I found out something joyful today, namely that the archdiocese of Chicago is making a very concrete action toward a more whole life culture, and they are doing so in-house with a new parental leave policy. (H/t to Mark Shea, as I heard it first from him.)
I believe that a major archdiocese modeling better parental leave policies is a great witness for our society. Regardless, it is a wonderful thing in itself – I hope that we Catholics can agree that we would rather live in society where acts that witness to the need for a thoroughly just society and a whole life sensibility are expressions of the status quo, rather than acts of counter-culture. Since we don’t, consistent, practical witness to that need is all the more important: more important than the witness of words that it serves to make credible. Rebecca, over at Suspended in Her Jar, has some important things to say, and I will link them below. From the standpoint of reporting and reacting to the news, she does an excellent job. From my standpoint, I don’t have anything to add on that front. I am writing primarily to add my voice to the praise Arch. Cupich is receiving for this policy. Secondarily, I am writing because hearing the name Cupich brings to mind the last time I remember him making the news.
I don’t live anywhere near Chicago, and I don’t hear about its Archbishop very often. But I did hear about him last June when he reacted to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. His statement is quite modest, reminding his readers that no discrimination towards gay persons is justified in or by Catholic teaching, and that our own beliefs about marriage are unaffected (unthreatened even) by the mere presence and difference of those who believe and practice differently than we do. A view that is not at all unreasonable, but does not necessarily sit well with the rhetorical and political sensibilities of some Catholics. Too often, Catholics’ rhetoric about marriage and sexuality leaps over being quietly at peace in our beliefs, and thereby excludes the possibility of making them clear, much less attractive, to those who are for any reason unconvinced by or unsympathetic to them.
What unifies last June’s statement and today’s policy update in my mind (other than simply the name Cupich) is that both are very commonsense and straightforward in the way they rise from Catholic teaching and in the witness they give to it. Both also lack the combative air of the culture wars, instead turning the Catholic viewpoint inward, accepting the need to change culture by participating in it. Not the only form of witness, but the most basic and, I suspect, the most vital.
Thank you, Archbishop Cupich.
Rebecca’s take on today:
If we take our mission seriously, Catholic organizations should should do better than secular ones at building a genuinely pro-life, pro-family economy. And at times throughout history, and across the globe, it has, but the church in contemporary American is not a shining instance in this regard. Quite the contrary. And given our great wealth, our resources, our relative tranquility and freedom, this is shameful.
Happily, we may be seeing a change here. The Archdiocese of Chicago is now offering twelve weeks of paid parental leave to all employees. This is thanks largely to the initiative of Archbishop Blaise Cupich, who began planning to implement this policy when he took the reins of the nation’s third-largest diocese – in spite of the woeful condition of the finances inherited from his predecessor, Francis Cardinal George – thus proving that “it can’t be done financially” is too often an excuse used by organizations who would rather spend money elsewhere, or simply not go through the effort of making real changes.
But this is only the beginning of desperately needed change.
You can read the rest here.
Image of Arch. Cupich’s episcopal coat of arms, image credit:I, SajoR [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons