One result of the current debacle facing Catholic teaching authority is the serious lessening of its power to present the core Catholic vision in a way others find believable.
At the heart of our understanding of God, ourselves, salvation and human destiny is the communal nature of life. In Catholic understanding, there is no survival, let alone fulfillment of the individual outside of the community. There isn’t any hope for the community that does not include the dignity and fulfillment of the individual. The economic, social and legal behavior of our society makes it obvious that, regardless of the fine speeches we make about our union, we’ve not embraced this perspective.
If the law doesn’t stop me from getting or doing it, I have a right to it is a common attitude. To one who’s absorbed the Spirit of Jesus this understanding is unworkable and destructive.
Is it any business of religion? Yes. The foundational importance of community to life is a tenet of our faith. If we are committed to our faith, we are committed to the health of the community – the entire community. It’s not a doctrine to believe; it’s a love to share.
We must work for a healthy community and we must speak about a healthy community. We must make the community’s welfare the touchstone of our behavior. We promote the common good in every way we can – by explaining, by convincing, by encouraging, most of all, by modeling our commitment to it.
But some would say it’s not my job as a layperson to influence public opinion or policy. That’s the work of the bishops and cardinals. They testify before congressional hearings. They give speeches. They hold the press conferences.
In America today, the most trusted and powerful voice for our faith, the most valued source for Jesus’ values is the honest, down-to-earth neighbor next door. It’s the reliable person in the next office. It’s the car-pooling dad and the school volunteer mom. It’s the friendly clerk at the store.
You are the voice of the Church today. Don’t be silent.