Luther’s “turning away from the center of the Gospel” (xxii). Emmaus released a new edition of Hacker’s book for the anniversary this year. It was published originally in 1970 (in English translation), the fruit of Hacker’s own intense study of Luther’s teaching on faith that led him into the Catholic Church from German Lutheranism.

Catholics agree with Protestants that salvation comes only through faith. The key issue of dispute, which Hacker reveals, is Luther’s subjective emphasis of absolute, personal certainty, which cannot be undermined even by serious sin. Hacker describes Luther’s faith as reflexive, that is turned back on oneself, by emphasizing subjective experience and personal surety more than anything else. He describes how Luther differs from the Catholic position: “Faith is the way to, or the perquisite of, salvation, but Luther makes it coincide with salvation itself. This becomes possible because he has first identified salvation with the consciousness of being saved or the certitude of salvation, and then he equates this consciousness with faith” (71). Hacker shows us how this view of faith negated the Church’s authority, the sacraments, and even the need to love God.

Brad Gregory, Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts that Continue to Shape Our World (HarperOne, 2017).

For those looking for a more general and accessible book, Brad Gregory gives us a broader narrative of how Luther’s troubled conscience exploded into the crisis that tore Christendom in two. The first section looks at Luther’s own story, tracing step by step his conflict with Church authority. The second section explains how Luther’s teaching spawned a multitude of new sects and divisions, all interpreting the Bible in their own fashion. Greggory explains: “What the early Reformation shows so clearly is that scripture and the Spirt can be interpreted and applied in radically divergent ways. Once the papacy and the Catholic Church are thrown off, there are no shared authorities to adjudicate disagreements” (137). The final section looks at how the Reformation set the tone for the development of a secular culture. Though not intending these consequences, Gregory argues that the Protestant Reformers “led indirectly to a profound diminishing of Christianity’s public influence in Western societies. The religious disagreements and conflicts that followed the Reformation set the stage for religion’s eventual separation from the rest of life” (2).

Eric Metaxas, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Viking, 2017).

Metaxas, who wrote a monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, provides us with a different perspective on Luther. His book seems poised to capture the largest audience for the anniversary this year. While I can’t agree with his view of Luther as a hero of faith, I can appreciate his presentation of a more sympathetic and thorough look at a man who has inspired many Protestant Christians. It is helpful to recognize why Luther is such an important figure for so many people. This book definitely provides many more details on the life of Luther (with over 450 pages). However, I would exercise caution, because it unfortunately also contains many gross misrepresentations of the state of the Church at the time of the Reformation.

For instance, even though Metaxas shows us many ways that Luther encountered the Bible in his early life, he still claims that the Bible and Church had no connection in the early 1500s and that “the study of the Bible per se was simply unheard of” (52). Luther himself was a theology professor and throughout the Middle Ages the Bible was the primary text for teaching theology. Brad Gregory makes clear in his book on Luther that there were even “twenty-two editions of the complete vernacular Bible . . . published in German . . . by 1518” (29). Metaxas presents a false picture of Catholics as ignorant, afraid to pray to Christ, and thinking they must earn their salvation through works. Good historical research could easily dispel these myths, such as the books of Eamon Duffy, but we see Protestants continue to project Luther’s own scruples (hating God and spending six hours in Confession, 47) onto the Church of his time.

Jerome K. Williams, True Reformers: Saints of the Catholic Reformation (Augustine Institute, 2017).

What could have Luther been if he had chosen faithful reform? The answer is a saint. There is no doubt that the Church was in need of serious reform in the 1500s. We have a number of great saints who show us that fidelity to God does not contradict fidelity to His Church. They stood against corruption and initiated deep and abiding reform. The Augustine Institute has release both a book and video series on true reformers, who boldly spoke out against abuses and led to a deeper realization of the truth found in the Bible, read in harmony with the Church. These figures—Teresa of Avila, Thomas More, Ignatius of Loyola, and Charles Borromeo, for instance—continue to inspire us to take up the task of genuine reform today.