Catholic Culture and the Election of Barack Obama

It is impossible to speak of a “Catholic culture” in America any longer. A whole segment of the populace who call themselves “Catholics” do not feel bound by any standard of Catholic orthodoxy or sanity. In fact, it is impossible even to speak of a Catholic culture in most parishes! At a recent “ministry faire” of a large Catholic parish in south Florida, the Respect Life ministry of the parish displayed its pro-life materials next to the table of the “social justice” committee of the same parish. Any commonality between the two ministries was simply in the space they shared. Their worldviews could not have been further apart, but they both call themselves Catholic.

In fact, the “social justice” people were positively aglow about the election of their new messiah, Barack Obama. Several of them were speaking of their plans to attend the Inauguration and were utterly unaware that there would be 100,000 people marching on the nation’s Capitol two days later for the right to life of unborn Americans which they had just voted into irrelevancy by electing Obama to the highest office of the land. One of them even expressed shock at the provisions of the upcoming Freedom of Choice Act until he was confronted with the nasty little fact that his messiah had been a sponsor of that pernicious bill in the last Congress. True to form, he steadfastly refused to allow that truth to have any effect on his euphoria. His mind was made up, and he would not let himself be confused by facts. Needless to say, the orthodox, practicing, believing Catholic pro-lifers will not be attending the Inauguration.

How can these two groups sit side-by-side in the same pews and display their ministries in the same space at the same Catholic parish? Simply because this contradiction has been tolerated for years by those in charge of our Church. In this election season neither of these two groups received any guidance about voting according to Catholic principles because, as per usual, there was silence from the pulpit on the issue. The absolute failure of our church leaders to define for us what membership in the Church means — and then to enforce it — has led to the degradation of Catholic culture and the loss of meaning for things that are sacred. When Christ and Belial are considered equal partners in the sanctuary, then nothing in the sanctuary means anything any more and no meaningful standard exists to distinguish a true Catholic from a false Catholic.

The degradation of Catholic culture is largely, but not exclusively, the fault of the clergy. For four decades in the Catholic Church in America we have seen:

  1. Liturgical abuses run rampant, aided and abetted by those in charge;
  2. Two or three generations of Catholics left un-catechized or taught with flimsy, Protestantized fluff passed off as Catholic education;
  3. Sexual abuse by clergy excused and unaddressed by the hierarchy;
  4. A blind eye turned to high profile dissent and political class heretics;
  5. Wholesale attacks on sacred teachings that receive virtually no response from our pastors (and if it weren’t for Catholic Answers, EWTN and the Catholic League we would have no defense whatsoever);
  6. The succumbing of our Catholic institutions of higher education to the ravages of political correctness, and the list goes on.

In the face of all this, should we be surprised that 54% of “Catholics” voted for Barack? Hardly.

The battle for Catholic culture begins with us, and there is no time like the present to don the armor of spiritual warfare. We either believe and practice what the Church teaches or we live as part of the shadow church, falsely trading on the name “Catholic” for its benefits without at the same time shouldering the crosses that this entails.

There is, however, great hope for the future because the battle has already been engaged: new Catholic colleges are springing up to replace the old decrepit houses of heresy, new religious orders with abundant vocations and orthodoxy have arisen, home schooling families and strong lay movements are abundant now. Only when we take back our beloved Church from the false Catholics and clerics will our Church be able to stand up and rebuke the storm winds of paganism that are building faster than we care to admit. This project is not without its price, however. The cost of being a true believer will undoubtedly be much higher than ever before in our lifetime. Starting now and into the next generation we as Catholics will have to show the world not only what we believe but that we are willing to lay down our lives for it as a witness to the truth.

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  • Grace Harman

    It all began with accepting “the Pill” (which destroyed innocence for many young people), and the rejection of Humanae Vitae- even within the Church. Those priests, bishops, and political leaders who accepted THAT separation from God’s Truth opened the door to abortion and the “Culture of death”. THEN was when we should have protested! But few listened to that Prophesy or even understood it.
    One can’t bring good from killing innocent life – (except for Jesus’ sacrificial and redemptive death on the Cross). We, as a nation and even our “American” Church have much to answer for – to God. We get the leaders we deserve. Wake up America! Penance!Penance!Penance! Come back to Our Lord and to respect for life and God’s rules for love, purity, and fruitfulness, and beg His forgiveness!

  • CherylDickow

    Many are taking matters into their own hands and working diligently to bring about a new generation that is catechized in the Catholic faith. One such apostolate is http://www.RunwaytoReality.org where a book series has been written for Catholic girls that uses the teachings of JPII’s Theology of the Body and Feminine Genius.

