Over the past few months, I have had several conversations with Catholic Priests and Protestant Ministers, and several Religious Catholic Sisters about the lack of support amongst the clergy and the institutions of “The Church” for support of fundamental Christian Principles specifically about RIGHT TO LIFE issues like the rights of the Unborn Child, end of life issues, and the right to self-protection.
During my discussions, a very wise lady pointed out to me that over the past 50 years the moral authority of the church has been eroded by progressive forces in academia, the media, and politics. That is not to say that there have not been “self-inflicted wounds” within the religious communities, but context and perspective have been severely lacking when we look at the whole picture of where we are as a society. Less than 1% of Catholic Priests have been involved in sexual crimes, but it now requires great courage for priests to wear their Roman collars in public. As one priest said to me recently it used to be that we would wear our Roman collars to allow people to think about God when they saw us in public even though they may not believe. Now they don’t think about God but think of the Catholic Church sex scandals and whether we as a priest are part of it. The fact of the matter is that more elementary school male teachers and more pediatricians have acted on their sexual proclivities than Catholic Priests. But the point of the angry criticism against the church and the priests has been to reduce their moral authority, and the moral certitude of their positions.
One of the definitions of moral integrity is doing the right thing when nobody else is watching. Any young person who is introduced to the rules of golf learns this from day one. When doing wrong is incentivized and doing the right can hurt you individually, true moral integrity is revealed. THE CHURCH has rightfully been confronted about its own hypocrisy and moral integrity, but it is time for the 99% to stand up and reassert their own individual moral certitude—let the bishops and church hierarchy defend their past actions in civil and criminal proceedings. Guilt by association is calumny and slanderous.
What has changed in our world over the past 50 years has been cultural. We as a culture and a society do not value human life as we once did. The predicate grounded in Biblical teachings is no longer the bases for our actions and political and philosophical thinking. Pornography, the degradation of women by trying to make them men and not respecting their unique feminine natures, certainly Mary would be a model for modern day feminine virtue, are issues not being challenged forcefully enough. Violence in video games, violent movies, lude lyrics in popular songs are the result of a loss of respect for moral authority and a moral hierarchy. Fully one-third of all children live in a home where one parent is missing. Role models for children are being replaced by government programs that indoctrinate kids with secular values. When and where do children learn how to pray and who teaches them? What kind of books do they read? Who are their heroes? Virtues exist for “the common good” and are applied to the impersonal group. Personal conversations are replaced with Facebook Chats and TWEETS. Eye contact is a lost art.
Everyone is imperfect. We are all sinners, especially me. There is only One who has walked the earth that was and is perfect. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all strive to be perfect. Jesus opined to Mathew after presenting the “Beatitudes” that He was setting the bar high. We should aspire to always be reaching for the high bar, not crawling over the low bar. Our values, our hopes, our morals and how we relate to each other should be based on ideals, and not succumb to the “great average of consensus”.
We are at a very vulnerable time in our country, and I firmly believe we need leaders who will set the bar high. We need a Great Awakening. Last weekend Governor DeSantis invoked his faith and moral certitude in defining what was needed for us as a people to move forward individually and as a country. The vision like those invoked by Ronald Regan and even John Kennedy was a message of industry and self-reliance, of an acknowledgment of our inadequacies and limitations and a belief and hope for our future grounded in our faith in God. Remember “Ask not what your country can do for you…”?
We need leaders who will offer civil and moral direction. We need those leaders to join with institutions like our churches to help us move forward to another GREAT AWAKENING. We need protestant ministers, Catholic Priests, and Bishops, to join the fight. We know institutional sin cannot be visited on the great majority of the faithful. To the 99% who feel that they lack the “moral certitude” to act, you need to act. Nobody is perfect, but by not acting the bar is lowered for everyone. Time for all people of faith to join the fight.