Catholics, the Day After

Last night, in his graceful, humble concession speech, Mitt Romney said: “We look for our pastors, priests, rabbis, and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family,”

And this morning, Cardinal Dolan sent a letter to President Obama:

In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States. The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility. The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.
In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant. We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom. We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.
May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.

Life. Marriage. Religious freedom. Doing justice in the lives of the poor, most compassionately and efficiently, most lovingly. These are challenges. To him and all of us.

“The Catholic vote,” as we will hear, helped President Obama win reelection. “The Catholic vote,” of course, consists of Catholics who go to Mass on Sundays and those who do not. Many of those who do heard about the new understanding of religious freedom being advanced by the Obama administration. Others, not so much. They may have had a vague understanding of a political battle over contraception going on, and who wants a political battle over contraception?

When you poll people about the specifics of the HHS mandate issue (without even getting into the abortion-drug aspect of it, making it all the more shocking), people are on the side of religious freedom, not federal-government-mandated conscience violation. It was a consistent, under-the-radar issue with obsessives like me talking about it as individuals and cultural stalwarts like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Alliance Defending Freedom went in and out of court trying to combat it (the fight goes on, there is hope there). It got the occasional campaign-trail mention, most memorably from Governor Romney in Bowling Green, Ohio. But the issue was largely obscured in the popular media and a vice president simply lied about the facts of the matter.

And so here we are. But at a moment when the Catholic Church is reawakened to its need to fully and authentically and courageously engage in the daily life of our country. Inspiring and guiding policy, yes, but more fundamentally leading with integrity.

There was a Year of Faith launched in Rome this past month and it is about just this: Making sure Catholics know what it means to be Catholic. It was a remarkable historic moment to have two Catholics running for vice president. But it was also a scandalous one, where what has been clear for a long time now, was on display in an unprecedented way during these past weeks: That the public face of Catholicism has become, all too often, an abdication of what it means to be Catholic. That will only change with a revolutionary transformation, where believers renew, recommit, and reengage. In the most public of roles, yes — but that will only be born of a soul-change in our individual souls, a rejection of the practical atheism that all too often marks the lives of those of us who claim to be religious believers, an encounter with Christ in everyday life.

That’s the new revolution and that’s one that we have seen begin in a whole new way. That’s the New Evangelization. That’s our work, that restarts with prayer today. We have some tremendous challenges to come. Living and speaking truth in love — what Cardinal Dolan modeled at the conventions and in this letter today — is the way, always beginning and ending with, wholly sustained by, prayer.

Ten Catholic Things that Caught My Eye Today (March 3, 2016)
Twelve Catholic Things that Caught My Eye on St. Polycarp Day (2015)
First Al Smith Dinner Thoughts
Dinner Talk
  • Bill S

    It looks like the bishops and the administration will be spending a lot of time in court over the HHS mandate. It should be an interesting four years.

  • John

    If we ever expect to change the culture and save our most cherished freedom – freedom of religion, we have to change ourselves first. I outlined 10 steps every Catholic needs to take in order to take back our religious freedom, our faith, and our culture before we are brought back to God on our knees.

  • Linda Armijo

    While I see the need for the Catholic Church to open its doors to everyone, I am frustrated by Catholics In Name Only, who will not acknowledge the tenets of the Church, or teach them to their children. They want a “fun” and “easy to follow” doctrine which includes same-sex marriage, abortion, sex before marriage, promiscuous behavior and anything else they want to do. I would like the Church to make a distinction between those who would like to become Catholic, and are watching and listening to see if it suits them, and the already confirmed Catholics, who must be told: If you cannot or will not follow the Church’s teachings, then please go find a church that becomes you. Better to have less parishioners but who actually care, than more who claim to be Catholic so that they can get their sacraments but don’t really believe. My opinion…

  • ed

    I hope Mr biden’s bishop will also write him a letter too asking him to stop mis-informing Catholic what is Church teaching and oh btw see him about how he can set the record straight.

