The few excepts below are part of a speech given by Fr. Tom Rosica at the CCO event on December 31 here in Ottawa. My comments to some of Fr. Rosica’s observations follow herewith.
7. Politics and Catholic Voices
Pope Francis rejects the reduction of Catholicism to hot-topic moral issues. He does not want to reduce the church to discussions of abortion, gay marriage, contraception and homosexuality.
It is rather bizarre, I think, to suddenly change course when for the past 35+ years, the last two Popes have basically set the agenda on this front and called us to actively oppose the “Culture of Death“. Remember that phrase? That’s not something some pro-life ranting banshee, like yours truly, made up. That came from the mouth of John Paul II. It’s not exactly a cumbaya phrase, is it? Hell no. It’s reminiscent of Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. I don’t recall either John Paul II or Benedict ever saying pro-life activists were “obsessed” with fighting abortion or gay “marriage”. In fact, John Paul II called the pro-life movement “the most important work on earth”. And rightly so.
If Catholicism cannot be reduced to “hot-topic” moral issues like abortion, I have got some really illuminating news for Fr. Rosica and the rest of the NuChurch crowd, it can’t be reduced to ANY social or moral issue, including “youth unemployment”. If NuChurch does not want to reduce Catholicism to moral issues, then it can’t pick the ones that it wants to emphasize and throw away ones it finds uncomfortable to deal with. It doesn’t work that way. We might as well talk about the Immaculate Conception all day long to the unchurched then, and forget about anything that deals with justice in this world. Sanctity of Life issues come first. Everything else falls into place after that, including poverty and youth unemployment.
To be sure, Catholicism is not just about hot-topic moral issues. No Catholic Pro-lifer ever said that it was, but it is an insult and an injustice for any priest, bishop, and yes even the Pope himself to classify determined and vigilant defense of unborn life as an “obsession” which implies, of course, that Catholics and other Christians involved in this work are somehow unbalanced. That’s not very ecumenical, is it? To insinuate that the attention and duty to oppose these gravest of evils where it is presented and when it is presented is not a solemn obligation of all Catholics is, quite frankly, tragically wrong and imprudent, to say the very least. The Pope has done his part to issue clarifications on the misinterpretations from individuals like Fr. Rosica.
Would Fr. Rosica venture the same opinion of those who opposed the Nazis as they marched the Jews into the gas chambers? Would anyone dream of describing the active and vigilant opposition to gassing the Jews as “obsessing”? I think not. So what’s the difference between the gas chambers in 1944 vs. the incinerators of 2014? The difference, of course, is that many in the Church and Her hierarchy are tired of fighting these “hot button” issues. They want to talk about something else. Things that everyone can agree on and where we can be “respectable” in the eyes of the world, in Liberaldom. We’re the toast of Skanktown itself these days.
In his comments, he makes a distinction between dogmatic and moral teachings, reminding us that they do not hold the same weight. With Pope Francis, the church must re-enter public discourse with a full-throated defense of the common good that rises above bitter partisan divisions.
Fr. Rosica is right about that one. They don’t have the same weight. The commandment “thou shalt not kill” trumps every proverbial “common good” issue that exists. In fact, they are not even on the same playing field.
It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae (1995), no. 101
Perhaps this is a message the social justice crowd and Development & Peace needs to hear again. Just what part of i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e or d-e-f-e-n-d-i-n-g does Fr. Rosica not understand?
I have a dream for you, that you will become voices in the public square across this vast land. I dream that some of you will be formed and prepared to be public voices, articulate, intelligent defenders of the faith, not ranting crusaders but reasoned, principled, joyful defenders of the faith and teachers of our tradition.
Of course, you can’t be articulate, intelligent defenders of the faith if you’re not on Fr. Rosica’s side. If you dare oppose giving honour to pro-abortion politicians, then you become guilty of “division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence…destroying and killing others“.
Well, look on the bright side, my fellow Pro-Lifer, you’ve upgraded yourself. Today, you are known as a “ranting crusader“. A couple of years ago, you would have been known as a “Taliban Catholic“.
It’s a promotion!
Then the world will stop, sit up and listen to us.
Yah, good thing the world is listening. It’s learning so much.