Social Doctrine of the Church
I would like some help in identifying the most active, passionate, orthodox American Catholic Bishops currently serving. It is a cultural thing that we seem to love rating everything- not a bad thing- and I have a personal interest in this topic because I want to offer my services to a Bishop who needs someone who gets the following Big Three Realities that I have been focusing on in my last three postings here at American Catholic.
1. The Obama Administration is threat #1 to the continuance of our Hierarchical Catholic Church- here in America and since we are a Superpower in worldly terms this could damage a big chunk of Christendom. I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican. My realization about the Obama threat emerged slowly after being absorbed in a national Catholic Democrats listserve with some of the real heavyweights- like FOB (Friend of Barack) Vicki Kennedy. It was clear to me that Kennedy with her fellow travelers in Catholic universities, and liberal Catholic political organizations, have been intent on much much more than just getting more traction in American policies and legislation for a few political issues often neglected by the conservative-Right. There is blood in the water for the Church Hierarchy due to the notorious Minor Abuse Scandals. These prominent Catholic Dems seem intent on using whatever power they can muster to force changes in the Church to cut the Hierarchydown to size- replace the Teaching Authority with liberal Catholic college professors and liberal political activists who will “save” the Church from irrelevance among the youth. We have seen that President Obama has been systematically assisting in this process- not openly- but consider his choice of Joe Biden as VP with his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs, and Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary who is pushing contraceptives down everyone’s throats, and I suspect we’ll see that Justice Sotomayor is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage eventually. The threat to religious liberties will hit the Catholic Church Hierarchy first, with the contraceptives mandates and then gay marriage will turn the Catholic Church Catechism into Hate Literature and every orthodox Catholic into a bigot along the lines of the old school racists back in the 60′s. No one wants to be a racist- so I’m sure that Vicki Kennedy et al are counting on most American Catholics to simply abandon their Bishops’ leadership and embrace her brand of progressive Catholicism which is Obama-cool. So- me thinks the Bishops need a few folks around who see this danger and are willing to stand with the Bishops and the Catechism. I’m here to help. Here’s a link to my piece on the Catholic Dems/Obama “conspiracy”- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/31/obama-working-willfully-to-undermine-hierarchical-catholic-church/
2. Having this information about the Obama-Catholic Dem elite battleplan is useful- but I am also interested in assisting a good Bishop at the parish level with practical steps- all perfectly legal- for assisting the process of cultivating a new breed of orthodox Catholic political leaders. Pope B teaches us to free ourselves from ideologies in his last encyclical- the social doctrine of the Church is the stuff we need more of in America- the reason we keep swinging wildly from Republican to Democrat in the races for political power is that at the gut level most people get that each Party has got some things right and some things wrong. There is no Party of God- even if right now the mainstream Democratic Party represents the greater threat to the Church/Christ- we are still talking about lesser evils. The Catholic social doctrine is about building civilizations of love- this is the positive vision that is the corrective of narrow ideologies which feed on anger for the most part. The way to bring Christ’s Way into the marketplace of ideas in American political thought and debate is for more fully informed and inspired Catholic voices to emerge and assume the responsibilities of leadership at every level of our society. There is so much that we could do in every parish and school- here is my POA (Plan of Action) which I would love to bring into a parish in a diocese where the Bishop is aware and involved to guide the development- I’m not interested in being a lone ranger or riding against the wishes of the local Bishop. Here’s the Plan- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/10/wanted-orthodox-catholic-political-leaders-time-to-get-serious/
3. Finally, my long experience in the trenches of Catholic high schools has left me with many thoughts on how to inculcate a genuine Catholic identity which has a chance of being transmitted to our very distracted youth. I would love to be part of an orthodox Bishop’s team to help select passionately orthodox Catholic administrators/teachers/staff to be in place to give life witness, along with instructional guidance, to budding disciples of Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have- so if we want Catholic students to come out the other side in love, or more in love with Christ and His Church- then you don’t load up the schools with adults who are full of dissenting views from the Catechetical teachings of the Church. I’m not saying everyone has to be some kind of a stepford-wife cheerleader type of Catholic- we all have our personalities- but if you are an adult working in a Catholic school you should be someone who is thirsty to know what the Church teaches and why- especially if it pertains to your particular discipline or area of responsibility. I get into a lot more detail beyond just the staffing issue in my article below. I am open to returning to the teaching field or entering new territory in administration under the right Bishop in a diocese that really wants to play it straight-up as a passionately Catholic institution -without being satisfied with a PR-level Catholic Identity which produces nice dog and pony shows for visiting bishops and parents- but scratch the surface and where is the love for the Church? If you fall in love with the Church you will just want to know more and more and to share more and more with the youth and everyone you meet- am I right? Here’s the last link- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/04/16/a-vision-of-catholic-education-from-the-front-lines/
OK- if you are still with me- here is how you can help- write out up to 10 names(and email addresses if you have them!) of Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops here in America- with the name of their Diocese. You can order them according to your own rating system. I want to follow the science here and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line- I want to begin a new mission in using whatever talents I possess for the sake of Christ and His Church- I have tried to use these talents to produce something helpful to preserve and protect the Hierarchical nature of our Catholic Church- If Christ didn’t desire a Hierarchy why bother with Apostles- He could have just had disciples with no leadership inherent in the Church- but He didn’t- evidence from Scripture, history and logic all persuaded me in my Truth Quest. I don’t want to just apply for jobs blind to the leadership in a given Diocese. Leadership matters, that’s why leaders get targeted all the time, and why assassinations are so unfortunately common throughout human history. I want a meaningful mission within the Church and short of that I will do whatever I can do to provide for my wife and four young children- this is my story and why I need our Reader’s Input. Brother (Sister) can you spare a moment and share what you know? God Bless you.
My adult conversion to Catholicism came about through many converging spiritual streams, but one of the things I remember that had perhaps, the biggest positive impact, was my introduction to the Papal Social Encyclicals. I was immediately impressed by the non-ideological, Biblically-consistent worldview expressed by the Catholic Magisterium. As my initial conversion led to graduate Theological studies, teaching in Catholic high schools around the world, and a run for Florida State House; I have remained an ardent admirer of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
It is one of my lifetime goals to find ways to promote the social teachings of our Catholic Magisterium, and to find practical ways to cultivate Catholic political leaders who are similarly dedicated to the work of building civilizations of love founded upon the principles of our complete corpus of social doctrine teachings. As a candidate I discovered that most parishes are ill-equipped to nurture future Catholic leaders or even assist in the process of educating and informing the laity of how they can better influence elections on the basis of the many important moral issues (which have specific Magisterial guidance). It is great to pray for Christian Justice in our world, and it is necessary to take up the responsibility of voting when given that opportunity. But grace builds upon nature, and there is so much more that we could be doing as Catholics to better organize ourselves to have more positive collective impact on our communities and American society.
I urge that we work on two fronts simultaneously-1. Educating the Catholic laity to the Catholic social teachings and the guidance given by our Pope and Bishops’ 2. Use our religious freedoms more effectively at the parish level. I often make use of the story of William Wilberforce, a Christian politician who fought tirelessly to stop the slave trade in Great Britain- he was eventually successful utilizing organizational tools which we could use today (as the Civil Rights Movement here in America demonstrated). I hope my practical advice will be of some use for all those interested in maximizing our public Catholic witness in the social (temporal) realm.
Here are some specific practical proposals:
1. Every parish should organize “Social Doctrine Nights” where specific issues are discussed in the context of the social doctrine, as taught in official sources like Papal Encyclicals, the Compendium of Social Doctrine, the Catechism, US Bishop Pastoral Letters, and so forth. The parish priest should be front and center publicizing the Nights from the pulpit and being present for the meetings to put teeth into the promotion.
2. It would also be good if every parish started a “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church book club”. This would help to locate a core group of lay persons who are truly interested in fulfilling their responsibility to the Temporal Order, to reform the world according to Christ’s teachings and will, as revealed by our Church’s authoritative documents. These hardy souls will go far in sharing their knowledge on those Social Doctrine Nights. At the least, we will give the laity many chances to inform their consciences on public policy matters.
