Catholics Should Be…Catholics
An essay on the Pope's message to the US Catholic Church
By Alejandro Bermudez
APRIL 18, 2008 (http://thepope.blogs.nytimes.com) - Pope Benedict’s speech to the U.S. was long and covered almost every base, including the always thorny issue of sex abuse.
But in a nutshell, the Pope called on the bishops — and non-bishops as well — to roll up their sleeves and become, well, truly Catholics. (Watch the video here)
No offense here. There is a lot of sociology and history to write about American Catholics and how they migrated from the ghettos to becoming part of mainstream society, some of them losing much of their identity in the process.
But whatever the reasons were for this “blending” into American culture, the Pope is calling on the bishops to rediscover the urge to become providers of the uniqueness of their faith, with no pride, but with no shame either.
Just take a look at this phrase: “Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs?”
Or this one: “We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task — not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well.”
Benedict has warned the bishops in particular, but also Catholics in general, that when Catholics do not internalize their identity and express it in the public square, “faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain beliefs ‘out there’ are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living ‘as if God did not exist.’” In other words, that new growing breed of “Agnostic Catholics.”
You want an example? Here comes Benedict again: “We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion.”
Again: today’s speech to the bishops, including the Q&A that followed, covered many bases. But it was a well-crafted, finely honed argument that inevitably leads to a demanding conclusion: “What is needed, above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing.”
The ball is now in the bishops’ court.
WATCH THE VIDEOS: