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Now that we are here...

RAnn made an important point in a comment on my previous post: We would not be in this mess with the HHS mandate if Catholics were by and large following Church teaching and not using contraception. It is similar to the point made my Emily Stimpson here and here, reinforced by Pia de Solenni here, addressed by Thomas Peters here, and finally Tom Crowe offers a summary of all the aspects of these viewpoints here.

I highly recommend you take the time to read all the links above, but in case you are hurried here is the executive summary:

It is all well and good that our bishops are speaking out forcefully against the HHS mandate. It is a true threat to religious liberty. At the same time, there is some real frustration because we are in this mess because our shepherds have not done a very good job for at least forty years and probably longer in  proclaiming the Gospel of life. Catholics know the Church does not approve of contraception, but how many understand the "why" of this prohibition? Not only have bishops and priest not given the reasoning for the Church's stand, but many have been poor shepherds and actually given tacit approval to the use of contraception, sterilization, and other immoral actions. While the Obama administration bears the blame for initiating this assault on religious liberty, the Church leadership's failure at catechesis has enabled this crisis.

So this is where we are:  a new generation of bishops are ready to lead the charge against the assault on religious liberty. A small number of well-catechized Catholics appreciate the threat and are joining the battle. The vast majority of self-identified Catholics are oblivious to the issue. I don't refer to them as Catholics in the pew because a good many of them do not find a pew except on Christmas and Easter and maybe when "Grandmother" is in town. They are using contraception with no idea of the serious moral implications.

The answer to this dilemma begins where the answer to all dilemmas begins--with God. We begin in prayer. We ask for forgiveness for our failings. Perhaps one of the most relevant devotions for these times is the Divine Mercy chaplet where we pray repeatedly: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world". 

And then we act. One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is "to instruct the ignorant". There are a whole lot of ignorant Catholics out there. We need to teach by example first, and then as St. Francis admonished, use words if necessary. We also cannot ignore the political realities. In order to combat the evil around us we have to engage the political process. That means working tirelessly for candidates and legislation that embody true Catholic principles.

It is true that if the bishops, priests, and laity had embraced Humanae Vitae, the state of the Catholic Church would be very different. The reality is they didn't. So we are where we are. That doesn't mean we throw up our hands at the task and point fingers of blame.  It means that we trust in God and seek to be instruments for His plan.

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