3. As the election cycle nears, every parish should start scheduling town hall meetings and Candidate Forum events. Political candidates should be held accountable before the election takes place. They need to go on record with their thoughts on the issues that our parishioners deem important. The only requirement for such forums is that all candidates are invited with no
obvious bias during the event. Town hall meetings should be convened on singular issues of great importance, and local leaders and potential leaders should be invited to participate or attend.
4. Documents from the U.S. Bishops’ Conferences should be distributed widely in every parish. These documents can easily be inserted into every Sunday Bulletin.
5. Questionnaires for candidates from Catholic Conferences and reputable Catholic Pro-Life organizations should be distributed with information on the issues providing the reader with a clear idea of what the official Church is advising/teaching on the political issue being raised. These questionnaire results should be widely distributed well in advance of the actual Election Day.
6. Potential Catholic political leaders need to be groomed and supported by the Church by all legal means. We cannot be hamstrung by laws that seem bent on keeping an artificial (and false) wall of separation between Church and State. Both the Church and State have particular functions in society, they are not the same, but they are not to be pitted against one another. One way to cope with the reality here, in the United States, is to help private Catholic action groups and organizations, to form apart from the official dioceses and Catholic conferences. These private Catholic organizations could form PACS and contribute directly to Catholic individuals who are seeking to serve the common good first and foremost. They should be committed to serving the official Church social doctrine.
7. Catholic schools should also do more to promote the social doctrine among the youth. I once organized a debate for all congressional candidates in the Catholic high school where I was teaching. The students wrote the questions and had a chance to mingle with the candidates afterwards. It was the only such debate for those candidates in the entire election cycle and many students were positively impacted by the experience. Another area of improvement would be in the development of textbooks with a Catholic perspective, and that covered such areas as Literature, History, Media, Social Studies and so forth. The Catholic worldview and social doctrine have been confined to religion classes, and this has contributed to the compartmentalization of Catholic understanding and expression. Catholic students, with rare exceptions, are not graduating and moving the public debate beyond the narrow partisan/ideological confines of Political Left/Right.
I offer these suggestions because I believe that, as Catholics, we have the blueprint for building a civilization of love at every level of human society. The blueprint is our social doctrine and the gift of our Magisterium in guiding the principles and teachings of Christ into our complex world. As a candidate for public office I discovered a huge void in our Catholic parishes for offering a
place of contact between budding political leaders and the Catholic laity. Nurturing orthodox Catholics to become political leaders in our society is something that also seems missing from the average parish. Having a unique Blueprint (our Social Doctrine) but not having sound organization to carry out the plan is a terrible waste of potential. It is time to go from the drawing phase to building and implementing- to make visible this civilization of love our beloved popes write about with such strong conviction. This is our potential, this is an essential part of our Catholic evangelization. There are a lot of Catholic groups and organizations who lobby politicians after the fact of their election, but we should be intervening in the process from the beginning- nurturing leaders, educating every generation of voter, and providing candidate forums and town hall meetings in our churches (all perfectly legal!).
Once again, these strategies involve the following precepts:
- social doctrine promotion
- town hall meetings
- candidate forums
- encouragement of private Catholic PACS
- Catholic youth mentoring
Pope John Paul II insisted that was necessary for Catholics “to seek the Kingdom of God in dealing with temporal realities and in ordering them in accordance with the divine will.” And he urged us to be courageous in giving witness to our faith in the public arena.
Quoting from “Lumen Gentium”, No.36, Pope John Paul II said that lay men and women, after receiving a sound catechesis and continuing formation, have a clear mission “to extend the Kingdom of God in and through their secular activity, so that ‘the world will be imbued with the Spirit of Christ and more effectively attain its purpose in justice, in love and in peace” (No.3). Hence, the faithful need to receive clear instructions on their duties as Christians, and on their obligation to act in accordance with the Church’s authoritative teachings, the Pope added. And to those who object that such instruction has overly political tones John Paul II stated clearly: “While fully respecting the legitimate separation of Church and state in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life” (No.3).