Whether it’s at the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or on Catholic radio or in the parking lot after daily Mass, faithful Catholics are still stunned at last Tuesday’s election results: Not only was the most ardently pro-abortion President in our nation’s history re-elected, but in four states voters chose to legalize gay marriage.
Where did we go wrong?
I think I have the answer: We’re paying the price for a lack of boldness that goes back at least three decades.
- Confronted with child abuse by some priests, our Bishops lacked the boldness to suspend these people from ministry, instead transferring them to new parishes where there was new youth to make victims.
- Faced with growing support for abortion, we all have lacked the boldness to rebut the pro-death arguments, choosing instead to remain silent except for a relative handful (roughly 500,000 nationwide) who took part in the annual March for Life, either in Washington or on the West Coast.
- We have failed to make the argument — even to our own parishoners — about the evil of contraception. I don’t mean the spiritual evil, but the physical evil: not 1 in 100 Catholics who attend Mass once a week knows the World Health Organization has labeled The Pill a class I carcinogen, right up there with tobacco and asbestos.
- We have lacked the courage to boldly challenge our government’s promotion of birth control pills. Our government has no problem blaming soft drinks and alcohol for obesity, or saying tobacco kills — but it keeps promoting The Pill, a known Class I carcinogen. And we are silent.
- We failed to challenge the advocates of the gay lifestyle, which is why gay marriage is well on its way to becoming the law of the land. (How this will happen: Some gay couple in Maryland, where gay marriage is legal, will move to Michigan where it’s not. The couple will be denied some state benefit, will appeal to the Federal courts which, citing the dormant Commerce Clause, will rule that all states must recognize the validity of gay marriages legally performed in other states.)
What are we to do?
First, it seems to me, is to get on our knees and pray for boldness. Pray that our bishops, priest and lay leaders may boldly proclaim the gospel in all its fullness, both in church and in our workplaces and social settings.
Pray that we laity have the courage to defend our bishops and priests when they are attacked and scorned for upholding a moral standard. Pray that we have the boldness to publicly stand with them.
Second, we have to learn the faith. Far too many of us know nothing more than what we learned in an eighth grade religion class, either in a parochial school or in CCD.
Third, we have to promote the faith among ourselves.
- Instead of closing Catholic schools, our bishops should be insisting that parishes that lack Catholic schools help cover the cost of running them to the point that tuition is virtually free.
- And we need to promote Catholic home schooling. The point is that if public schools are undermining the morals of our youth (and, sadly, in many places they are), we need to make it possible for no Catholic child to have to attend a public school that teaches bad morals.
Fourth, we have to pray that we, ourselves, get the boldness to defend our faith right where we are: In our workplace, in our social groups, etc. It is no longer adequate for a Catholic to be content to simply attend Mass, pray the Rosary, maybe do a Holy Hour. When our faith is challenged, we need to be willing and able to respond right on the spot.
Finally, we need to pray for the boldness to wear a crucifix, cross or religious medal whenever we are in public. A discreet, but visible, cross, crucifix or religious medal is a form of silent witness. Laura Ingraham does it, whether on tv or in her back yard. Why can’t the rest of us?
Silence is consent. Pray for boldness.