5 Major Conflicts Facing Catholics

Msgr. Charles Pope
Msgr. Charles Pope


Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington:  My remarks will be brief, since this is not a political blog, and I am not a political prognosticator. The American people and process have spoken. But a few remarks based on the election results, things I think of as undeniable facts for the Church, though you are free to offer any rebuttals.

1. The strained relationship between the Catholic Church in the Democratic party will continue and the strain will likely grow. The reasons for this are that the Democratic Party is increasingly aligning itself with positions that are in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. More of this in the following points.

2. Largely unrestricted abortion will continue unabated, as will funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the chief provider of abortion in this country. Possible Supreme Court nominations will also feature pro-choice jurists. Likewise many Circuit and other Federal District Court judges will continue to be appointed who favor largely unrestricted abortion.

3. The homosexual agenda will continue to grow and receive increasing legal recognition and protection. This includes not only gay “marriage” but also, other issues in the Gay agenda such as adoption, and the general insistence that the Gay lifestyle be promoted in schools and other public settings. This will require Church opposition and generally embroil us in many public disputes. This may have continued even with a Romney win, but there will be fewer political hurdles for such agendas and the pace will be quicker.

4. The HHS mandate moves forward, untouched. Our religious liberty is in greater jeopardy. We’ll have to meet the administration in court. And while the legal basis for our grievance seems strong, recent experience in the courts has demonstrated that nothing is certain. Civil disobedience may be in our future.

5. Extreme debt seems likely to pile up. Well this may not be a specific issue the Catholic Church has spoken to, it remains a fact that we spend money we do not have, and this has moral implications. Little change in a very divided Congress, means there will be likely little progress in arresting a runaway debt. This will become an increasing moral problem that the Church will likely have to address at some level. This too draws us into the morass of debates about spending priorities etc. and may divide us as a Church between fiscal conservatives and those who emphasize the Social Doctrine.

Thus, the next years ahead, will likely draw the Church into increasing conflict with the political scene in general, and the Democratic Party specifically.

And while it is not the instinct to the Church to be drawn into one side of the political debate, moral issues are increasingly demanding from us an unambiguous stance, one which draws us into increasing conflict with the Democratic Party on issues which we consider non-negotiable. At the same time, issues that we may share with the Democratic Party, are less doctrinal or certain for us. We face difficult days ahead, and difficult decisions about strategy and how to engage a party in power that is increasingly at odds with our most central tenants.

The Central question for us is, How will the Church be able to articulate her positions, increasingly at odds with the platform of the Democratic party and be able to resist the (unfair) charge that we are merely the Republican Party at prayer. There are difficult days ahead for the Church.

Let us pray for great courage and prudence.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Thank you for a very lucid and sobering analysis.
    I agree that the pressing problem is “how the Church should articulate her positions” on these issues.
    First remark: The Church has made central to her position that it was a matter of freedom, namely freedom of religion. And the Diocese of Washington made a great project with the “Fortnight of Liberty” with a meeting at GW University, live presentation of especially well done video recounting the history of the US and its experience with freedom of religion, songs, prayers under the leadership of Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.
    That was before the elections. And it appears – as revealed by polls – that most people who are not very religious had, as an attitude, “that does not concern me… it might be very important in the history and character of America but I do not care especially for freedom of religion and I do not want those who are religiously inclined to have such freedom either.”
    I really believe that noble effort to conjure the matter of America’s values based on the freedom of religion didn’t work. Naturally, purely religious arguments would have worked even less. To tell the Obama organization, “it is God’s will that abortion, homesexuality etc must not be condoned” would not have worked at all with these people.
    Second Remark: I have studied Alinsky (the guru of leftist radicals who dedicated his book “Rules for Radicals” to Lucifer… the first radical!!) and am convinced that the underlying approach to his rules is a “Psychology of the Ridicule”…
    Radicals are not motivated themselves – nor seek to motivate others – with logical and charitable arguments (“adult arguments” we should say?). Theirs is a discourse based on arguments framed with high emotion and vindictiveness against those who do not share from their own worldview and do not agree to have them obtain all their demands (“childish arguments”).
    The Rules for Radicals is all about screaming that the non-radicals are out of touch with common values, that they should be shunned, that they should not prevail, that their values are all wrong.
    We, with the Church, should turn this approach on the head but only as concerns the values..but conserve the meaning of the approach.
    We should shout that radicals are ridiculous, that their values are not shared by the majority, that they should be shunned, that they should not prevail and that their values are all wrong.
    Now the Church has not adopted this tone and maybe it is not proper for the Church’s highest representatives to be be shrill but somebody else in the Church should scream bloody murder! That’s what prophets do!
    Third Remark: for the content of this approach… a purely religious approach does not work with arreligious people… Religious freedom could have worked but didn’t.
    I propose another approach:…. the Church is the last bastion of defense for the human spirit. We believe that God gave Free Will to Man…because we have a religion of love and love cannot be commanded. Only a religion of love, only a vision of man with the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and practical faculty to have all the freedom necessary to function is promoted by the Catholic Church.
    Radicals are against love, … they believe in the power of envy, of vengeance. They do not believe in the power of freedom… they want everyone to believe that their cause is just and all who do not believe that is their enemies.
    They do not believe in the powers of Man: abnegation, sacrifice, industriousness, innovation, inventiveness, resourcefulness, initiative, courage, generosity. All those qualities and more make people happy when they try to improve themselves growing in these virtues. All those qualities are those who make cities and civilizations grow and prosper.
    Radicals wouldn’t understand. They are not Christians. They are not Catholics. They do not belong to our culture.

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