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Catholic is a Noun

By: Deacon Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC Catholic Online

The “anniversary” of Roe v. Wade has come and gone. Like many who have spent decades in the trenches of this great human rights struggle, I do see signs that the tide is turning.

A editorial entitled “A Tough Roe: Will the Democratic Party be abortion's final victim” by one of my favorite editorialists, Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2003) is a must read.

I agree (as I often do) with Ms. Noonan. The Democratic party has lost its soul and is losing its numbers.

However, my concern is also with the other major party (in fact, any other political party) and the vital role that Catholic citizens (which includes Ms. Noonan) must now play as we approach the next Presidential election. If we are going to help build a “culture of life” and a “civilization of love” we must become the conscience of every party, while not being wrongly contained by or beholden to any of them.

Our adversaries try to marginalize us, accusing us of being “single issue” in our political concern. They are wrong. Abortion is not the only issue we are concerned about. It is the tip of an iceberg. Abortion is, in the words of John Paul II the “cutting edge of the culture of death”

Any time human persons are treated as “products” to be used, aborted, discarded, manipulated…. there we find the “culture of death”. When abortion is finally illegal, we will have much more work to do. This work will involve our action in every segment of human culture as leaven and salt. It will involve the change of hearts and minds.

You see, among all Christians, indeed all people of faith and good will, we Catholics are the ones who will be judged the most severely - if we fail to act. The biblical principle is so applicable here “To those, to whom much is given, much more will be required!” Those of us who bear the name “Catholic” profess that we believe that the “fullness of truth” subsists within our Church. What does that mean?

The extraordinarily prophetic “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et Spes “Joy and Hope”) promulgated in 1965 at the Second Vatican Council has so much to teach us in our present hour. It began with these words:


“1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.

2. Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today.

Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theatre of man's history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfillment.

3. Though mankind is stricken with wonder at its own discoveries and its power, it often raises anxious questions about the current trend of the world, about the place and role of man in the universe, about the meaning of its individual and collective strivings, and about the ultimate destiny of reality and of humanity. Hence, giving witness and voice to the faith of the whole people of God gathered together by Christ, this council can provide no more eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for the entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in conversation about these various problems. The council brings to mankind light kindled from the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her Founder. For the human person deserves to be ...

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