    Since the dogmas of the Church have not been taught clearly or have somehow been seen as “optional” it is becoming critical to teach children in our homes so that as they go out in the world, they will have built their lives on rock and not sand. Jesus said “the rains came.” He never said “IF the rains will come.”

    The rains (and floods and winds and hurricanes) are here.

    If we do not help our children get their houses built upon the rock of God and His word, which is all given to us in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, they [our children] will never withstand what is coming against them.

  • yblegen

    Thank you, Father, for reminding us to remain in the fight, no matter how discouraged we may become at times. As Cheryl said, many of us are “taking matters into our own hands.” When one reads the history of the Church, many times, it seems, that it was a “simple” insignificant person like St. Francis of Assisi who who made a difference. There were many more like him. I honestly believe, with the guidance of the Holy Father, that we, the “simple, insignificant folk” are called by our Savior to bring about a new springtime so that one day we can once again live in a “Catholic Culture.”

  • dlapointe34

    Our parish priests did, to some degree, preached guidance regarding the upcoming election. They were, however, restricted by our Bishop as to what and how much of a particular subject (i.e. abortion) they could preach about. One priest friend of ours told us that he obeyed his Bishop although he would have liked to preach more on some subjects. Father, as you stated in your article, for those whose mind was already made up to support Obama, nothing preached from the pulpit was going to open their hearts to the Truth. God have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  • mrteachersir

    Inb our diocese, it was too little too late. As our Bishop stood up and proudly shouted as loud as he could that abortion is evil and any vote for an unabashed pro-abortion and pro-ESCR candidate is sinful (when there exist alternatives). Sadly, years of silence paid its toll. Our younger priests fought the good fight…but our older ones just let abortion go. It has been 8 years since our pastor has allowed any pro-life literature in our church (there are no anti-life pieces either).

  • Warren Jewell

    How can these two groups sit side-by-side in the same pews and display their ministries in the same space at the same Catholic parish? Simply because this contradiction has been tolerated for years by those in charge of our Church.”

    Thou speakest truth, from your heart, Father, full of the love and respect for human life that few of us can (YET) match.

    Orthodoxy in its pro-life splendor ought to go to the inauguration, and surround the ‘festivities’ in prayer. Maybe, various pro-life groups, by sect and/or location, etc., could give our new President check-like placards that are numbers of pledges of prayer for his administration. Would that God should find us, His humble children, so attending to His glory and His burning plan and desire for our salvation.

  • elkabrikir

    Father, thank you yet again for your holy vocation!

    I left my previous parish of 17 years after an incident which happened immediately following mass in the narthex. A married couple was signing people up for Disciples in Mission (DIM) and insinuated themselves vociferously into a conversation I was having with another parishioner about her Wesley Clark (of “life begins with the mother’s choice infamy) button prominently displayed.

    This couple actually said that nobody should interfere with my right to abort my baby, I was 33 weeks pregnant at the time with my 9th child. “It’s your right. You’d have to live with the consequences, but it’s your right”……and they lead the Middle School youth group?

    The bizarre thing is that they’re weekly adorers at our Perpetual Adoration Chapel.

    The uplifting part of this scene was my 9 year old daughter saying to the “pro choice” woman, “Oh! So you think it’s okay to kill unborn babies?” She repeated herself 3x while the woman protested to the characterization. “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

    Our Church is being purified. I pray that I and many more will be found faithful to the end. “Thank you, Lord Jesus for this opportunity to prove my love for you.”

  • RoodAwakening

    My parish’s pastor and assistants all speak out about the sanctity of life clearly and often from the pulpit; indeed, our pastor was as pointed about the recent election as he could have been without naming names. Nevertheless, many cars in the parking lot still proudly and loudly sported Obama stickers, parked right next to those with pro-life ones.

    The psychological principal in play is that people simply don’t want to be told what to do, and this is what many poorly-formed Catholics perceived was happening. Everyone wants to be his or her own “pope,” after all. A DENVER POST article indicates that many Catholics in that archdiocese DID, indeed, hear what their bishop (and the priests under his authority) had to say, but, rather than trusting him, very deliberately chose to disobey him: http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_10989489.

    We are going to have many, many opportunities for prayer in the next four-to-eight years. May God bless US all, AND have mercy.

  • redwallabbey13

    Like Cheryl has recommended, Little Flowers (www.eccehompress.com) began as a reply to families seeking something deeper than secular groups such as Girl Scouts or encouragement to join Protestant church groups.

