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

U.S. Presidency is not a 'crown' to be shared by two families, former Governor of Maryland says Watch

Image of Some Democrats have speculated that Martin O'Malley is angling to be Clinton's vice presidential candidate or a Cabinet secretary.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley has taken a swipe at likely 2016 contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush this past weekend. He said that "the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families." Appearing on ... continue reading


Indiana governor defends religious freedom act - says it's not 'anti-gay' Watch

Image of Critics who preach tolerance for the LGBT community should do the same for people of faith, Governor Pence said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, enacted by Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been the subject of widespread controversy. Critics say the act legitimizes discrimination against the LGBT community. Governor Pence says the act protects people's ... continue reading


OUT OF CONTROL: During Harry Reid's time in Congress, national debt up an astonishing 15-Fold Watch

Image of During the 32 years that current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has served in the United States Congress, the debt of the federal government has grown $16,955,289,814,977.42.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During the 32 years that current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has served in the United States Congress, the debt of the federal government has grown $16,955,289,814,977.42, roughly equaling an increase of about $145,131 for every household in the ... continue reading


Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security exposed as favoring wealthy 'White House allies,' including Hillary Clinton's brother Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Department of Homeland Security's latest watchdog report reveals the agency's second man in charge, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, repeatedly "played favorites" when it came to well-connected participants in an investor-visa program. LOS ... continue reading


IT BEGINS NOW: Conservative rebel, Sen. Ted Cruz becomes first Republican to announce presidential bid Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas, has become the first Republican to announce a campaign for presidency in the 2016 election. Taking to Twitter, Cruz announced his candidacy with a 30-second video message posted shortly after midnight on March 23. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


What is going on here? U.S. threatens sanctions against Israel while making excuses for Iran Watch

Image of Even more trying to Israel would be any lessening of Obama's opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority will formally join the court this coming April 1.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What is going on here? Israel, the United States' only clear ally in the Middle East is now facing tough new sanctions from the Obama White House. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Politico's Michael Crowley, "Obama officials must now decide ... continue reading


Large study reveals startling media bias toward Democrats and Obama during presidential elections Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States and international press show signs of strictly favoring the Democratic party. According to the Washington Examiner, a study of 130,213 news articles during the 2012 presidential election shows just how pro-Democratic the news sources were. LOS ... continue reading


Did the Obama administration give a massive amount of money to an anti-Israeli group to keep Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu out? Watch

Image of Is President Obama attempting to overthrow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Declining to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was in the United States earlier this month is one thing, but President Obama may have crossed a line by illegally financing an American nonprofit group that was attempting to keep ... continue reading


Iranian president finds diplomacy with U.S. to be active 'jihad' Watch

Image of Describing his country's diplomacy with the United States as an active

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Describing his country's diplomacy with the United States as an active "jihad," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the diplomatic front is just as significant in advancing Tehran's nuclear ambitions. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Rouhani praised the ... continue reading


Match made in Heaven: Hillary Clinton as secretive as Bill Clinton; deletes over 30,000 emails Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the upcoming Presidential election approaches, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton continues to be pressed on the issue of her private email account and private servers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Finally breaking her silence, Clinton has admitted ... 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, Isaiah 49:1-6
1 Coasts and islands, listen to me, pay attention, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, John 13:21-33, 36-38
21 Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 31st, 2015 Image

St. Benjamin
March 31: St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day - March 31) The Christians in ... 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