Faith Under Fire

Since 33 A.D. the Catholic Church has often found herself at odds (or even at war) with government.  The Roman Empire tried its best to destroy the Church before finally being converted.  Over the centuries, we’ve found ourselves on the wrong side of princes and kings (remember Henry VIII ?), of laws and lawmakers and most recently the current President of the United States.  His administration has just issued a mandate requiring that Catholic social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and universities provide prepaid contraceptive services (including abortifacient drugs) to their employees.  Think about that.  The federal government is requiring the Catholic Church to pay for materials that directly contradict our core beliefs.  It’s attempting to interfere with our free practice of our faith.  Perhaps the President should re-read the Bill of Rights.  Anyway, his actions have united millions of Catholics in opposing the mandate.  Our Bishops have written letters to us which we heard read by our pastors at Mass, detailing the Church’s opposition to the President’s plan and urging us to contact our elected officials to reverse it.
To be brutally honest about the Catholic Church in America:  we should have seen this coming.  For way too long we’ve allowed others to tell our story for us.  It’s as if we’d rather let the media define us rather than having the moral courage and leadership to speak the truth about what we stand for.  But maybe things are about to change and if it does, we’ll have President Obama to thank.  We’re blessed with several excellent Catholic leaders among our bishops.  Many of them have shown remarkable strength of faith in their response to this latest challenge.  Maybe the administration will rescind the mandate or maybe the issues will have to be settled in the courts.  Either way, I think this is good for the Church.  When it’s all settled, we’ll be stronger for it.  This shouldn’t surprise us since Christ told us hell would never prevail against His Bride, the Church (Matthew 16:18). 
Being Catholic isn’t easy.  We are called to conform ourselves to God, not the other way around.  The Catholic Church isn’t a democracy.  Truth isn’t decided by majority vote.  I’m not free to pick and choose which parts of faith I accept or don’t accept.  I have to change myself to imitate Christ, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This is what “conversion” means.  I turn from my ways to follow The Way of my Lord and Savior.  When I entered the Church I entered into a 2,000 year inheritance of faith which Jesus gave to His Church.  My heart is liberated, not burdened, by the freedom of that history and deposit of faith.  That’s the good news.  God loves us so much that He gave us a Church to build us up and shepherd us to salvation.  This latest challenge to our faith will only make us stronger.
“They [the Obama administration] have given us a year to figure out how we can violate our principles—it’s not going to happen.”
                              —Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York


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