The Michigan Catholic
May 1, 2015
Public relations guru Sam Singer is proud of his reputation as a cynical manipulator. In his world, power always trumps truth. Public opinion is always sweeter than authentic knowledge. Right now, Singer is pitting sacramentalized but unevangelized San Francisco Catholics against their “hateful, intolerant archbishop,” whom he compares with racist Southern governors during Jim Crow.
Singer even circulated a petition among uncatechized Catholics to force the “progressive,” “merciful” Pope Francis to “fire” that “traditionalist,” “obstructionist” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Singer doesn’t care that popes don’t settle these matters by popular referendum. His interest is shaping public perception because perception is the only reality he believes in. For such cynics, lying to the uninformed is a justifiable means to that end.
Here’s one lie: “Cordileone wants to control the private lives of his teachers.” In his handbook revision, teachers must not act, in their professional and public (not their private) lives, to undermine Catholic teachings. Surprised? This is about as uncontroversial as not biting the hand that feeds you.
For Singer’s ilk, however, this is Exhibit A of intolerance. Really? Should candidate Hillary Clinton have been forced to retain a communications spokesperson who told CNN that candidate Obama would make a better president? Of course not. In war, even “culture” war, truth is the first casualty. Unfortunately, Singer is but one professional hired by activists to circulate misinformation about the Church. These tactics of distortion are now daily events.
Most analysts expect the U.S. Supreme Court to permit same-sex so-called marriage. Should we who dissent just shut up? American Catholic leadership doesn’t think so.
Last week, the president and three bishops who lead the USCCB committees overseeing marriage and religious liberty joined Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim and Mormon religious leaders affirming their “commitment to promote and defend marriage — the union of one man and one woman.”
They know that marriage is not, first of all, about politics; it is about culture. Marriage is pre-political. Biblically, Adam and Eve united in marriage before the first government. Marriage is a natural, divinely created institution, not a civil, legislated one. So even if the immediate political battle ends, the cultural necessity of demonstrating authentic marriage remains. If the nations of the earth collapse, the Catholic Church will still teach authentic marriage. In a culture that imagines marriage can be redefined, talking won’t be enough. Catholic husbands and wives must show forth the relationship between Christ and his Church. It is a fruitful love that establishes the social environment to create and nurture new life. The final apologetic for marriage is a gallery of loving, joyful, fruitful homes. “Show, don’t tell,” as the writer’s motto goes.
As one watching this cultural issue for nearly 40 years, our opponents will not rest with a Supreme Court victory. They aim to portray the Catholic Church as hateful and connect those who rejected black persons at lunch counters to those who turn homosexual couples away from church altars.
If American culture retains even a residual respect for the Catholic Church, many will reject same-sex so-called marriage. Those who bear witness to God’s design for marriage will be told that we can’t abide in the same political space. They will talk “diversity” when it suits them, but genuine pluralism, especially moral pluralism, threatens them.
So expect a new wave of anti-Catholicism and “gird up your loins,” which is a biblical phrase that always sounds like “tighten your belt.” It’s closer, however, to “get ready to rumble” than “pull up your tighty-whities.” We rumble not as the world rumbles. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual.
They will ridicule us for what we believe. We must learn to defend our faith with gentleness, respect and with a good conscience.
They will gleefully dangle our real failures out for all to see. We must be ready to admit our sins and correct our failures. We cannot protect the tribe if our own members become enemies of the truth or the common good.
They will claim we have no place at the table of political discussion because we believe in divine revelation. We must remind them that we also believe in human reason and the importance of humanistic debate. We are not here to impose but to propose. We must persuade those around us according to the same rules as everyone else.
They will hold our most vulgar moments out for public shaming. We must remind them that no person or people should be defined by their worst moments, including them. And then gently remind them that it was our Creator and Master who taught the world to see that the worst sinner can be redeemed and the best saint was once such a sinner.
America will be great if America retains the good. But America has no divine promise that it will. The Church does have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. His promise is true, for he has conquered sin and death. We are united to the Resurrected One as a body to a head. Yes, the body often seems a bit uncoordinated, but the union is real. His resurrection power guarantees that final victory.
The Church will be great if she remains united as the bride to her divine bridegroom. Fidelity to Christ, not conformity to the world, forms our path for the future. Lament the passing of Christendom, but get excited about this new apostolic era of evangelization. The 20th century has passed, the first has just been born again.
Al Kresta is president and CEO of Ave Maria Communications in Ann Arbor. His radio program, “Kresta in the Afternoon,” can be heard from 4-6 p.m. daily on 990 AM-WDEO and EWTN.