  • arthur1526

    I should share:

    Be certain of this, that the highest aim of creation and its most important result is belief in God. The most exalted rank in humanity and its highest degree is the knowledge of God contained within belief in God. The most radiant happiness and sweetest bounty for jinn and human beings is the love of God contained within the knowledge of God. And the purest joy for the human spirit and the sheerest delight for man’s heart is the rapture of the spirit contained within the love of God. Yes, all true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties, and untroubled pleasure lie in knowledge of God and love of God; they cannot exist without them.
    The person who knows and loves God Almighty may receive endless bounties, happiness, lights, and mysteries. While the one who does not truly know and love him is afflicted spiritually and materially b y endless misery, pain, and fears. Even if such an impotent, miserable person owned the whole world, it would be worth nothing for him, for it would seem to him that he was living a fruitless life among the vagrant human race in a wretched world without owner or protector. Everyone may understand just how forlorn and baffled is man among the aimless human race in this bewildering fleeting world if he does not know his Owner, if he does not discover his Master. But if he does discover and know Him, he will seek refuge in His mercy and will rely on His power. The desolate world will turn into a place of recreation and pleasure, it will become a place of trade for the hereafter.

    From Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi.

  • Beverly

    ” (without even getting into the abortion-drug aspect of it, making it all the more shocking)”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am not sure that this part of your sentence is correct. I was under the impression that the morning after pill is incorrectly labeled and that it does not actually cause an abortion.

    I agree with everything else you said. I just want to be clear on that point.

    • Kathryn Jean Lopez

      ella, is an abortion-inducing drug, and is among those covered under this mandate.

  • Don Malone

    The Catholic Church NEEDS to be stronger and much more deliberate with its intsuction. If necessary the Church needs to be SMALLER,praying for and teaching those who would pick and choose to live and vote outside of the tenets of its theology

    Cafeteria Catholics like Mr. Biden should never be allowed to proclaim Catholicism for themselves while serving as leading public officials. Only when a person can correctly defend the Church in public should the Church accept ones affiliation.

    Smaller but stronger.

  • William M

    Dear Ms Lopez,
    Until the Cardinals, Bishops, Msgr’s, Priests start naming names, where they stand on each issue and how that fits with Catholic teaching we are just whistling in the dark. This is just what President Obama along with his “Catholics” for Obama love, lots of bark and no bite.

  • Talon’sPoint

    And this is why we are drowning in debt. The church feels it is honorable of people to come here illegally and become a drain on the only nation standing in the path of Communism, Fascism, Socialism, and every other ism that is determined to usher in a one world government each hope to define.

    It’s suicidal. Thanks Church

  • Claude

    K-Lo wrote:

    “The Catholic vote,” as we will hear, helped President Obama win reelection. “The Catholic vote,” of course, consists of Catholics who go to Mass on Sundays and those who do not. Many of those who do heard about the new understanding of religious freedom being advanced by the Obama administration. Others, not so much. They may have had a vague understanding of a political battle over contraception going on, and who wants a political battle over contraception?

    Do you have evidence for this contention, or is it sheer speculation on your part? The assertion that Catholics who do not attend Mass every Sunday are therefore oblivious of current events is dubious.

    Tangentially related, the 2012 American Values Survey of the Public Religion Research Institute reported the following:

    Among Catholics who attend church at least once a week, a slim majority (51%) believe the Church’s public policy statements should focus more on social justice and helping the poor, compared to 36% who believe that the Catholic Church should focus more on issues like abortion and the right to life.

    Now, what was the lie that you accuse Vice President Biden of telling?

  • Claude

    Ask, and ye shall find. Even inadvertently, as I just did. It seems Bishop Jaime Soto was the one sheer speculating about only Catholics who attend weekly mass getting the inside baseball on the HHS controversy.

    Thank God for The New York Times.

  • Oliver

    Please do most rational people a favour and stay away from political discourse. Religion has no place in it. If you have you beliefs keep it to yourself.