Reading the title of this post, people may assume that I am about to write about the Church’s sex abuse scandals. At school and back at home, my circle of friends consists mostly of serious Catholics who are also near my age (18). The abuse scandal, I assure you, is the least of our concerns and the last thing that drives a wedge between us and the Church. What does bother us is not the making of a few disturbed priests and duplicitous Bishops. We are unsure of if what we see is the pronouncements of a loud minority, or the Church reflecting what seem to be current shifts in the attitudes of Americans in general. What I am talking about is a politicization of the Church in the same manner that has undermined American Protestant evangelist churches. I see, sadly, more and more Catholics who seem to be more concerned about the words of the President or some other politician than the words of our Lord.
The Cardinal Newman Society tasks itself with keeping track of speakers at commencement ceremonies that do not fully adhere to Catholic teachings. This year, the Society proudly announced that 95% of speakers were sufficiently Catholic to warrant the Society’s approval (after the fact) as speakers. The absurdity of the fact that they actually keep track of this notwithstanding, the most famous example of the politicization of the Church, and commencement addresses came last year at my University, when President Barack Obama spoke at our commencement. The President did not speak of abortion or any other matter that even came close to co-mingling with Church teaching. He spoke to the graduates of their future and the nation’s future. But the fact that he supports abortion apparently means that Catholic institutions should act as though he doesn’t exist, even those that have a history of inviting Presidents to speak. Those offended by the invitation have dishonestly tried to use arguments about ceremonial honors (which are bestowed on virtually all speakers at graduations) as a rationale. Many also claimed that the lack of opportunity for a dialogue is the problem, but many also have used the exact opposite argument in their objections. What is left is petty, partisan politics. These objectors simply do not like the President so they, disgustingly, decided to hijack graduation, a day that was supposed to belong to our Class of 2009, to score political points.
You are going to lose us if you keep this up. I mean you, the laity who seek to use our Church in this manner and the Bishops who give their consent. We will never leave Christ and we will never leave Peter, but we will leave you. We are not asking the Church to change for us, we are telling you to stop using the Church as a proxy for a political party. Speak up about Church teaching on abortion, but do not presume to think we are so stupid as to think that watching the President speak at graduation will cause us to magically become “pro-choice.” Stop the arrogance, stop the rhetoric, and give us some respect. Your intellectual dishonesty is blatant, your attempts to claim that you are merely upholding Church teaching are self-serving. Leave the partisan politics out of our Church, and out of our school.