Monday, September 30, 2013

Are We Obsessed?


A few passages from Pope Francis’ famous interview published in America have unsettled some people for many reasons. My reason for being unsettled is that it would not be a complete distortion to say that I have been “obsessed” with the issues of abortion, contraception, and homosexuality for nearly all of my professional life. I prefer the terms “dedicated” or “committed,” of course, but whatever word is appropriate, I have long thought that helping people understand why abortion, contraception, and homosexual acts are not in accord with God’s plans for human happiness is a very effective way of drawing people closer to the Lord and to the Church, and thus, more or less, most of my adult life, I have been evangelizing in this way.

Enough about me. Let me talk about the legions of pro-lifers who run pregnancy help centers (which outnumber abortion clinics), of those who host pro-life websites and give pro-life talks, of those who try to get pro-life politicians elected, of those who do the hard work of trying to find jobs, housing, and other kinds of support for single mothers, of those who provide healing ministries to women who have had abortions, such as Rachel Weeping. Let me talk about teachers of Natural Family Planning and the Theology of the Body and abstinence educators. Let me talk about those who work for and promote Courage, a compassionate ministry to those who experience same sex attraction and about those who against strangely strong odds make the case against same sex “marriages.” Let me talk about those who use Facebook, blogs, and comments on blogs to try to dialogue with those who reject and even despise Church teaching and those who defend it.

I know these people and most of them radiate the love for Christ and the Church that the Holy Father desires. They sacrifice their time, talent, and energy because they love Christ and those who hate Christ and those who don’t know Christ. Undoubtedly some pro-lifers and some opponents of contraception and some who crusade against the widespread acceptance of homosexuality are angry people ready to condemn others as unredeemable sinners, but I suspect they are few and far between in the US at least. Although I have seen rare postings on the internet, written by putative Christians that are very unchristian, I have not met any such individuals in “real life.”

In fact, I don’t think the Holy Father was speaking about my friends, when he states:

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.

My friends definitely talk about these issues “in context,” in fact in many contexts. Again, their reason for boldly and sacrificially and ardently addressing these issues is precisely because they love Christ and the Church and want others to do so. They are trying to save people, to save them from ignorance about Church teaching, to save them from serious sin, to save them from missing out on the great joys of accepting Christ as their savior and the Church as their home. And—praise God—sometimes they succeed. In fact, my own reversion to the Church was greatly facilitated by an anti-Catholic professor who patiently argued with students that truth exists. It pained him that many of his students converted to Catholicism, once they came to accept that truth exists, and even moral truths that require most students to change their behavior radically.

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1 comment:

  1. I think many of the Catholic media types are sort of missing the point of what the Pope said. They all seem to be acting defensively instead of looking at what could be done better. The tone from Catholic radio is often in this line, it seems defensive and has an 'it's not fair' mentality. I understand this is hard to balance when you have real issues like the HHS mandate to talk about, but I've stopped listening because it doesn't lead me to love Christ more. It seems directed at creating a fear and distance from the world. Something we can not afford if we want to fearlessly engage those in the world. The beauty of what Pope Francis tells us is not that these issue aren't important, but that we sometime lose the forest for the trees. Something I see all the time in Catholic circles and especially in Catholic media. Yes priest's homilies aren't like that, but I don't think anyone thinks that is where it comes from. At least not in this country. I know a lot of loving people who give to the poor. I also know more who are so republican they think the poor only deserve what they have. Christianity means embracing the cross, not the thin clamoring for our rights and our rightness. I mean it's pretty obvious that we are failing at setting the world ablaze, instead of blaming the world for this, we ought to look at ourselves and how we fail in the real sacrifice of Christian sanctity and hope.