Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma has offered what may be the most wholesome response to the HHS mandate which violates religious liberty. I kept checking his website, knowing he would release something in due time, and he did not disappoint. In his statement, he also discusses the immorality of the services and drugs at the heart of this issue. Not many Catholics hear this from the pulpit. You can find text for this video at the Diocese of Tulsa.
My Commentary: Bishops Need to Change Something
Let me preface this by saying that I agree with the many who say this is not about contraception, but about religious liberty. Hold that thought a moment....
A thought came to me as I listened to Bishop Slattery that something is seriously backwards - not with the Bishop's words, which were great and wholesome. It was the thought that Catholics are not learning why contraception is considered objectively evil - from the pulpits; rather, they have to stumble on Catholic TV, radio, and internet to find those discussions. Potential converts sitting in RCIA classes are also taking to the internet to discuss the truth. In many cases I've seen online, these folks know more about Catholicism and it's teachings on sexual morality than those charged with their instruction! Still worse, many more Catholics get malformed by the secular media which distorts the authentic teachings of the Church and reduces some important issue to a catchy soundbite, often advancing an irreligious, secularist agenda (and it is why I believe bishops need to get themselves in the secular news more).
Why are Catholics learning more from those sources above (for good, or for evil) than from the pulpits in their parishes and from the office of bishop in their diocese?
Let's face it, the New Evangelization is suppose to involve lay people and lay-led organizations. No problem there. But, it should be accompanying teachings that are equal or greater in strength coming from the bishops' offices and priests' pulpits. The lay-led arm of the New Evangelization (NE) cannot be a replacement which frees-up bishops and priests to talk about the comforting things; rather, NE should augment and support what they teach. For the last 40+ years, there has been a vacuum. That vacuum is going to work against the bishops and their efforts to fight the assault on our religious liberty. This needs to change, and it needs to change fast.
There has been a deafening silence from the pulpit for as long as I can remember. I could go to Mass 52 Sundays out of the year in any number of local parishes and never hear a word about abortion, contraception cohabitation, or other topics involving sexual morality. I can tell you when I first heard about these things was soon after joining Assumption Grotto in 2005. I wasn't offended at hearing the truth; I wanted to learn more and for God's sake, as well as my own, I decided to keep an open mind. Today, I am aware of a small network of parishes in metro Detroit where these things are taught and they are usually, but not always, led by younger priests who are more concerned with the salvation of souls than with preservation of people's self-esteem.
Even Jesus would be reassigned by some bishops or priest-assignment-boards these days for making people uncomfortable, no matter how nicely something is taught. In fact, withholding certain, uncomfortable truths at the pulpit is a way of reassigning Jesus himself.
Why should people who go to Mass every Sunday have to learn from a lay person or online forum that their contraceptive pill is actually an abortifacient which does not allow a fertilized egg, carrying an ensouled person, to attach itself to the uterine wall? It is not preventing conception, but permitting it, then flushing that new life, authored by God, down the toilet. This is one chief reason the Church considers the use of such pills, gravely sinful. Humanae Vitae has been out for over 40 years now. In many parishes, in many dioceses, you wouldn't even know it existed. It's time this generation of bishops start teaching and encourage their priests to do the same. In fact, it is those priests who do teach about it who should be assigned to the large, prime parishes, not those afraid of the white martyrdom needed for the task.
Back to that thought I said to hold: The bishops need to take a wholesome approach to this problem. They need to go after the religious liberty issue while simultaneously teaching about sexual morality, especially, "the why". They might start with the 10 Commandments because there are a good many Catholics who believe that the New Testament and Vatican II did away with them. This may explain why cohabitation, fornication, and adultery are probably at an all time high (and those things lead to contraception, abortion, and very likely - a dismissive attitude towards the bishops' beef with the Obama Administration over religious liberty).
Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:7-8)
One more thing: Pray for bishops and priests
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