Pew Survey, Father Pfleger and the USCCB

June 25, 2008 09:00 AM
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released its new findings on Americans and their attitudes toward religion, God and doctrine. It is not too surprising that most of those surveyed are suffering from a bit of confusion when it comes to the difference between faith in God and claiming to be somehow associated with religion.

What moved me the most about this survey was, sadly, the conundrum we face in the Catholic Church, which is actually a very good example of why the results from the Pew survey are not at all extraordinary. They may be sad, but are certainly not unexpected.

I think the best way to explain what I am trying to tell you is to quote from a recent e-mail I received from a very confused lady who happens to be a former Catholic. She wrote the following:
I am quite confused and dismayed – I have written Cardinal George – but of course got no reply! I was always taught as a Catholic that if you believed in abortion you would not be allowed Holy Communion – and that you could not support a political candidate that supports and believes in abortion – especially partial birth abortion.
So please answer me as to why a Catholic priest, Father Pfleger, is allowed to stand on the altar of God acting as Jesus and preside over Mass – how does this priest receive Holy Communion? I still want an answer regarding Fr. Pfleger! I have stopped going to church because I don't believe in our priests anymore – some are no holier than you or me!

My astonishment upon reading this was tempered by the crisis I could see and the frustration I could feel in this dear woman's words. She probably represents more Catholics than I can imagine, and her concerns and the reasons that drove her away from the Church are representative of the malaise that has affected the entire nation.

It has clearly come to pass that most people who identify themselves as religious are people who have decided that one can claim to be aligned with religion without ever attempting to live a Christian life – that is, one that is based on Christ's teachings and God's laws. If this were not the case, we would not have seen such a wide array of attitudes in this survey that, for the most part, reflect the "broadmindedness" and compromise that have become the status quo.

The day after the Pew survey results were made public, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its own statement, which contained a quote that left me incredulous! The claim is made that "the steady and ongoing response of the Church is an ever renewed commitment to robust catechetical efforts."

I find that to be the farthest thing from the truth that anyone could imagine. If it were true that the Catholic Conference of Bishops has been pursuing "robust catechetical efforts," we would not have ladies, such as the one who e-mailed me, driven away from the Church because of the scandalous, unchecked behavior of someone like Father Michael Pfleger!

Nor would we have Catholics who, according to the Pew survey, are split on abortion. Don't forget that the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is an act of murder, an act that is never justified for any reason. And yet according to that survey, 48 percent of Catholics say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 45 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases. It seems to me that the gospels of tolerance, diversity and equivocation have been spread much more effectively than the preaching and teaching of the Gospel of life that should have been taking place.

As I said on the day Pew issued its results, "The real enemy to the preborn, to our culture, to our nation, is the moral relativism that has our world, literally, in a death grip. That same mentality blurs the line between right and wrong and has opened the door for abortion."

The prevalence of such "relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards," according to Pope Benedict XVI . I would have to agree with him. Clearly, America needs a reality check.

According to one man who claims to be a humanist, "God is a symbol that everybody can relate to. They look to it as a visual thing. But, actually, God is inside of them." It seems to me, upon reading the survey results, that this man's concept of God is held by more than a few of those who would not describe themselves as humanists but whose attitude toward God is equally as nebulous.

It is clear that Americans are at a crossroads today and that true faith in God and His existence is in crisis. The question is, what can one person do about it?

If it were up to me, I would beg every single person, Catholic, Protestant and Jew, who has a deep and abiding faith in God, to study the results of this survey. I would ask them to make a conscious decision to reach out to others, helping them to understand what it truly means to love God and to be aware of His love for us. Each of us has a sphere of influence and each of us can have an effect on those around us if only we are willing to reflect Christ and His goodness in our words, actions and very lives.

Our nation is in need of a revival, and it can and will occur when each of us who knows and loves the truth is willing to spread it far and wide.
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