View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bishop Hermann does not mince words

In a column in the St. Louis Review, Bishop Robert Hermann, Archdiocesan Administrator of St. Louis, has a blunt message for Catholics officials who support abortion (for example Biden, Pelosi, Kennedy, Gillibrand, etc.) and Catholics who voted for Obama.

In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.

Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!

Whew. Bailing on their faith! No mealy-mouth pronouncement there.

He said we should congratulate Obama for his win, but not for "but we cannot condone his pro-death policies ...."

He cites Obama's idiotic "above my pay grade" comment, and the lovely one in which he said he would not want one of this daughters "punished with a baby."

But then he goes on to note: If at this stage our anger is directed at President Obama, our anger is misdirected. Obama is not the enemy. He needs and deserves our prayers, not our condemnation.

As Catholics, we are not guiltless. It seems to me that when President Kennedy compromised Catholic teachings and accommodated political pressures in order to be elected to the highest office in the land, he set the tone for many Catholic leaders to follow and to compromise their Catholic principles to get ahead.

How many of even local Catholic politicians have compromised their beliefs with hopes of higher office? Our new Catholic Senator in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, is pro-choice - and considered by New York Democratic Party standards a moderate or even a conservative!

After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts. In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.

This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.

Amen to that.

We have to live our lives in such a way that we will be unafraid to witness to what we believe and live.

I may courageously say that I am willing to die to end abortion, but am I equally willing to say that I am ready to let my ego get ruffled daily for the same cause? Yet … that is where I need to arrive if I am to be a credible witness.

That means, of course, that we also have to be willing to take criticisms from fellow Catholics for talking to much about life issues, for being sometimes blunt in our pronouncements.

What a glorious opportunity we all have to make a difference in the pro-life cause. Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living.

It does not take 100 percent of our Catholics to transform this country. If 75 percent of our Catholics were steeped in Catholic identity, the abortion issue would be over for our entire country.

I absolutely agree. Even just at election time, politicians would have to think twice about switching sides or watering down their positions for political gain. Of course, that would also mean that some would vote pro-life not because they believed in it, but because they want to win. But if it saves lives, I'll take it.

... I do not want us to fall into Satan's trap of getting us to hate President Obama or any of the pro-choice Catholic legislators in Congress. Being pro-life means that we engage far more in spiritual warfare than in political warfare.

I know I fall short here. It's so easy to get caught up in it. That's why prayer is so important.

President Obama, pro-choice legislators and Planned Parenthood are not our enemies. Our enemies are the invisible forces masked behind these people. Most of them do not have a clue that they are being deceived by our common enemy, the devil. They are used by our common enemy, Satan, and his evil forces, to get us to hate so that we, too, will end up in a culture of death.

... We owe all of them prayers and fasting for their conversion. At one point, Gov. Reagan was California's very pro-abortion governor. Yet he became a very pro-life president. He repented and regretted the evil he supported.

We must bravely witness against supporting pro-choice and pro-abortion candidates in political elections, but pray daily for their conversion.

(It's nice to see someone else have two categories - pro-choice and pro-abortion! And to call for their conversion. I've been chided for saying that. )

In his piece, he calls for the restoration of Catholic Culture - something I have been saying, too. It should go beyond politics and abortion to what we read, what we watch, what we listen to, the daily decisions we make, how we treat others and the environment, and so much more.

Powerful column by Bishop Hermann. You can see the full text here.

Gee, wouldn't it be great to have a few bishops like him in New York?


Anonymous Todd said...

No, it wouldn't.

Politics is the realm of the laity, and bishops pontificating on things they seem to show a weak grasp of isn't terribly helpful to the pro-life effort.

Maybe if the pro-life movement hadn't been so attached to the Republican Party, or if those who had been or are were more vocal about the "culture of death" from the conservative side, all politicians would be a little more responsive to life justice.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Politics is the realm of the laity, true, but morality and Church teachings are th realm of bishops. The laity near clear pronouncements about teachings - and about the moral consequences of not following those teachings.

I agree, the pro-life movement should not be as attacked t the Republican Party as it has been. And I certainly disagree with it on some life issues, such as the death penalty.

On the other hand, having attempted to create a New York chapter of Democrats for Life, one of the problems is that even when we tried to reach out to the Donkey gang they used us, then ignored us. At least a few of the Elephant herd tried to be welcoming.

In terms of Bishop Hermann, maybe if there were a few more outspoken bishops they might inspire people to act and to live out ther faith. Yes, they might also drive some people to question whether they are still Catholic, but that might not be a bad thing if they do so honestly.

I think a lot of Catholics need to challenges to look at themsleves and how their faith influences - or fails to influence - their lives. I know I need to be reminded regularly.

5:22 PM  
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