It is painful in this country, especially every election cycle, to bear the timidity of so many bishops and priests who do not confront the horrific culture of death that grows among us. Catholics elect pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, anti-family politicians and then habitually re-elect them. Even worse, some “Catholics” are these very politicians, working so effectively at destroying the very humanity of our country. And what are so many of our bishops and priests doing, meanwhile? So many are preserving and protecting the status quo at the parish and diocesan levels, giving nice homilies, dispensing sacraments, enjoying a religious career, and failing to do what the Church is sent to do: make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Church was sent to continue the work of Christ: the work of conversion, sanctification and renewal in this broken world. Instead, we are mostly a church in maintenance mode, hardly conscious of the command to mission that should define us.
Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke to the bishops of Brazil – and his words ring very true for our bishops here in America, especially in this time of national elections. Speaking to the bishops of the different roles of the laity and the clergy, the pope said (and this is quoted from an article from Catholic Online)
“First, the duty of direct action to ensure a just ordering of society falls to the lay faithful who, as free and responsible citizens, strive to contribute to the just configuration of social life, while respecting legitimate autonomy and natural moral law…. Your duty as bishops, together with your clergy, is indirect because you must contribute to the purification of reason, and to the moral awakening of the forces necessary to build a just and fraternal society. Nonetheless, when required by the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls, pastors have the binding duty to emit moral judgments, even on political themes.
“When forming these judgments, pastors must bear in mind the absolute value of those … precepts which make it morally unacceptable to choose a particular action which is intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity. This decision cannot be justified by the merit of some specific goal, intention, consequence or circumstance. Thus it would be completely false and illusory to defend, political, economic or social rights which do not comprehend a vigorous defense of the right to life from conception to natural end. When it comes to defending the weakest, who is more defenseless than an unborn child or a patient in a vegetative or comatose state?
“When political projects openly or covertly contemplate the decriminalizing of abortion or euthanasia, the democratic ideal (which is truly democratic when it recognizes and protects the dignity of all human beings) is betrayed at its very foundations. For this reason, dear brothers in the episcopate, when defending life we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, rejecting all compromise and ambiguity which would conform us to the mentality of this world”.
Do bishops and priests and deacons read what the Pope is teaching? I know some of them do, because I know some holy priests and deacons, praise God! I do not know any bishops personally – not one – but what I don’t hear from them or about them is deeply troubling. How can they be so quiet about issues that matter so much! Can’t they see the wolves at the door? Don’t they know of the countless babies killed, the patients in their own dioceses being denied human care – even food and water – so they can be “allowed” to “die with dignity”? Don’t they see the culture in which they are immersed, being dehumanized and de-christianized methodically all around them? Don’t they see the growing brutality, insensitivity and amorality that accompanies this increasingly decadent society, so driven by lust of every sort? Don’t they know that there is an answer: Christ?
What do the clergy do with their time? Are they so overwhelmed with “important” worldly matters that the essentials of their vocation in Christ are set aside? Are they so bogged down in the externals and the formalities that the interior life and light are lost? Clergy are obligated to recite the Divine Office daily (Canon 1174) – is there time to truly rest in the Lord, and pray? They read the lectionary and prepare homilies – is there time to listen to the word of God speaking within, in their own personal heart of hearts, listening not as a teacher of others but as disciple of Christ themselves? Do they have time to listen to the Pope?
God help us! Lord, give us your grace! Awaken this sleepy and self-obsessed church, that we might be worthy to be called your Church! This nation, this world needs the witness of Truth – now more than ever, as the tides of godlessness rise. The world needs the Church; the Church needs Christ. The Pope is faithfully proclaiming His Truth – is anyone listening?