I read a brilliant article the other day on http://lifenews.com, by Micaiah Bilger:
It made me think (among other things) what it truly means to be a Catholic. It made me upset that the Catholic church doesn't proclaim this, unapologetically, from pulpit to pulpit to the ends of the earth. It made me disgusted that celebrities/public officials/ can dilute Catholicism and dictate to the Church just what they can or cannot do and still call themselves Catholic. It made me both very happy and sad at the same time; sad, because of the recent events which took place regarding Vice President Biden--and the similar things which repeatedly happen in the world today--prompting this article. I felt happy because these things are being named for what they are--despite probable criticism and with no concern of stature or place in society.
I encourage everyone to read this article in full (as well as Archbishop Charles Chaput's speech). But in a nutshell, Micaiah Bilger was referring to Archbishop Charles Chaput's speech at the University of Notre Dame recently where he was a guest speaker. The Archbishop spoke about the coming presidential election, about "sex, family and the liberty of the Church", and also strongly reprimanded the university for awarding Vice President Biden with the Laetare Medal, “the oldest and most prestigious honor accorded to American Catholics.” It is this topic that inspired me to write this entry today.
Vice President Biden is a public figure. He is a public figure who calls himself "a practicing Catholic".* Yet he is pro-abortion and has even officiated at a civil gay marriage ceremony. I don't know Vice President Biden, and he may be a very nice person, one who has sacrificed much for his children and family, and may have done some good things in his life; but being a champion of the things he espouses and supports which are in direct opposition to Catholicism and in every way a slap in the face to the very church/faith he says he cherishes, is very noxious, let alone confusing and misleading, to Catholics and most especially those who are learning the faith or know nothing of Catholicism.
Micaiah Bilger makes some wonderful points in his article, and quotes Archbishop Chaput on abortion and "irresponsible" sexual attitudes:
“The truth about our sexuality is that infidelity, promiscuity, sexual confusion and mass pornography create human wreckage.”...What you get is what we have now: a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems...As families and religious faith break down, the power of the state grows. Government fills in the spaces left behind by mediating institutions. The individual is freed from his traditional obligations. But he inherits a harder master in the state. Left to itself...democracy tends toward a kind of soft totalitarianism in which even a person’s most intimate concerns, from his sexual relations to his religious convictions, are swallowed by the political process."
These are things we should be hearing from pulpits and podiums in church and everywhere when one speaks about the Church and about Catholics specifically. It is what our children need to be taught, without apology or embarrassment. What respected Catholic institutions should not be doing is awarding public officials who embrace an entirely opposing belief. Catholicism is not religion--it is a way of life based fully on the teachings of Jesus Christ. One cannot pick and choose to which practice he will adhere, as if in a cafeteria.
For a Catholic university, especially such a highly regarded and respected institution such as Notre Dame, to honor a Catholic who publicly witnesses against his faith by his words and actions, with this prestigious American Catholic award is confusing, absurd, incredulous and inexcusable. Disappointing? Yes. Sad? Absolutely.
Monica E. Smith
Monica E. Smith