Through various conversations and by reading the thoughts and comments of others, it strikes me that perhaps its time to start a new Catholic Action. You see, Stacy Trascanos notes with her usual perspicacity that, news flash, bishops don’t frequent OB/GYN offices. Her point is that in all the relief from Catholics and non-Catholics that the bishops are “finally” acting over this whole HHS thing, we forget that perhaps we should have been doing something about this all along, i.e. we the laity.
Then I read Kristen Walker over at Live Action Blog who outs the actress Kate Walsh as being a rabidly pro-abortion celebrity who revels in the opportunity to promote abortion and its many “blessings.” She notes
I don’t know if “Sexy Hospital” [i.e. the TV show "Grey’s Anatomy"] is still on the air because I haven’t looked it up, and I’m not going to look it up because I already googled that photo. That is a whole minute of my life I will never get back. That just happened. But if it is on the air, consider not watching it. It launched the career of Kate Walsh, who raises money to kill babies, and it pushes a sexual agenda that points straight to Walsh’s beloved Planned Parenthood.
Boycotting Kate Walsh is fun and easy, like Skee-Ball! I suggest you try it.
See, the HHS mandate didn’t just come up out of the blue. Some bishops have actually been warning about this sort of thing for a while. Of course, all of us who were trying to keep Catholic friends from voting for Barack Obama saw this coming. The man promised to do this, remember?
The mandate and the rest of this didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. There has been a long and steady slip into idiocy in this country. Stacy Trascanos and Kristen Walker both remind us that changing the outside world, effecting public policy, making our nation a better place for our children, and supporting our Church’s work in the world…all of this is our job as the laity.
We would all like, I am sure, to be freed from actually having to take responsibility for what we see around us. Many readers here tried to blame the bishops for Barack Obama’s election by arguing that their Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document confused Catholic voters and led them to rationalize their choice. Of course, this accusation ignores the fact that hardly any Catholics actually read the thing. It also ignores the fact that the vast majority of Catholics don’t follow a whole host of Catholic doctrines to begin with. Why do we think that Catholics would change their voting patterns if the bishops spoke out bluntly in some document hardly anyone reads?
No friends, the situation with HHS and this administration lands on our shoulders, not just the bishops. They are actually deeply dependent on us the laity to be the domestic Church, to fight the good fight out into the world, to build those good and holy friendships that build up the body of the Church for mission. In fact, Archbishop Chaput had this to say back in 2005:
In an age when so much of the Church’s apostolic work depends on the laity, men and women formed in the great moral and intellectual traditions of the Catholic faith are especially vital. Laypeople on fire with the truth of Christ’s Church are the vanguard of the Gospel in the modern world.
Indeed, this is the very vision of the Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et spes or the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World is the great foundation of this vision, a vision that involves the social doctrine. Essentially, the Church exists to make Christ accessible to us so that we might be more fully human and thus more capable of bringing Christ out into the world. This bringing Him out into the world means founding holy families that effect holy cultures that engage in holy economics protected by holy governments that allow for a holy world.
The work of the social teaching is not mere justice. It is the radical transformation of the world to Christ Jesus and his terrifyingly beautiful love.
So Kristen Walker reminds us that this process might mean maybe turning off that blue-lighted glow-box in your living room, or at least making sure that what you watch is good for the soul. Don’t pay money to see offensive films. Don’t let your money go – via your children either remember – to music groups that promote promiscuity and drug abuse. Don’t frequent the stores that sell pornography. And for goodness sake, don’t vote for the guy who says he will help the poor by making sure there are physically fewer of them thanks to abortion.
According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, one of the fundamental principles of the Social Teaching is Subsidiarity. Libertarians, Conservatives, even Progressives (to a degree) love this principle. But in order for Subsidiarity to mean anything, the next principle has to be applied, and that’s Participation. That is to say, we actually have to get involved.
Believe you me that I’m not saying I’m great at that. The folks at my parish can testify to that. But educating our friends, helping to fund educational projects, and protecting our Church’s authentic social teaching are vastly more important projects for Catholics to undertake than organizing a petition against some bishop because of what we think he should do.
In fact, let me go out on a limb and say that those talking heads out there that make a living from criticizing the bishops really ought to spend their amazing energy and wonderful talent on educating the laity for the good. Let’s bring people to holiness instead of bashing bishops. It is easy to attack them, what with their funny hats. But they carry a burden we cannot possibly imagine. Seriously.
Sure we all have horror stories. We all know someone who knew someone who knew a bishop who did x, y and also z. Or perhaps you were the direct recipient of a poor decision by a bishop. Whatever the case, like with all of us, a bishop is made up of more than a few poor policy decisions. There is always a heart there that wants to see change for the better. Bishops are people too you know.
And before anyone says it, I’m not saying that just because the laity have such a big role in society that the bishops get off scot-free.When liturgical abuses abound and abuses of other sorts, we need a strong bishop to act decisively. Some bishops have been too attached to stuff, to the bureaucratic machine that can in some places be what people experience as church. This is wrong.
But when it comes to changing public policy, when it comes to transforming our culture, when it is a matter of preaching the Good News out into the world, not in the Church but out into the world, well… this is our duty. This is the lay person’s job. This is Catholic Action, and we need more of it if we are going to survive.
Granted, the danger here is thinking that this is all that we need. Remember Gaudium et spes tells us we need Christ first. That means we must be rooted in His love. But Catholic Action should presume that, and so we should act. Last week’s Komen Foundation hoopla, after all, was started in large part because lay people made a fuss about the fact that their money was going to Planned Parenthood, and thus baby-killing. As trite as it may sound, we can make a difference. Lord knows the technocrats of death will be trying to do the same.