Wednesday, November 14, 2012

quietly

From Matthew Schmitz at First Things:

As a Christian, I do not think ceaseless talk about homosexuality is the best way to spread the Gospel of Christian love. As a citizen, I view a culture of divorce as a greater problem for the common good. If I had my bones, I would have socially conservative candidates act like Robert McDonnell in his race for Virginia’s governorship: Hold the line, but do not rhetorically escalate. Quietly move forward a culture of life.

Absolutely right.  This should _always_ be the angle of attack, so to speak.  Fallout from the 2012 election has produced waves of "the Catholic bishops overplayed their hand" comments. Already, though, Cardinal Dolan has laid out an agenda which is neither post-election concession nor defeat.  (And even that's not good enough, apparently.)  So much work to do, no time for crying over the election, especially when the smart money indicated that Romney victory would've brought a different set of challenges instead of merely deliverance from (presumably) an unjust rule.  The Church's work continues apace, willing to work with all people of good will.  Including, presumably, the nation's Catholic academic establishment.

One of the issues at stake, quite frankly, seems resonant with middle-school level socialization, i.e., teaching young individuals to stand up to peer pressure.  When possessed by an opinion or view unpopular among one's peers, we tell young people to stick up for their beliefs.  Furthermore, with the rush to combat bullying, we encourage teenagers to stand in solidarity (notice the lurking Catholic social justice terminology behind all this?) with those who suffer social ostracism. 

All good--but notice that is precisely THE OPPOSITE of what the bishops' critics argue.  The bishops overplayed their hand in the 2012 presidential election, thuggishly implying that a vote for Obama was a vote against religious freedom and the culture of life.  But shouldn't the bishops--precisely because they're bishops!--and the rest of Catholic America maintain its particular vision of Catholic social justice despite (momentary) evidence that their vision lacks popular support?  If our young people should learn to stand by their beliefs despite backlash, shouldn't we expect religious communities to do the same?  What are faith and ethics if they change according the prevailing winds?

Hence the need for quiet but nonetheless steadfast work to advance the culture of life.

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