Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Restoring a Catholic Culture: Where do we start?

I got the following from the Catholic Culture website.

I've been a follower of Catholic World News for years. This fall they merged their website into the Catholic Culture website. Please take time to read the whole article on their webpage. This commentary if from Phil Lawler

Shortly after the US presidential elections I wrote a column in our "Commentary" space lamenting the failure of Catholic Americans to join in a strong political bloc supporting a culture of life. Many readers responded enthusiastically to that column, and especially to these words:

To repair the damage, we must recognize that the problem is not restricted to abortion, nor to defense-of-life issues. Indeed it is not, strictly speaking, a political problem. To restore the integrity of the Catholic vote, we must first restore the integrity of the Catholic faith, and rebuild the foundations of a Catholic culture.


What can we do, you and I, to restore our Christian culture and protect our Catholic faith?

Over the years I have been involved in several different efforts to promote Catholic teachings in the political arena. Although I still applaud those efforts, and happily join them whenever I can, I have come to believe that they are not, and cannot be, the answer to our problem. Whenever a Catholic group rises up to support pro-life candidates, another group, claiming to be equally Catholic, counters by defending candidates who support abortion. You and I may agree that no genuine Catholic could support legal abortion. But the media disagree, and sympathetic reporters will always give an edge to the "pro-choice" Catholics. As long as Catholics are not unified in their beliefs, we cannot expect to form a solid political bloc.

But what if some of us were conspicuously unified in our beliefs and in our behavior? What if there were enough of us striving to live an authentically Catholic life so that our neighbors couldn't help but notice? Inevitably they would notice, too, if there was something a bit different about the way we lived: something distinctive, something attractive, something clearly in keeping with the teachings of the Church. We need to bear witness to the power of Christian principles, to act as the yeast within our society.

We can't expect instant results. I'd love to be able to suggest some strategy that would turn things around in a matter of weeks, and replace secular hedonism with Christian humanism. (To be perfectly honest, I think the prospect of a quick victory lures many people into political campaigns.) But let's be honest with ourselves. Our society's problems did not crop up overnight, and they won't be resolved overnight, either. We're in this battle for the long haul.

Quite a few readers, responding to my post-election analysis, argued that the American bishops should do more to unify the faithful, by clearly enunciating the teachings of the Church and rebuking those Catholics who flout them. I wholeheartedly agree with that argument. At every opportunity I encourage bishops to carry out their teaching responsibilities. But in the end I'm not a bishop; I can't control their actions.

I can control my own actions, however. When I am called to give an account for my life, I don't expect to be asked what the American bishops did or said about a particular problem; I'll be asked to explain what I did or said. Moreover, it is the duty of the Catholic laity, not the clergy, to transform the social order with the power of the faith. [Fr. Leo's emphasis]

So let's get to work. What can we do?
The rest of the article goes into detail.
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