The great Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, has again struck the nail on the head.
You should read his Keynote Address at the Second Annual Gospel of Life Convention this last weekend. The Catholic Key has the text. Here are a couple excerpts with my emphases.
He leads off:
But as I speak a word of encouragement today I also want to tell you soberly, dear friends, “We are at war!”
Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.
But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors – members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).
But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.
On the Notre Shame scandal:
In my first U.S. Bishops’ Conference meeting – June of 2004 – the bishops passed what seemed to me to be a compromise statement as a result of our lengthy debate on politicians and Communion. There we stated that pro-choice leaders (and specifically, Catholic leaders were mentioned) should not be given public platforms or honors. As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.
God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.
On Political Responsibility:
Occasionally we still hear an elected official speak of his or her personal opposition to abortion, while they support the legal right to an abortion. We should be very clear: Such a person places him or herself completely OUTSIDE the moral framework, the moral imperative of Evangelium Vitae and other Church teaching on these issues. They are NEITHER defending human life against the forces of death, NOR or they taking steps to build a culture of life. They have abandoned their place in the citizenship of the Church. Quite simply they have become warriors for death rather than life.
Such a person who makes a public stand – and acts directly – in defense of the right to kill – endangers their eternal salvation. If you and I support such a person who has so flatly told us of their intentions to protect a fraudulent Right to Death, a Right to an Abortion, we make ourselves participants in their attack on life. We risk our salvation, and we better change. Why? – because Bishop Finn is going to condemn you? No, I must say what the Church says, but I will not finally judge any human soul.
I know Catholics in our country are looking to their bishops for leadership in this. Four out of five letters I receive on these issues urges me to do more, not less. I was not able to attend the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York this week, but I watched part of the Mass on EWTN. I heard the homily and saw how well the new Archbishop was received. But there was one place in the homily that was particularly dramatic. When Archbishop Dolan mentioned the defense of human life, all St. Patrick Cathedral thundered with spontaneous applause and rose to its feet. At no other spot in the homily did any such thing happen.
See the whole thing at The Catholic Key Blog.
BTW… that eruption of applause during Archbp. Dolan’s sermon began with the priests who were present.