With the passage of the health care bill Sunday night and the expected signing today, some may ask if I am sad, angry, discouraged, frustrated, etc. My answer is that I am faithful. As Mother Teresa says, we are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful. What I believe and what I do has not changed.
Yes, we have suffered a legislative defeat. But the battle rages on. There are always more legislative byways and alleys to pursue. Even more importantly, there are hearts and minds to be won. This is not about abortion. This is about understanding that every human being is created in the image of God. Every human being has a purpose in God's great plan of salvation. If more people understood this, the legislative issues would resolve themselves.
Last Wednesday evening our parish RCIA program invited me to give a talk on the "Sanctity of Life". Consider it a ninety-minute whirlwind tour of Catholic bioethics. I took the phrase "life is sacred from conception to natural death" and outlined the Church teachings on issues from conception to death. The ninety minutes included plenty of time for questions and discussion. I think the evening went very well.
My goal is to bring this teaching to cradle Catholics as well as converts. I do this through my blog, through my Examiner.com columns, and through live presentations. On my Examiner.com column I have a frequent commenter who constantly attacks me for being too politically partisan. He writes under various pseudonyms but it is clear that is is one person. He tries to make similar ad hominem attacks on this blog, but I have more control over the comments here and can screen his venomous screeds more effectively. The principle of the sanctity of life is not a partisan issue. I will not shy away from writing on politics when politics and legislative issues bring these fundamental moral principles to the forefront.
That said, the focus can never be purely political. Am I disappointed in many politicians? Absolutely. But my trust is not in either Bart Stupak or Chris Smith. Mere mortals will always disappoint. My trust is in Christ and His Church. He will never disappoint me.
Several politicians defined themselves with their vote on Sunday. Several religious sisters defined themselves as faithful to the Magisterium or faithful to the Democratic party with their statements regarding health care. (also see this post) The bishops did very well at keeping the moral issues in the forefront for the last year, but their decades of allowing these moral issues to be equivocated by Catholic politicians is coming home to roost. So what now?
As I said at the beginning, what Catholics believe has not changed. What Catholics are called to do has not changed. We are called to defend and support the principle of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. We must not despair that this legislation which has the capacity to be a second Roe v. Wade will receive the President's signature today. Look at all the machinations that were required to get it passed in spite of the President having a huge majority in both houses of Congress. Look at the fact that even though Roe v. Wade is the "settled law of the land" more and more people are becoming pro-life. Look at the fact that the youth of our country are more pro-life than their parents.
We must keep fighting the legislative battles whenever and wherever they occur. But we must also redouble our efforts to offer mercy to women who think abortion is their only answer. We must be the voice, the hands , and the feet, for all those who are vulnerable and marginalized--the unborn, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled. We must charitably teach everyone we encounter that life is sacred. As St. Francis said, we should use words when necessary.
To that end, I encourage each of you to consider what forums you have available to teach about the sanctity of human life. It is great when we hear this from the pulpit, and I know many priests and deacons do offer this teaching. But it is the duty of the laity to take this message out of the sanctuary and into the world. Does your Catholic school PTO offer a pro-life presentation to its members? What about your parish men's club, women's club, mom's club, youth group, RCIA etc? Is it part of preparation for Confirmation? After all, these students who are about to complete their initiation into the Catholic Church need to know what it means to be Catholic.
For those who live near the D.C. Metro area, I am happy to offer my presentation to your group. You can contact me at the email on the sidebar.
Finally, none of our efforts, however well intentioned, can be properly focused if they are not supported by prayer. We accomplish nothing alone, but with God, everything is possible.