“The Church needs two wings to fly…”

“Catholics who are passionate about the family, the life issues and the sexual issues go to one side of the room, and Catholics passionate about the social teachings of the Church to the other. And from their sides they both hurl blame, venom, scorn,  and debate who is a true Catholic and who really cares about what is most important.  We do this rather than appreciate the work that each of us does in essential areas and we fail to understand that the Church needs two wings to fly.

The easiest thing in the world is to get Catholics fighting and divided. And we take the bait every time. The media knows it and so does the President. Shame on them for doing it, but shame on us for being such an easy target.”

– Msgr. Charles Pope

Read what else he has to say.


  1. AMEN!!!

  2. vox borealis says:

    Shame on Msgr. Pope for taking the bait, on a more fundamental level, by accepting the false distinction between “family, life and sexual” issues and “social teachings.”

  3. I heard a discussion this morning after mass that gave me pause to kind of rethink some of these arguments and how to deal with them. What Msgr. Charles Pope says here is true. Both sides for years have been at this battle with little impact to either side. In the last 10 elections, whoever seems ahead in the battle to change Catholic hearts and produce a majority Catholic vote has won and that has been equally divided to five for each side. This also means that we have been at this for deacdes as have the battles over Vatican II reality or the “spirt” of Vatican II. Those passionate Catholic on both side have zero impact on the other side, but depending on times, the arguments impact some of those in the middle, just as the do in the middle of conservative and liberal viewpoints.

    The person today was a lifelong passionate Catholic and Democrat. He shared the news on the new tie of surgical abortion to the HHS issue which we had not yet heard and it caused him to begin to see that something in the Democratic Party was forcing him to rethink his connections to the party. What he said next was the eye opener. This was a break that mattered a lot to him and would cause him great pain for it seemed he was leaving a very old friend and even in some ways breaking with his dad who he was sure was a Democrat at birth before he was even baptized. In this pain, I do not need to hear the passionate arguments from the other side or victory chants which could drive me and others to refuse to join their side, but to simply give up and stay at home. He said I need to hear not reasons or excuses for the other party past history, but what they are going to do about the concerns that have tied me to the Democrats over the years. To do so, I need to take a fresh look at their proposals to see how they can help the poor in some new way, how they can offer us greater hope for peace, better overall solutions that show they care about immigrants in general if we stop illegal immigration, and something on healthcare issues besides HSA and stopping lawyers from suing.

    I see here an opportunity to come together with the Bishops and brining Catholics together which will be hard in the passionate days of an election, but it is something I think we might all want to open up to on both sides of the discussion. What we might all agree on at this point is that the acts by this administration is not good for either wings of this bird we call our Catholic Church. The new add of $1 abortions is simply a bridge to far for all of us to ignore.

    I am writing a letter to those running for office that they need to look to address some of these issues raised by this very brave man and this woman above. Our pastor who was listening to the discussion has going to put a letter together to our Archbishop and also to Cardinal Dolan on the same topic. Imagine how high we could fly if we can get both wings focused on Catholic teaching independent of Party and force both to adapt and adress issues if they want to win elections. We want new answers to problems as many of the old ones are not working well. We want programs for the poor and elederly, but not ones that have not shown to be effective and that are killing our financial picture which impacts our kids and grandkids. We want immigration solutions which secure the borders but they have to have a more humane look at international issues for the poverty.

    This blog has always presented issues and its call not to allow Catholic Church bashing puts it in a good place to be involved in real discussion rather than talking points of either party. Maybe as we approach the elections we could look at issues from a fresh starting point and share insight and ideas on what would work best, but also how to talk to each other to allow the wings to work together for the greater good of His Church and America we all love. I have been as guilty of failing in this area as anyone, but today was a real eye opener for me and this quote from Msgr. Charles Pope drove it home. For those I have offended, I apologize.

  4. Mark what a wonderful post! I am sure there are many things we would disagree on but I do see the fruits of the Spirit working through Deacon’s work on this blog. My eyes have been opened to see issues from a different perspective and I often reflect on the debates I see going on here. Jesus prayed that we would stay united in His Body – I am sure He knew and knows how challenging that can be at times. But if God is for us who can be against us!

  5. ron chandonia says:

    For the Catholic Church, which was the pivotal 1968 event: Humanae Vitae itself or the dissent that followed in its wake? The two “wings” of the Church in America obviously disagree, and unless and until we come to some meeting of the minds on sexual morality, we will not be able to move forward as a united people.

  6. I meant to include after the word “blog”: and I am sure there are areas in which we could find agreement and consensus.

  7. Thanks Barbara. Sorry for taking you to task so many times. Lets see if we can make our wings work a little better together.
    I have seen so much in my lifetime and have studied history all my life. I have found that history is such a good predicter of human behavior in what some think is something totally different. We give things new names, try to believe that somehow our situation is so much different, and we often end up suffering from what could have been avoided. the most common reason for that is we leave God behind in our personal lives, in the life of the Church led by human beings, and in the life of our country.

    I do think Christ is trying to speak to us at this time in America that if we want to once again believe we are headed in the right direction, that has to be toward again putting our nation under God and accepting that all our rights come from God. I think we would see better times if we returned to having the wall around government and freedom of our religious liberties and that we do not need or should we accept the government establishing a secual relgion on the people. Sometimes I think if we got back to basics of things like this and gained agreements, then current political issues would fall into place a lot easier. Like the gentleman this morning said, he needs to put God back first over the party and then work from there. If the party is not in line with essential teaching of the Church he loves, he cannot support it either way. I am spending the rest of lent trying to open up to this old reality I think some like me and others have lost. We have to given 100% with our whole strength, heart, soul, and mind to God first. If we do this, I think who we decide to support for serving us in public life becomes easier.

    I think we have all been given a jolt and need to examine our alligiences and to stop bashing, but finding a new way to fly. I need to take another look at what the Pope and Bishops say about those issues most important to the Catholic Church and thus to Christ and in humility put away pride and human weakness and let them speak to a new heart.

  8. I wonder if the fallout from “Humanae vitae” was as strong throughout the whole Catholic Church as it was here in the U.S.

  9. I agree Ron. Now is there a new way to look at things in light of where we are today? It is obvious the old discussion are only taking us further apart. I think that in view of the united front with the Bishops who obviously were apart on issues like this, we should see if we can develop some new thoughts, new way of looking at the issues, new ways to educate, or whatever else is needed. For those in support of birth control, it might be good to have them take a first or another look at humanae vitae to see why this issue was one so important to the Bishops. Is there a connection that led to much of what they have today. Won’t happen unless they see those against birth control trying to find compassionate way to talk about it. A woman I love talked to me a week or so ago and said she was on the pill for years and never even considered it a Catholic issue, that is was optional. Her sister was unable to have children and concieved with IVF and did not even realize the Church had an issue with it. unless we all are willing to look at things with new eyes, Catholics will remain devided. Not sure there is a way to unite on everything, but each item we find common ground apart from a political decision, makes it easier for us all to unite as Catholics and have a real impact on the direction of this country. In a way, we have allowed both parties to work to divide the people from one common faith that I think is essential for this country and the world at this important time.

  10. ron chandonia says:

    The birth control issue clearly needs to be revisited, preferably in a context as far from partisan politics as possible.

  11. We may also need a third Vatican council to clear up the confusion during the last 50 years.

  12. Had Paul VI given approval to artificial birth control in “Humane vitae” the words of Pius XI in his encyclical, “Casti connubii” (1930) would have had to be interpreted as wrong.

    “. . . any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”- “Casti connubii” (56)

  13. Barbara P says:

    Mark we have both argued with passion from our different wing positions and I apologize to you. I cannot tell you how moved I am by what you have written and can honestly and sincerely say that I agree with you. I have been feeling discouraged lately for various reasons but you have filled my heart with hope and love for my Church and a renewed understanding that we are all on this journey together as one body in Christ. God Bless you Mark and even though I am sure there will be some turbulence since we seem to be two very opinionated people, I look forward to flying with you!

  14. ron chandonia says:

    Quite true, and perhaps a significant reason for the conclusions of the 1968 encyclical, but not the first time authoritative teaching from the past would have been revisited and revised. Remember that it was Pope Benedict himself who called Gaudium et Spes a “counter syllabus”–that is, a very different way of looking at the modern world than the one evident in Pius IX’s now somewhat infamous Syllabus of Errors. John T. Noonan’s The Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching offers a valuable perspective on the underlying issues.

