Answering Tough Questions and Mr. Holland’s Opus relate to our trying times


“Humanae Vitae came forty-four years ago. It is time to get back to our Catholic roots. While we engage in another forty-four years of talking points, God’s children are dying, and God is angry.” So ended the affirmative at the Answering Tough Questions at Our Cathedral this November 7, 2012. Upon returning home, the movie on the tube was Mr. Holland’s Opus, a movie that included the negative impact of Kemp/Roth, along with the tax and budget mania of the ‘80s, the turn of the century and the conservative push for the same in present time.

It is sad to report, but given the choice of a penitential look at the past 32 years and asking the role they might have played in the poverty and suffering coming from the events of those years, and sticking with their current agenda, they chose their current agenda. The affirmative’s point was very clear; each side, right and left, engages in its talking points. Their side is not serious about a solution. Talking points is so much easier.

The US Department of Census Reports on the number of abortions each year, and it reports the rate went up or remained steady from 1974 until the Presidency of Bill Clinton. After that time, it has declined every year, regardless of who the president was. 86.2% of all abortions are performed on women earning less than $60,000 per year. 48.2% are performed on women earning less than $30,000 per year.

Abortion rates are clearly tied to poverty. That means any meaningful attack on the abortion rates to bring them down to the Catholic and Christian ideal of zero, must include an attack on poverty. The conservatives made it clear that for them the only acceptable issues are what they call the Five Non-negotiable Issues, of which abortion is one. Poverty is not one of those issues. That means, even though an attack on poverty is required to bring down the abortion rates, they are not willing to attack poverty. George Gallup reports on his website:

The percentage of Americans identifying as Roman Catholic has stayed within a range between 20% and 30% over the last 60 years. Catholics were 22% of the U.S. adult population in 1948. That percentage rose reaching its high point in the 1970s, when the U.S. population was nearly 30% Catholic. In the last several years, Gallup’s estimate has been Catholic 22% to 23%.”

The conservatives choose to blame the decline on church identification upon the so-called liberal interpretation of Vatican II. Vatican II opened on 11 October 1962 and closed on 8 December 1965. Clearly, the Second Vatican Council did not cause the decline in church identification, neither did Humanae Vitae or other papal encyclicals. Properly interpreted, these documents support social justice and this brings non-Catholics into the church.

CNN ran an article on the church’s decline, and four of their top seven reasons for Catholics leaving the church do tie to conservative politics. These included the church stance on homosexuality (2), Perception church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics (5), Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics (6), the status of women (7).

Jesus does have clear statements about divorce and the affirmative speaker did make very clear how the church’s teaching does not change. The church also has very clear teaching about homosexual behavior.

Look at the context of at least one of those passages, Romans 1:17 through chapter 2. This passage breaks into two parts. In the first part, St. Paul plays the role of the revivalist minister. They do this; they do that; they do the other thing; they know better, so they earn their way to perdition. That is the Romans 1 section. Romans 2:1 begins a new section to the same passage. “You are without excuse, each of you passing judgment. By the standard you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” The rest of the passage excoriates the Romans and us for judging others before we look at ourselves. That is what the rest of Romans is about.

In the debate the affirmative showed election results, also from CNN, showing how the marginalized and the poor, put off by the conservative diatribes, went on to form their own, home based churches. They are now separated from the Eucharist and the Catholic faith. These are the people who voted for the liberals in the past election. As a result, we now have the second two term liberal president in a row, who supports everything our church opposes, but he does support pro-life for them.

As the affirmative pointed out, the solution is not changing Catholic Social Doctrine. The word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The solution does include how we package that faith. The affirmative in the debate related from Psalms 72 and 82, along with the liturgy of the hours, how we need to promote life, as life lived in the image of God for all people.

If we promote life, life lived to its fullest, as our focus, if we promote Vatican II, we can bring these people we chased away back into the church and eliminate the ills we as Catholics, conservative and liberal, so much detest. Until then, conservatives will argue against abortion, while they promote it with their economic programs, and liberals will argue against intrusion in their lives, while they promote that intrusion with their wayward lives. Look forward to 44 more years of the same.

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