Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. was quoted this week in USA Today as disparaging Catholics who vote with the Republican Party as “those who live in suburbs”. I guess that’s supposed to translate as “Those who are out of touch” with the real world in which he, presumably, lives. Caroline Kennedy, Sr. Simone Campbell and a bevy of other women didn’t hesitate to stand at the podium of the Democratic Convention last week and proclaim that they spoke for “Catholic women.” Within the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with close friends who have parents who won’t speak to them anymore or children who won’t speak to them anymore because of the deep rifts that are tearing the fabric of our country and our Church apart.
This state of affairs shouldn’t shock us. Jesus warns us over and over that families would turn against each other, that we’d be hauled into court and killed by those who felt they were acting in God’s name and that we needed to expect to give up land, family and wealth if we follow Him. But that’s not all He said. He also told us to “rejoice and be glad because it was thus that they persecuted the prophets before you.” In other words, our persecution—by priests who are supposed to be leading us like good shepherds, by nuns who are supposed to be icons of the Catholic faithful, by family members who are supposed to stand by each other no matter what–is something to be thankful for because it demonstrates that we are right road, that we are following Jesus.
Of course the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ has convinced even Church leaders and many of our friends and family that they too are on the right road and following Christ. So, ummm, how do we know who is right? That’s simple: Who is following Church teaching? It comes back again and again to the question of authority. Since relativists refuse to acknowledge by their lives and in their actions that Jesus, the Son of God, said “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” to the Apostles after He rose from the dead, what the Church says goes. Period.
As the Scripture tells us, we can’t say we love Christ who we don’t see when we don’t love our brothers who we do see. So, in living that admonition out in our homes on a daily basis, it’s necessary to ask for the grace to always “speak the Truth (i.e, Jesus) in love.” One of the reasons that we’ve drifted so far off course is because we’ve forgotten that speaking the Truth is the loving thing to do. When Truth is relativized into what each individual chooses to believe, then it’s considered unloving to point out that each individual simply ends up worshiping at the altar of the Idol of Myself and What I Believe. No one wants to hear that.
Fr. Reese, Sr Campbell, Caroline Kennedy et al seem to be worshiping at that altar. I can hear my readers now screaming, “You are not supposed to judge.” This is the mantra that has been co-opted from Scripture to beat non-relativists into submission. What that mantra fails to acknowledge is that Jesus tells us to “judge a tree by its fruit.” In calling our “Catholic” leaders out, I am looking at the fruit that I see in their very public actions, I’m not judging their internal forum. Since these actions obviously do not conform to the 2000 year old teaching of the Catholic Church that abortion is an intrinsic evil, I can deduce that they are worshiping at the altar of relativism rather than the altar that Jesus erected while He lived on earth.
As Catholics, who live in the suburbs or the city or the country, we must choose today, like Deuteronomy tells us, who we will serve: Life or Death. Anyone who has taken the time to read the Republican and Democratic party platforms and compare them to Church teaching will be able to see which party offers us the Platform of Death. This does not mean I am a Republican. There is much in their platform I disagree with. But everything I disagree with in that platform is not an “intrinsic evil.” The Democrats went out of their way last week to be loud and proud in favor of abortion, the intrinsic evil of our generation.
As such, I can only hopefully and humbly follow the example the Cardinal Dolan set so forcefully last Thursday when he walked to the podium at the DNC and quietly but firmly spoke the Truth in love. As a true Shepherd, he didn’t run away and hide from a barrage of heavy fire from friend and foe alike. He showed me where to walk to follow the Truth and enter through the narrow gate. Now all I have to do is follow!