Vox Populi, Vox Dei

That Latin phrase in our headline — The Voice of the People is the Voice of God — is very useful for all politicians to remember, especially those who lose elections.

It’s also a phrase which serious Catholics might want to remember in the wake of the re-election of the most ardently pro-abortion, Church-restricting President in our nation’s history.

The question, of course, is what is God trying to say in yesterday’s election results.  Is He saying that abortion is just fine and dandy?  That it’s okay for government to trample on our practice of our Catholic faith?

Or did God just give us and our Bishops a two-by-four whack across the head, telling us that we need to get back to basics:  We need to use every opportunity to explain our faith, first to our own people and second to Americans at large?

I think it’s the second.  And we plainly have work to do.

For example, gay marriage legislation passed in a handful of states, including those that are heavily Catholic.  I suspect that if we asked 100 Catholics why the church opposed it, most would say it’s because the Church is anti-gay.

That isn’t the right answer, of course.  The church isn’t anti-gay; gays are made in the image and likeness of God, just like the rest of us.  The church opposes gay marriage legislation because the purpose of marriage, as set forth in Genesis, is procreation:  “Go forth and multiply and subdue the earth.”  By definition, two men or two women cannot conceive and produce another human being.

Doesn’t the church oppose gay sex?  Yes, but it also opposes any sex outside of marriage. Not only does sex outside marriage go against God’s word, but it’s unhealthy.  Sex outside of marriage — whether by straight or gay couples — vastly increases the risk of contracting a serious sexually transmitted disease.

We need to say this in our pulpits.  And we need to say this in general media — even if we have to buy airtime or space to do so.

It’s a scandal when “Catholic” cabinet secretaries and congressmen promote actions directly contrary to church teaching.  But the bigger scandal is that we allow them, intentionally or not, to paint the church as bigoted, as being run by a bunch of old men with pointed hats in Rome whose sole goal in life is to ruin everybody’s fun.

Catholic media do a pretty good job of explaining Catholic teaching.  But Catholic media basically talks to Catholics, not to the world at large.  The Church needs to show people who aren’t Catholic, who may not even believe there is a God, that its moral teachings aren’t just something for believers, but actually can help keep non-believers healthy.

In evangelization, we need to meet people where they are.  Most Americans don’t read Catholic magazines, newspapers or listen to or watch Catholic radio or TV.  So we need to take our message to secular media.  If we use secular media to reach nonbelievers, we’ll also reach nominal Catholics, as Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen showed.

That, I think is what God was trying to tell his Church in yesterday’s vote.


About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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