This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2 -- St. Leodegarius

As an election draws close, contemplation of this saint brings me to thoughts of the proper distance between institutions of faith and governments. Clearly, the current Iranian model does not suit me. I accept the Vatican because it is not truly a nation; it is a four-block clubhouse into which no one is born. Britain still has an established church, but it often seems as irrelevant as its monarchy, and when it does speak up, it is sometimes silly and self-destructive. Israel is presently demanding to be recognized by the Palestinians "as a Jewish state," a demand that empowered extremists on both sides to block further peace negotiations once again.

St. Leodegarius was a good and productive servant of his faith. He fought the Manichean heresy, not with torture and execution, but with reason and oratory. He reformed the administration in his diocese and emphasized the importance of the sacraments. He may not have been a miracle worker, but he was a good bishop.

However, he became involved in the politics of dynastic succession. The Merovingians had become a self-serving, backstabbing pack of jackals, and Leodegarius' man Childeric II seems to have been no better than others. Yet the good bishop lent his support to Childeric, and when that bad King's abuses of power finally undid him, the bishop was exiled. Eventually he was brought back, but then he found himself in the midst of a war for succession. Captured, he was turned over to Ebroin, the man against whom he backed Clotaire. The good bishop was blinded, his lips were cut off, his tongue was pulled out, and he was imprisoned. A steady regimen of torture for two years crippled him before his death in 678.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Maine called for the defeat of the gay marriage law. I did not agree with him but I see that as being within his role. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used to organize civil rights and labor initiatives. Using a church to plan and support a strike seems more removed than an initiative, but the Protestant model is different: if his congregation did not support him, they would have fired him. Catholics have no such authority within their institution. They can, and do, just walk away instead.

The Gospel tells us to render unto Caesar. The older Scriptures tell us that wise magistrates are a blessing. Nowhere that I have read (correct me if I am wrong) does it call upon religious leaders -- priests or apostles -- to instruct the people in their selection of secular leader. I believe this is both intentional and wise. Religious leaders can and should raise questions of conscience about policy, but they should do so with the gravity and humility that befits their roles.

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