Now What?

The post-election landscape is at the same time a garden of hope or a scorched earth, depending on a sensibility of merged Catholic outlooks.

The presidential candidates have been gracious at campaign’s end, a leadership worthy of emulation. Indeed, if Catholics are to have a serious hope of repairing their own wounded communities, that approach, hardly a quiet one, will need to be attempted.

When Matthew recounts Jesus sending the Twelve, he quotes:

I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves …

The disciples were not sent to build political majorities to bend a world to the Father’s will. They were sent as seeds and as leaven to start something they had no hope of finishing. More than that, many of them didn’t see past the short-term. How many of them, really, would imagine that within two generations the Gospel would be spread from India to Spain?

This is why the ends do not justify the means. God has a deeper view of human history and our job is to be faithful to all the basic principles, not just the number one on the list, or to just our favorites.

I was still feeling wired from yesterday’s experience at 5AM when I rolled out of bed, unable to get back to sleep. So I took a hint to take a stab at what post-election life might hold in terms of some oipportunities.

What could the flip side of Matthew 10:16:

… so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

… look like for us? Some quick thoughts:

Blogging is not enough. A few bloggers are outstanding writers, and rather than wait for the world (and our cadres of like-thinkers) to come to us, perhaps we could put pen to paper more often in communicating with people who don’t surf to our sites daily. Now if I can only find that pack of stationery I packed away last June …

Pastors could give their parishioners a few weeks of breathing room. December wouldn’t be too early to gather a panel to discuss parish apostolates for writing letters, a committee to take a five to ten percent slice off the parish income to send to Birthright, a speaker or two on adoption information. Real pro-life pastors and real pro-life parishes will keep at it even if only a few people show up. Jesus found two a sufficient number for an important mission. If we in parish ministry think a full hall is needed to notch a success, then maybe we’re in it more for the glam, not so much the glory of God.

I think it’s time for bishops to lead less from the front on political issues. Ever since Cardinal O’Connor refused boarding in the same hotel as his brother bishops, the Catholic episcopacy has been caught up in grandstanding. Politics and government are the realm of the laity. It should go without saying that human conduct may be sinful or not. What bishops can do more effectively is promote the lay apostolate and steer a more effective witness. Merging pro-life and peace & justice efforts would be a start, preferably with a pastor’s guiding hand. Building the pro-life witness by including better promotion efforts for adopting would help. Big deals are made of the annual Red Masses held in dioceses around the country, especially the one in Washington. What about Masses for medical caregivers? Pro-life advocates? Parents of adopted children? Most bishops need a new outlook, and looking to these groups who are possibly more in need of a spiritual pep talk would be a start. More thoughtfulness and innovation, please, from the bishops.

I’ve been thinking I’ve let my pro-life cred sag. Adoption is a serious enough issue that I could be blogging weekly or more often on it. It doesn’t have to be big or involved. Just a few suggestions and observations.

While on that thread, my web site could use some tightening up and writing discipline.  A couple of thousand posts on Vatican II and post-conciliar liturgy has been a good start. I can keep up a near-daily stream of this for years. A designated day each week could also be devoted to important topics like peacemaking or adoption or reconciliation. Neil has been a fantastic addition to this site, and other writers, perhaps those unwilling to strike out on their own blogs, could be included when my voice is inadequate for the job. If you have a proposal, e-mail me or call me and we can chat about it.

Today is the first day of an era of new opportunity. Of course, I’d say that about any day. But there’s nothing wrong with saying it about today, even if one sees it as a cloudy and dreary overcast. But a luminous inner life is independent of what’s happening on the outside. Not dependent on success, failure, or the perception of either, it is based on Christ.

What do you say?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Ministry, Politics, The Blogosphere. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Now What?

  1. Would you be interested in doing some sort of project with me to send a letter to Obama, congratulating him for his win, but also reminding him of the things he said to pro-lifers: that he is willing to work with us, that he is willing to help limit late term abortion, et. al., as a way to indicate to him to reconsider FOCA and to make it a national discussion, not legislative fiat?

    I agree, speaking on blogs is not enough. And I think the time is ripe for this kind of dialogue — we need to press on it now before some others do without charity.

  2. David B says:

    I think FOCA will be key. If he was being honest when speaking to pro-lifers, he won’t sign it into law. If he was telling the truth to Planned Parenthood, signing it will be the first thing he does as president. If he signs FOCA, it eliminates all limitations on abortion. Therefore, his saying he would work with us to limit ANYTHING would be a lie, because FOCA becoming law would prevent any restrictions. Time will tell. Perhaps, very soon.

