Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry"

Today's print edition of the D&C features a locally edited column by Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. A longer and inexplicably chopped up version  is online.

Locally titled Organized Catholic left is pushing back hard, the column opens by mentioning that 54% of American Catholics voted for Barack Obama, despite his having been "assailed" as "anti-life" by many of their leaders.

It  then goes on to mention the almost certain failure of "Church leaders and traditional Catholic groups" to derail the appointment of pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius to the Obama administration, as well as the protests of "conservative Catholic bloggers and many prominent bishops" over Notre Dame's invitation to the President to deliver its commencement address.

Push back from "a well-organized Catholic left," including Catholics United (in the online version), is credited for the Sebelius failure and "considerable resistance from the rank and file" to the Notre Dame/Obama protests is also mentioned.

Catholics for Choice and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good also earn mentions for their opposition to the hierarchy, an opposition they claim is grounded in conscience (but which ignores the proper formation of conscience).

Near the end of the column Polman gives us this observation,

But what's most striking, in a new Gallup survey that looks at aggregated data from 2006 to 2008, is how the moral views of Catholics are pretty much the same as everybody else's — on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, you name it. In fact, far more Catholics (67 percent) than non-Catholics (57 percent) believe that sex outside of marriage is morally acceptable.

No wonder the church hierarchy's campaign against Sebelius has collapsed like a bad souffle.

This is really nothing more than the fruits of 40 years of abysmal catechesis overseen by the American hierarchy.  In their attempts to be more "pastoral" - to be "nice" - they lost sight of their primary responsibility. For far too many of them the words of Paul to Timothy were treated as a quaint relic from an earlier time and not as the Word of the Lord:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

When I was younger this seemed to be the approach taken by pretty much all our bishops, priests and Catholic educators.  We even had a Catholic bishop with his own prime-time TV program, a program that frequently had better ratings than the shows it was up against.

Fortunately - or rather, thanks to the Holy Spirit - this tide seems to be showing signs of turning.  Most of the recent appointees to American episcopal posts seem to be orthodox men who understand both the problem and their responsibilities. 

Things most likely will not change overnight and I don't believe we'll ever see another Bishop Sheen holding down a prime time slot, but we seem to be headed in the right direction.  It took 40 years of wandering in the wilderness for things to get this bad, so a slow trip back is to be expected.  But we do seem to be on our way.

9 comments:

CPT Tom said...

We are living in a dark time that I hope you are right is ending. This sad time needs to pass away. Though I fear it will tear the US part of the Church asunder.

LarryD said...

I don't know if the tide is turning; rather, the Holy Spirit is giving us stronger generals to lead the faithful into battle. It may get a lot worse before it gets better.

Be not afraid! A crown of glory awaits!

Mike said...

CPT Tom,

I'm not so sure about tearing "the US part of the Church asunder," although that could certainly happen in dioceses like DOR.

Our leadership has taken this diocese so far out into the doctrinal and liturgical wilderness that the trip back is certain to be painful for many who don't realize how quasi-Catholic they have become. Some, undoubtedly, will refuse to make the journey.

Others, I believe, can be led, but it is going to take a shepherd exceptional in his orthodoxy, his leadership skills and his holiness.

Such men exist. I pray that we get one of them.

Mike said...

LarryD,

It's hard for me to imagine our doctrinal and liturgical situation getting much worse.

What I can easily imagine is our aging Spirit of Vatican II crowd crying "foul" over any and every turn towards orthodoxy.

Things could get loud and even messy, but if we're going in the right direction it's hard to imagine worse.

Mary Kay said...

yes and no. You're right that there's light at the end of the tunnel. OTOH, as hard as it may be to imagine, I think it is indeed going to get worse before it gets better. But the Church has always survived and will do so this time also.

Dr. K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Mary Kay & Dr. K.,

I agree with your pessimism about the immediate future here in DOR.

My comments were in reference to that time in the future when we have a new bishop in place.

Dr. K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Dr. K.,

That's what I meant by, "What I can easily imagine is our aging Spirit of Vatican II crowd crying "foul" over any and every turn towards orthodoxy.

Things could get loud and even messy, but if we're going in the right direction it's hard to imagine worse.