Dear Mr. Podesta,
I hope you are well. I understand that the political season has kept you quite busy and, for that reason, I will try to keep my message brief. You clearly have much important work to do.
Recently, Wikileaks publicized several email exchanges between yourself, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri, liberal think tank Center For American Progress fellow John Halpin, and Voices of Progress president Sandy Newman. Given that you were included in all of the emails in question, that you are the Chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and that you founded the Center For American Progress for whom Ms. Palmieri once worked and Mr. Halpin currently works, I reasoned that you would be the best person to whom I would address this letter.
First, I am sorry that so much controversy has surrounded these emails. Clearly, in the midst of a tough battle to win the presidency, these kerfuffles can be anything but welcome. That said, here you are.
I understand that both you and Ms. Palmieri are Catholics. I am pleased for you both. I converted to Catholicism in 2010 and have found that it was quite possibly the greatest decision of my life. It is an extraordinary Faith of immense depth and profound sanctity, wouldn’t you agree?
That said, I feel that I may have let you down. You see, these embarrassing emails surely didn’t need to embarrass. If you would only have cc’ed me or millions of other practicing Catholics, we could have helped you or your colleagues rediscover (or discover) what you may have forgotten (or never fully understood) about the Catholic Church.
Instead of looking at Catholics as a constituency to be courted or a bloc to be eliminated, instead of considering the corpus of the Faith to be an “amazing bastardization of the faith”, instead of believing many would convert to Catholicism because of blind attraction to systematic thought, ignorance of “Christian democracy” or because of its conservative fashionability, instead of thinking one could politically engineer a “Catholic Spring” to “demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship”…instead of all of these misinformed notions and misdirected efforts, Mr. Podesta, you (or, better yet, your friends) could have simply asked a couple of us average Catholics for our thoughts on who the Catholic Church really is.
So here, I humbly offer, is my answer:
The Catholic Church:
Is comprised of sinners who believe in redemption from beyond this world, not from within this world (as many politicians mistakenly believe).
Believes in the inviolable God-given dignity of the old, young and unborn, men and women, diverse races and abilities and the duty to tirelessly champion this dignity.
Renders unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but renders unto God what is God’s.
Believes a well-formed Conscience trumps personal convenience, political calculation or unjust laws.
Is larger than reductive labels of “liberal” or “conservative”, and in fact, transcends them by paradoxically finding room for justice and mercy, rights and duties, freedom and responsibility, love and accountability. We are a Faith of Dorothy Day and St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Josemaria Escriva, Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.
Wrestles with the most compelling human concerns of every generation in a loving, thoughtful and faithful fashion. As G.K. Chesterton once noted, “There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years…The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves.”
Celebrates the individual without sacrificing the collective Body of Christ. Simultaneously, it acclaims the collective Body of Christ without expending the individual. The Church is at once unity and particularity.
Speaks to the heart as well as to the head. It is a Faith of artists and scientists, musicians and mathematicians, the scholar and the simple.
Believes that the most important issues are those that sanctify our souls and protect our fragile, God-given humanity.
Leaves unexplained the inexplicable: the deep Mystery of the Eucharist, the incomprehensible depths of the Passion, the mind-bending wonder of Christ’s miracles and the staggering measure of God’s love.
Believes in heroes unlike those honored by the world. They aren’t wealthy or clean or beautiful or even couth. But at great expense to life and livelihood, Saints simply follow the Truth.
Has stood up for Christ’s Truth to tyrants and wicked states, zealots and false prophets for two thousand years. And has endured.
Recognizes the sin and fallibility of its members and leaders and seeks Grace while simultaneously dispensing it.
Knows that our Faith is not subservient to our personal politics, nor does it worship at the altar of national politics. Rather, our politics are formed and tempered by an overriding Conscience informed by Truth.
Is, quite simply, True.
I know, Mr. Podesta, the list is long. Forgive me. But I am sure that in the midst of the many demands on your time (and the time of Ms. Palmieri, Mr. Halpin and Ms. Newman), the simplistic, ill-informed (even caustic) assertions in your emails were simply an oversight. Surely.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Thank you for your kind attention, Mr. Podesta. I wish you and your colleagues good health and God’s grace.
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