An article by Tom Bethell at New Oxford Review highlights the war between the culture of today and the Catholic Church. The HHS mandate has brought this war into sharp relief. Other Christian communities have caved into every feature of the sexual revolution; they support not only contraception and sterilization, but abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy. A very timely example of this is the just-formed coalition of Planned Parenthood and “Clergy for Choice” in launching a 40-day prayer campaign for abortion, in opposition to “40 days for life” prayer campaigns supported by Evangelicals and Catholics.
The HHS mandate is but an example of how the proponents of the sexual revolution have redoubled their attack on the Church. I might add that the Catholic Church is not alone in this war; though most mainline Christian communions now eagerly support every aspect of the sexual revolution, most of our Evangelical brethren stand with us.
Unfortunately, many Catholics (and Catholic institutions) have also conformed themselves to the culture. The Obama administration has skillfully exploited the division among Catholics, playing one side against the other, and announcing the Catholics that support the HHS mandate and supposed “accommodation” as representative of all Catholics.
Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, USCCB president from 2007-2010, commented, “This is the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential administration has purposely tried to interfere in the internal working of the Catholic Church, playing one group off against another for political gain.”
Bethell reviews the state of the Church in America today, and how we got where we are. In conclusion, he contrasts the views of our two most recent Popes on the immediate future of the Church in the face of these challenges:
In interviews with the Pope while he was Cardinal Ratzinger, published in Salt of the Earth, Peter Seewald mentioned John Paul II’s expectation for the new millennium: “We shall see that the tears of this century,” the late Pontiff said, “have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.”
Ratzinger responded that John Paul’s “whole ecumenical effort stands in this historical-philosophical perspective.” That was in 1996. Ratzinger’s view was quite different. He expected the Church to become “more a minority Church; she will live in small vital circles of really convinced believers who live the faith.” Which was how the Church began, of course.
We might ask ourselves, do we conform ourselves to the culture, or do we conform ourselves to Christ? The former is certainly easier.