Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Rev. Dwight Longenecker

11/22/2008 (6 years ago)

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

As America descends further into decadence and decline, the lines will be drawn between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.

Highlights

By Rev. Dwight Longenecker

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

11/22/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


GREENVILLE, S.C. (Inside Catholic) - Last week, we at St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina, found ourselves in the midst of a perfect media storm. The Sunday after the election, Rev. Jay Scott Newman, the parish rector (I serve as a weekend assistant), published his usual column for the parish bulletin, in which he commented on the election of Barack Obama.

Offering patriotic support and prayers for the president-elect, but also lamenting his radical pro-abortion policy, Father Newman told his parishioners:"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law." He concluded that, if they voted for Obama, they ought to go to confession before coming to Communion.

Perhaps Father Newman's statement could have been more nuanced. He could have clarified the matter by adding that, for it to be a serious sin, the Catholic needed to be fully knowledgeable about the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion and Senator Obama's voting record on the issue. However, this was not a pontifical statement written for the instruction of all Catholics in America; it was a bulletin column in a parish where there has been steady and consistent catechesis on the whole range of Catholic issues, including abortion.

By Monday, the local newspaper picked up the story. Father Newman was careful to ask for written questions and gave written replies, making it very clear that he could not and would not deny Communion to anyone. Nevertheless, by Wednesday the Associated Press ran the story with the headline, "SC priest: No Communion for Obama supporters." Most of the major news outlets picked up the story, and the parish was swamped with responses from across America. In the face of these distortions, Father Newman produced two documents that clarified matters.

By Friday, the Diocese of Charleston issued a statement that was taken badly by supporters of Father Newman, and over the weekend rumors ran riot about protests planned for our parish by busloads of Obama supporters. When the parish Web site crashed due to the number of visitors, parishioners concluded that the diocese had gagged Father Newman and pulled the plug on his site. (Coincidentally, my own Web site was down for servicing on the same Saturday, and before long whispers went around that I had also been gagged by the diocese and had my site pulled. None of it was true.)

What is true is that Father Newman received more than 5,000 e-mails within a few days. When the parish webmaster finally removed Father Newman's e-mail address from the Web site for his own protection and peace, e-mailers contacted me instead. I received nearly 500 replies. What interests me about the feedback from the fracas is what it says about American Catholics and American culture generally.

The mail we received can be put into four categories: Loyal, Lame, Defiant, and Demonic.

Addressing the worst, first: A small number of e-mails were spitting with irrational rage, profanity, and vulgarity. We were called pedophiles, rapists, and insane perverts. Some went on to blaspheme in the most extreme terms against the Holy Father, the Blessed Virgin, and anything sacred they could think of. These e-mails were so brimming with brimstone that they were obviously from a demented or demonized person. These I deleted with a prayer for protection and deliverance.

Those e-mails I classified as "defiant" were angry and vociferous. We were idiots and bigots. Didn't we know it was priests like us who drive people away from the Church? The writers rarely defended Obama but usually attacked Bush and McCain, assuming that Father Newman and I are ardent Republicans. The usual theme was that poverty and war were as bad as abortion, and why did we never discuss these other matters? The Catholic Church was attacked and smeared, and in most cases the writer finally revealed that he was a lapsed Catholic.

The third category I call "lame." These e-mails had little to do with Father Newman's original bulletin column, but were simply emotional responses to the misleading AP headline. They were mostly sentimental, uninformed, and rambling. Some accused us of being nasty, judgmental, and intolerant. Others accused us of hating animals and the environment and not believing in global warming. And still others worried that we were fomenting racial hatred and hoped we would mend our ways. They were mostly from souls with a particular agenda who would direct their sad anger and fear toward anyone who grabbed their attention in a news headline.

The fourth category of e-mail was from loyal supporters. Heartening e-mails from all around the country poured in expressing solidarity, support, and sympathy. Converts told how priests like Father Newman and me gave them hope and drew them to the Catholic Faith. College students and old people wrote saying that they were encouraged in their faith and were determined to renew their pro-life fight because of Father Newman's letter. Priests and religious wrote thanking us for our stand and telling us to fight the good fight. Loyal, informed, and dedicated Catholics wrote simply to express their thanks and goodwill.

The thousands of e-mails we received reveal four American responses to full-fledged, red-blooded Catholicism.

The demonic were understandable: The devil will be a gentle dog as long as you feed him, but if you kick him, he bites back. The lame are those who are largely ignorant of the Catholic Faith, and can best be helped with prayer.

But the "defiant" category makes up the largest number of our respondents, and is the saddest category of all. Statistics show us that these are the Catholics who sealed Obama's victory. They are people who were poorly catechized over the last 40 years in America. They have been nurtured in the Protest Generation and told that it is fine, even noble, to disagree with the Church. They have been taught to act according to their conscience without taking the trouble or time to inform it.