  15. Patrick Sweeney says:

    My answer to this is short: This calculated is to put a fig leaf over the obscenity of the public advocacy of abortion by Catholics and political support for the politicians who have legalized, funded, and now mandated abortion.

    We saw this played so well against us before in “Catholics are not single-issue voters” – a statement made in the name of the USCCB.

  16. This is a false dichotomy. If you walk outside and see your neighbor’s life is threatened, you don’t get to say “oh well, I am going to do something for the poor today”. The real dichotomy is between those who see 1.5 Million abortions each year as one “issue” among many and those that see life as the most fundamental issue of human dignity.

  17. Bill Foley says:

    from Bill Foley

    The idea of two wings is really not accurate. We should rely on the threefold reality of Bible, tradition, and magisterium (the Holy Father plus the bishops in union with him and the Councils that he approves). The Church is neither liberal or conservative–how Blessed John Paul the Great disliked these terms when applied to the Church. We should put on the mind of Christ by conforming our thinking, speaking, and acting in conformity with the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church. This is what the saints did and what the saints and spiritual masters taught.
    By the way, the moral teaching of the Catholic Church does not change, and only the magisterium of the Church can interpret what the magisterium taught in the past.

  18. Chris in Maryland says:

    Msgr. Pope is mistaken to think that “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics are “wings” that lift the Church. These categories are political labels, imprinted largely by people whose identity is primarily political, not Catholic, to draw lines and protect or smear those they asssign to these groups. That the Church isn’t “flying” but is floundering is a sign of how this divide is dissolving the Church.

    Bill Foley has it right. Period.

  19. Chris in Maryland says:

    Btw…I suppose those Catholics involved with Project Rachel and other pro-life causes would be assigned to the “conservative” wing. Those folks know the truth…that it is most often the poor woman who is victmized by the “enlightened” arguments for abortion.

  20. Art ND'76 says:

    And what about the guidance of the Spirit of God? All of this about family, social, sexual, and social justice issues are merely manifestations of love, but what about love itself? Are we so arrogant as to think we know God’s mind better than others who also want the good for others? As St. Paul said, we are all different members, but of the same body. If we grow apart, could this be because we grow away from God? Could it be that if we all grew closer to God we would also be closer to each other? And who teaches us how to grow closer to God?

    Unfortunately, my own experience from the 70′s onward bears out the terrible third message given by Our Lady of Akita concerning the work of the devil in the church, so I always pay particular attention to the teaching of the Pope over that of any particular priest or bishop.

  21. I truly foresee a period of persecution of Christians in the future. We are heading incrementally in that direction. I’m not talking gas chambers or anything like that, I just mean a steady erosion by government into religious freedom until in twenty years we look around and realize that we truly don’t have religious freedom any more. I see a lot of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights going that way. Look where we stood fifty years ago and where we stand now on Constitutional issues and freedoms. This isn’t a right wing or left wing issue, its an everybody issue. We have become so used to freedom in the US that we forget that it isn’t the natural state of man, and is a real rarity in history. We assume things will never change, but extrapolate this erosion of freedoms fifty years into the future and see what you think we’ll be facing. I won’t live to see it, but I truly fear for my children.

    That being said, persecutions tend to unite and revitalize the Church. I really don’t worry for the Church, it has withstood much worse. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, and they never have and never will.

  22. Of course it takes two wings to fly … but unless both wings act together, in a coordinated fashion … towards a common objective … all that results is useless thrashing. Ask any cat what typically happens next!

  23. Mark – amen! God bless you for your words.

  24. Bless you and Mark. Two wings coming together!

  25. It’s a nice analogy, the two wings, but not a perfect analogy as some have pointed out. To those that point the limit of the anology, ok. Understand however that while the church doesn’t have a Liberal and Conservative side, just a Catholic Magisterium side, the reality is that the congregation has oriented itself as such.

  26. Interestingly, the comments in this column bear out Msgr Pope’s words quite accurately. Instead of two wings, everyone says, “No! The Church has only one wing. And it’s mine.” Good luck with that.

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