Do Catholics even know what it even means to be Catholic anymore? Do we even know what we believe in, or is it all just a personal opinion? I say this because after watching several days worth of the Democratic National Convention, there seems to be a lot of very confused Catholics in high ranking positions, making the general public even more confused about Catholicism.
The best example of this had to be Caroline Kennedy, who began her speech with this line:
“As a Catholic woman, I take reproductive health seriously, and today, it is under attack. This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care. That’s not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn’t the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president. Now is the time to move this country forward.”
To anyone watching, one would think that Catholics support abortion & contraception!
After hearing the DNC I am inclined to agree with the Pope who came out last month and said that it would be better for people – who don’t believe in certain aspects of the faith, such as matters concerning life and family – to leave.
“Finally, Jesus knew that even among the twelve apostles there was one that did not believe: Judas. Judas could have left, as many of the disciples did; indeed, he would have left if he were honest. Instead he remained with Jesus. He did not remain because of faith, or because of love, but with the secret intention of taking vengeance on the Master. Why? Because Judas felt betrayed by Jesus, and decided that he in turn would betray Him. Judas was a Zealot, and wanted a triumphant Messiah, who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus had disappointed those expectations. The problem is that Judas did not go away, and his most serious fault was falsehood, which is the mark of the devil. This is why Jesus said to the Twelve: “One of you is a devil” (John 6.70). We pray to the Virgin Mary, help us to believe in Jesus, as St. Peter did, and to always be sincere with Him and with all people.
I guess I don’t understand why people who disagree so strongly with the Church stay. If they really wanted the Church to change how does belonging to it further their cause? Do they think that if they get enough voices that the Church will change? Do they honestly believe the Church is a democracy?
Or perhaps our educators are not doing a good enough job of telling people that these things will never change, that the Church is not a democracy and it cannot change what Jesus taught. For example, we will never see women priests or call abortion anything but “intrinsically evil”. Perhaps we will lose people with this approach but, at least they will have to think long and hard about what they believe and what the Church teaches. Can they be like Peter and have faith and believe, even though they may not yet understand? Like the Pope says when he quotes St. Augustine:
“He does not say we have understood and then we believed, but we believed and then we understood. We have believed in order to be able to understand; if, in fact, we wanted to understand before believing, we would not be able either to understand or to believe.”
To use a sports and coaching analogy: if the whole team isn’t on the same page their can be no victory. If the coach is telling the team to play zone defence and a couple players think the coach is wrong and play man, what will the outcome be? Not a good outcome for anyone. It would be better for all players and coaches involved for those players to leave and form their own team. This does not mean we are uncharitable towards these people, but at least we hold them accountable because they are being hypocritical. We wish, very much, that they could believe, that they would have a true conversion of heart, but we have to respect their free will to choose.
I know it is not that easy, but I think it’s better than the confusion that seems to be prevalent in Catholics today. At least it will give me more class time to focus on why the Church believes this, rather than spending the bulk of my time correcting the confusion of what Catholics “actually” believe.