  3. Todd says:

    He said yesterday if some economic stimulus isn’t passed by inauguration, it will be his first priority.

    The “fact” of his FOCA promise has been assumed in conservative circles, but come to think of it, I have yet to see documentation on it. Considering how gossip is magnified on the net, I wonder if the whole thing is a myth.

  4. Liam says:


    That’s easy to remedy:

    That said, there is zip that says that Obama need honor that pledge given what’s happened in the interim.

    People to write would include Harry Reid (a prolife Mormon who is running for a tight reelection in 2010) and Joe Biden.

    Not in an accusatory way (telling strangers who might be susceptible to persuasion that they are formally cooperating in intrinsic evil works better in person than by letter or, worse, broadcast), but to invoke progressive principles – not only the right to life of the most vulnerable but also the conscience rights of those who would lose such under FOCA and the principles of federalism, et cet.

  5. Todd says:

    I’m not surprised of candidate Obama’s support for FOCA, but I did see much concern about that being his “first” act as president. I must have missed it in this link. If I haven’t, I wonder if that is part of the problem: exaggeration of the truth to the point that allies in the pro-life effort drain our instincts to trust them.

    For the record, Henry and I have exchanged e-mails and I hope to join him and others to write that letter in an attempt to steer our president-elect to consider the alternatives to what he may be considering.

  6. John Heavrin says:

    Obama’s promise is easily found on Google, Todd. Took about ten seconds. He’s quite a facile and slippery guy, but he didn’t leave himself a lot of wiggle room on this one:

    Obama answering a question from an audience member after his speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007:

    “Dessa Cosma: Um, as you were talking about earlier, the recent Bush Supreme Court’s decision really took away critically important decisions from women and put them in the hands of politicians. And as a result of this, we’re expecting, and have already seen, so much anti-choice legislation at the state level. Um, what would you do at the federal level not only to ensure access to abortion but to make sure that the judicial nominees that you will inevitably be able to pick are true to the core tenets of Roe v. Wade?

    Barack Obama: Well, the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. [Applause.] That’s the first thing that I’d do.”



    The recession and credit crisis, and the various efforts and commitments of the Federal government to mitigate it make it much more, not less, likely that Obama will indeed make signing FOCA an immediate priority, as promised. Because his economic promises — tax increases (or even the cuts he’s promised), universal healthcare to name two — will be delayed if not simply broken due to subsequent exigencies. Therefore the pressure from the left to keep his promise to remove all restrictions from abortion-on-demand in all 50 states by signing FOCA will be all the greater.

    Obama is not Clinton with his famous “safe, legal, and rare” locution. Obama ran on removing all restrictions on abortion and he won. His supporters will demand that he deliver, and he’s probably eager to do so. Short of a miracle, there won’t be any compromises from Obama on removing all restrictions on abortion as soon as he can.

    I’m praying for that miracle, but I’m predicting that Kmiec et al will be ignored by Obama and FOCA will be the law of the land sometime in the first weeks of the Obama Administration.

    He also has promised to support repeal of the Hyde Amendment, the effect of which will be that anyone who pays federal income tax will be paying for abortions via Medicaid. I suppose that will make all of us formal cooperators in intrinsic evil, as if we were writing the checks ourselves down at the abortion clinic. Of course, this repeal, and FOCA, require an agreeable Congress. But he has that, and they will probably be eager to help him keep his promises in this area. There are other restrictions on abortion that are in place via executive order, thus can be revoked by excutive order, and probably will be literally on Jan. 20, 2009, right after the Inaugural Parade.

    I find it inexpressibly sad and frankly nauseating that all of this was made possible and imminent by millions of voters who identify themselves as Catholic. Good manners suggest that hearty congratulations on their victory should be offered to these voters, but I find myself unable to do so.

    To those Catholic Obama supporters who will undertake the quixotic task of trying to convince him to disappoint FOCA, etc. supporters I say: best of luck.

  7. Todd says:

    Thanks for the information, John. Unfortunately, American taxpayers have indirectly cooperated in abortions here and overseas through tax dollars.

    As I wasn’t running for elective office and neither were most Catholic voters, I’m not sure the victory is ours to claim. Given the state of the nation, I’d say there’s about as much work to do as there was last week.

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