There have been some remarkable and inspiring recent statements on the subject of politics and faith that are important to bring to your attention. These statements are not only clear, but reflective of the type of leadership so badly needed in the Catholic Church today.
Milwaukee's Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote a remarkable rebuttal to a very arrogant anti-Catholic columnist, Brian Smith, whose articles appear in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The archbishop opened with these words:
Quite a while back, I concluded that it would be a full-time job trying to correct the misrepresentation of Catholic matters regularly showing up in the media and that, reluctantly, I would have to let most of it pass.
However, "Dead-end discussion" in the Sept. 21 Crossroads by Brian Smith demands a reply.
The hint of bishops "meddling" in politics always has been red meat in American history, from the notorious editorial cartoons of Thomas Nast in the Know-Nothing/Nativist era to those of Pat Oliphant today. So, Mr. Smith had our hackles up already as he opened his piece by referring to the recent corrective given by two American bishops to a couple of prominent politicians, both of whom happen to be Catholic, on the issue of abortion."
Archbishop Dolan proceeds to explain who started the "rhubarb" and then extends to the readers a concise, clear picture of Catholic teaching. His exposition reveals not only what the teachings are but why acting against them is a grave sin for a Catholic. But perhaps his most stunning comment comes near the end of his rebuttal, when he tells the readers of this secular newspaper that Smith is dead wrong by
implying that bishops are out of bounds in clarifying the truth of their faith on this issue and that the powerful arguments of the growing pro-life movement hinder helpful conversation and lead to a political dead end. We cannot be mute on this premier civil rights issue of our day.
It is such a breath of fresh air to read the words of a Catholic archbishop who is clearly not cowed into silence by the oppressive, jaded attitude of the media. God bless him!
It is equally heartening to know that Catholics in the Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese will hear a pastoral letter from Bishop Joseph F. Martino, who as you may recall, when asked by the media if Communion would be refused to pro-abortion Democrat Joseph Biden, valiantly replied, "No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion. I will be truly vigilant on this point."
Bishop Martino's letter to his flock, which his priests are required to read at all Masses and distribute to all parishioners, is inspiring. In the letter, he shares the history preceding the current confusion apparently reigning supreme among so many Catholics. He provides insight into the warning contained in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, and he exposes the nightmare created by the contemporary media's misinformation on Catholic matters.
Bishop Martino points out,
Never have we seen such abusive criticism directed toward those who believe that life begins at conception and ends at death.
As Catholics, we should not be surprised by these developments. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills. (emphasis added)
He reminds the faithful,
While the Church assists the State in the promotion of a just society, its primary concern is to assist men and women in achieving salvation. For this reason, it is incumbent upon bishops to correct Catholics who are in error regarding these matters. Furthermore, public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject. (emphasis added)
He beseeches the faithful,
My dear friends, I beg you not to be misled by confusion and lies. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, does not ask us to follow him to Calvary only for us to be afraid of contradicting a few bystanders along the way. He does not ask us to take up his Cross only to have us leave it at the voting booth door.
The people of the Diocese of Scranton are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear the truth without apology from their bishop, who has a sincere desire to save souls, not win a popularity contest.
It is always a privilege to share uplifting commentary with those who read this column. In addition, it is a blessing to recognize the courage of Catholic leaders who have ordered their priorities according to a heavenly perspective. Praise God for them!