Friday, August 18, 2006

On being Catholic

I had the opportunity yesterday to see the tail-end of EWTN's 25th anniversary special on the internet. I have to admit to being especially inspired by the work of the nuns and Franciscan Brothers at the "Global Catholic Network." We are living in a time when not only does lukewarmth in matters of faith prevail as the daily norm for Christians of all backgrounds, but Catholicism is often mistaken viewed by non-Catholics as a faith that embraces liberalism. Mother Angelica set out to show the South, the rest of America, and the whole world that authentic Catholicism is not only not some creature of the Left, it is (by modern standards) "conservative" enough to put the most hardshell of hardshell Calvinists to shame, especially on issues such as the issue of the protection of human life-you simply can't get any more pro-life than the authentic Catholic position.

That said, it is a valid criticism that some raise which points out that the Church has no ideology. A Catholic might be conservative or liberal in his or her political leanings, but above all, a Catholic is to be a Catholic. Rather than say "I am a conservative Catholic, I am a liberal Catholic, I am an "American Catholic" (and no you aren't, you are a Catholic in America), I am such-and-such a Catholic, Catholics should simply embrace being Catholic.

The problem, of course, is that many Catholics in this country can't stand the idea of doing that because it means they would have to embrace the Church's teaching in totality. Many liberals can't stand that because it means they have to stand up and defend the lives of the unborn and they can't support those who will not do the same, even in the voting booth. An extension of this is that neither are we free to contracept our families away, we must accept and love all children as the Divine Will of God and as a gift from the Father.

On the other hand, many conservatives can't bring themselves to fully embrace the teachings of the Church either. Doing so requires many of our folks to accept the right of employees to organize if they so choose, requires Catholic employers to pay their employees a decent wage and says that good working conditions and even affordable health care are not a privilege, but a right (see Rerum Novarem)-though it is worth noting that the Church also has traditionally maintained that those issues are best handled at the most local level possible and with as little government involvement as can be done.

You can't please everyone, so rather than try, perhaps Catholics should try standing up for the things we believe are right and good and true and let the chips fall where they may.


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