    It is now in homes, school and parishes around the world begun by parents who want more. While we may wish we didn’t have to work so hard to keep our faith healthy and relevant we can be grateful we aren’t facing down lions (yet).

  • tomdundee

    Great Editorial.

    I am not sure how the term clergy is defined in this writing, I don’t know if it includes bishops.. The place to begin reinforcing the faith or enforcing the faith is with the bishops. A number of them supported Obama. Where does this leave the parish priest?

    Continuing with those teaching contrary to the Roman Catholic Church, there are many examples going back for many years. Cardinal Sin, of the Philippines, and a gun carrying bishop (I forget his name) who fought alongside the Communists to overthrow the Marcos govt. Marcos had plenty of faults, but even at his worst, he still was better than the Communists. Then the bishop who worked with Ortega of Nicarauga in the 1980s. Father Pflegger, a close associate of Obama; a priest who has turned his pulpit over to Reverend Wright of Obama fame. The 4 Maryknoll sisters killed in El Salvador during the 1980s were running guns for the Communists, a little something that did not get talked about. The list is lengthy, but I will stop here.

    Liberation theology, or the anti-US views of many of the clergy will destroy the Roman Catholic Church. Anti-US views are just another more ‘polite’ term for anti-Western views. The Roman Catholic Church has been at the center of Western Civilization since Peter set up the Papacy in Rome. If the Church goes, so does Western Civilization.

    Wake up.

  • Claire

    Elkabrikir, I’m really impressed that your daughter had the courage and conviction to be so vocal in defense of the unborn at such a young age. I hope that Jeffrey will be the same way.

  • siobhan32

    I am just a tiny speck in the Catholic universe, but each year I teach my CCD class all that is NOT taught from the pulpit, including, but not limited to, mortal sin, saints, scripture, decalogue, credo, sanctifying grace, heaven, hell, purgatory and CATHOLIC PRAYERS in addition to their ‘textbook’ (and I use the term loosely) which we dutifully use. But out of over 500 kids, each year God deigns to grace me with all the ‘holy’ children. Amazing Grace, big time.
    Thank you Father Tom for encapsulating all our ills into one succinct article. It makes it easier to combat. God bless you.

  • noelfitz

    I read:
    he absolute failure of our church leaders to define for us what membership in the Church means — and then to enforce it — has led to the degradation of Catholic culture and the loss of meaning for things that are sacred…The degradation of Catholic culture is largely, but not exclusively, the fault of the clergy.

    In these difficult times Catholics should support priests, bishops and the Pope.

    Negative criticism of the clergy is not building up the people of God.

    God bless,

    NoelFitz.
    _________________________________________________

    In necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.
    _________________________________________________

  • bkeebler

    I am reminded in reading this and the comments: Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    2,000 years and strong, we may endure trials, conflicts, deceptions, persecutions of all sorts… hell in all its fury and seeming accomplishments will be stomped under by Christ and all those that are His. We are His to know the Truth.

  • jmtfh

    Tomdundee–

    Please leave the dead to rest in peace–the 4 nuns who died in Latin America may very well have been running guns (though I do not believe there is clear evidence of this)–but killing them was still a horrendous act.

    We were at the Franciscan University of Steubenville at the time and a dear friend that we met there, had just left the CIA to come to grad school at Franciscan U. He had a wife and four kids–and had been involved there for years. He spoke to us of Communists who had infiltrated the priesthood in Latin America. In my naiveté’ I was shocked and saddened. But the plight of Latin America then and now is way too complicated to reduce it to a few one liners.

    Let’s pray for a true renewal in all of our seminaries and among our priest and religious, as well as among us, the laity!

  • terrygeorge

    It is a sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate when there is a viable pro-life candidate. Our clergy did not do enough to communicate this. i was shocked to here a priest outright state to the congregation that “it is not a sin to vote for any candidate” menawhile I am trying to witness to my family in that parish about the importance of voting pro life. they just asked me, is it a sin to vote for Obama, and said that their bishop had indicated that it was not. how can the laity successfully do our part when we are being undermined by the very people who are suppossed to be our leaders? i feel very strongly that my family members would have voted otherwise with proper formation of cosciences, which they heard talked about but clearly did not receive.

    the bishops spent to much time talking about the exceptions which would allow someone to vote for a pro-abort candidate and not enough explaining why such exceptions did not apply in this election because their conditions were not fulfilled. and the media was all to glad to show only the pro-abortion side of that!

    this is a time when faithful catholics should respectfully yet firmly criticize our clergy

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