Talking with my husband over some shrimp fried rice (it was a Friday and it’s Lent…), we were discussing politicians and public figures — people such as Nancy Pelosi, NY governor Andrew Cuomo, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are Catholic, publicly wear ashes on Ash Wednesday, write articles for America Magazine, and say they do what they do in part because of their faith (remember the time Pelosi called abortion rights “sacred ground”…?).
I can think of half a dozen other Catholic politicians who point to their faith as at least a small reason for what they do in public life. But is it really? It gets confusing when certain politicians cling to Catholicism and quote the Catechism when it comes to social justice issues, the poor, healthcare, etc. but yet they advocate very vociferously and proudly for causes and issues that are diametrically opposed to Church teaching.
I’m not here to judge their souls, nor do I want to. But “by their fruits ye shall know them” and in their position as public servants, public personalities, their actions speak a particular volume and from the outside, when this happens it looks an awful lot like scandal and like they’re using Christ as a prop for their own agendas.
All or Nothing
The social justice side of Catholicism is important and we should of course strive to do precisely what the Church teaches in these areas. But social justice is NOT the only aspect of Catholicism worth discussing in America in 2019 or worth promoting from a public office. And if one is going to wear the Catholic label, call themselves a Catholic and make a rather large deal out of being one, it’s all or nothing. You embrace ALL the truths of the faith or none at all, not just the ones that are convenient for you.
The Eucharist. The dignity of life at ALL stages. The actual definition of marriage. Sexual morality and sexual ethics. The concept and reality of sin. The sacrament of confession. And everything else. All of it.
It’s a scandal and a lie to claim to be at least halfway influenced by your Catholic faith in terms of social justice but to completely disregard other parts of the faith that are unpopular or don’t fit the image or the platform you’re trying to promote.
Few things are as disheartening as social justice warriors using Jesus as some sort of mascot for economic systems and social programs that do nothing to lift people out of poverty. It’s as if politicians claim to be the saviors of the poor by pointing to Jesus as the first one who came to liberate the poor.
Christ Didn’t Come to Liberate the Poor
News flash, Jesus didn’t come to “liberate” the poor and the oppressed from economic oppression. Many people of His time certainly thought that’s the sort of Savior and King He was. But we know it to be true that He came to liberate SOULS from the poverty and oppression of sin. The former is liberation theology and it is a Marxist perversion of the Gospel.
From Catholic Answers:
“Authentic Christianity declares that Jesus Christ died for sin and offers us new life through grace. Liberation theology has a tendency to focus on reforming unjust earthly systems with only secondary regard for the sins of the individuals involved. While it is certainly praiseworthy and holy to commit one’s life to opposing injustice, we need to remember that Jesus died so that we might have eternal life not just better access to social programs. What good are all the social programs in the world if we are still slaves to sin? And how can those social programs not be abused by those who control them if they are still ruled by original sin?”
Stop using the Lord in this way and spurning what He and His Church teach in the rest of the Gospel and Catechism. Christ is not a prop for any political agenda.
Perhaps it’s just because I am a convert and I came to the Church accepting the fact that I do not know everything — that the Church reveals the truth and that even if I am made uncomfortable by those truths or feel disagreeable toward them, they are still the truth.
This goes for both politicians and clergy and laity who call themselves Catholic yet pick and choose which parts of the faith they’re going to follow and promote, while ignoring or even advocating the polar opposite of other parts of the faith. If you don’t profess ALL parts of the Catholic faith to be true, then why continue to be Catholic?
Examining My Own Conscience
This is something the rest of us can keep in mind in our own lives and one that I try to examine before confession or simply when I’m examining my own conscience. At the Easter Vigil in 2014 when I became Catholic, I said before the Church community, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”
I meant it then with every fiber of my being. Do I act like it now? Do I act publicly and privately in a way that clearly indicates that I DO believe and profess ALL that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God?
Not just the parts that are comfortable and easy and agreeable to me, but ALL of it — the difficult parts included, too.
If not — if there is some area that I’m not mirroring my belief in Christ, His Church, and all the truths of the faith in the way that I speak or act — then it’s not Church teaching that needs to change. It’s not the truths revealed by God and taught and proclaimed by the Church that need to change. It’s me.
// featured photo credit: sarah hinds coffey, 2013