Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Catholic means…totally Catholic!


It disturbs me to hear individuals that maintain they are Catholic and insist on the right to pick and choose beliefs that are acceptable to them personally as the defining point that makes matters, Catholic for them. Unfortunately for all of these individuals and groups, being Catholic and believing in the teachings of the Catholic Church is not an exercise in multiple choice testing. We profess on a weekly basis our belief in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic faith. We don't pick and choose what points of the Creed with which we as individuals will agree and consent.

Every day various topics reach the secular press about Catholics that are pro-choice. Well let's put that myth aside. There is no such thing as a pro-choice Catholic either implicitly or explicitly. Profession of faith as a Catholic encapsulates all of the Church's teaching on the value and dignity of all human life. That includes complete assent to the Catholic Church's moral teachings on the subject or quite bluntly…you are not Catholic. As Americans sometimes we confuse the issue of religious affirmation and intellectual assent with a poorly conceived notion of democratic idealism or perhaps humanism that gives us the choice to select points of our Catholicism. We do this almost unconsciously, because in the United States we enjoy freedom of personal expression and associate this freedom to the institutional beliefs of a nonsecular Catholic Church. Any type of activity that advocates personal ability to dissent to the teachings of the Catholic Church based upon freedom of personal choice or opinion is the result of very seriously malformed and misintentioned consciences.

Once and for all, the Catholic Church does not offer moral and ethical teachings based upon personal interpretations or opinions. The Church offers teachings based upon Divine Revelation and natural law as taught by the actions of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic traditions of His Church. Catholics need to make a complete intellectual and spiritual commitment to all of the Church's teachings…not just the one's they find personally acceptable.

Why is the trend in the Catholic Church one that attempts to equate moral and theological matters with secular terms and examples. We hear it as well around electoral time…Catholic candidates that affirm their Catholic faith will have no influence or effect upon their political goals, ambitions and the implementation of those goals and ambitions. Well, such an Orwellian concept of doublespeak is completely wrong. A candidate that professes Catholicism cannot be anything other than Catholic in their political, social or religious lives as united Catholics. It's like being a little bit pregnant …there is no such thing. Catholic voters need to recognize the critically important moral clout they bring with them into the voting box as well. As Catholics we have the ethical and moral responsibility to elect men and women to public office that reflect our Catholic moral and ethical values in their political activities. That means…politically responding and practically implementing governmental projects that enhance the dignity of all human life and is reflective of all Catholic moral and ethical teachings. Any political endorsement by a Catholic that is less than this…does not do appropriate justice to our faithful beliefs, nor does it offer an Catholic expression of social responsibility that comes with the power of the vote.

As Catholics, we need to, "RISE UP…and be on our way!" to paraphrase the book by the late John Paul the Great. In our rising up our message needs to include integrated and lived appreciation and respect for all aspects of our faith and Gospel values. Catholics are not called in faith to a religion of vacillating non-committal…but rather a deeply rooted moral affirmation of all the Church's teachings and values. Anything less…well is not really Catholic.