Caught up in the trendy agendas of the day, they have jumped on the bandwagons of feminism, environmentalism, homosexualism, socialism, and sentimentalism -- mistaking their favorite cause for the Catholic Faith. When they are confronted with clear, concise, and consistent Catholicism they are shocked and angry, and their response is (if they haven't done so already) to leave the Church, preferring their own wisdom to the wisdom of God.

In the next 20 years, this sort of Catholic will become extinct. As America descends further into decadence and decline, the lines will be drawn between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. People will have to choose whether to serve God and His Church or the dark side. Catholics will have to choose to be fully committed or not. If they choose to be Catholic, let them be informed and involved and integrated. If they choose to leave the Church, then they should be honest and stop referring to themselves as Catholic.

If those in my "defiant" category are Catholics at all, then what kind of Catholics are they? We have heard the terms "cultural Catholic" and "cafeteria Catholic," but they might as well be called "chameleon Catholics" -- not only because they change color with every new trend of thought, but because there is something reptilian about them.



Rev. Dwight Longenecker is chaplain of St. Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his Web site at www.dwightlongenecker.com.

---

The mission of InsideCatholic.com is to be a voice for authentic Catholicism in the public square.We believe that truth is both attractive and compelling and that in the marketplace of ideas, it will invariably win out.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

House of Representatives may subpoena Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server Watch

Image of Asked to evaluate Clinton's chances of being elected the next president of the United States, Boehner said Hillary Clinton could be a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The House of Representatives may subpoena Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server if she does not voluntarily surrender it for examination by an independent party, John Boehner revealed this week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I've not made any decisions ... continue reading


Eating at the government's table: 353,000 refugees on food stamps, 55,000 receiving SSI Watch

Image of They come from faraway lands to the United States in search of a better life - all on the taxpayer's dime.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They come from faraway lands to the United States in search of a better life - all on the taxpayer's dime. It has been learned that at least 350,000 refugees in the U.S. are on food stamps, according the Congressional Research Service, or CRS. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Bill and Hillary Clinton have been 'disorganized and greedy,' analyst says Watch

Image of Regardless of Bill Clinton's personal feelings about Obama, it did not take him long to see the advantages of an Obama Presidency. More than anyone, he pushed Hillary to take the job of Secretary of State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, along with his wife Hillary - who has her eyes on the presidential seat come 2016, reportedly have a "web of connections between Bill's private work, Hillary Clinton's public role as secretary of State, the Clintons' ... continue reading


Loretta Lynch makes history as the first African-American female U.S. attorney general Watch

Image of Loretta Lynch is the first African American female attorney general in the history of the United States.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Loretta Lynch has been confirmed as the new U.S. attorney general last Thursday. History is made as she became the first African-American woman to occupy such a crucial and distinct government position. Lynch was not present during the Senate confirmation, however, her ... continue reading


Have they found their man? Koch brothers offer audition to Jeb Bush Watch

Image of Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, may be the candidate likely to receive support from the Koch brothers and their network of extensive political contacts.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, the wealthy political donors who have dipped their hands and massive fortunes into U.S. politics for years, may have upped their involvement, considering for the first time whether to lend their wealth and organizational ... continue reading


Will one book ruin Hillary Clinton's entire presidential campaign? Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton's campaign takes a big hit with new book.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A controversial "tell all" book about the Clinton Foundation's funding habits, titled "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich," is set to enter stores and rock Hillary's campaign next month. ... continue reading


Social Security numbers issued to more than half a million illegal immigrants in U.S. Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The cornerstone to lawful employment to labor in the United States, it has been recently revealed that more than half a million illegal immigrants - or 541,000 illegal aliens. This disheartening statistic has been revealed by Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner ... continue reading


Hillary Clinton caught in shameful lie on family's history Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Hillary Clinton continues to shape her platform for presidency, she is reported as boasting her family's immigration history. During one of her first speeches as an official candidate, Clinton said that "all her grandparents had immigrated to the United States," ... continue reading


Federal government sets all-time record for tax revenue Watch

Image of We will not know how much additional tax revenue the Treasury pulled in until it releases its next daily statement tomorrow afternoon. Every dollar of it will add to the new record.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tax day has arrived - and with the close of business on April 14, the Treasury brought in a record $1,477,901,000,000 since fiscal 2015. Began on October 1, 2014, these figures are courtesy of the Daily Treasury Statement. Despite this record tax revenue, the ... continue reading


INSANE: U.S. federal tax code is 74,608 pages long! Watch

Image of If the tax code continues to grow at the same pace it did over the last century, it will pass 100,000 pages in 2050.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you had your taxes professionally prepared this year, you may now fully appreciate what your accountant or cleric did for you this year. The U.S. federal tax code is a whopping 74,608 pages long! Try to imagine trying to digest all the nuances that go along ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 4:8-12
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 21, 29
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:11-18
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays ... Read More

Reading 2, First John 3:1-2
1 You must see what great love the Father has ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 26th, 2015 Image

St. Cletus
April 26: St. Cletus was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter