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Thank you Holy Father for coming to America and in reawakening us to the possibilities – no, the practical realities – of a faith filled hope.

MALIBU, CA (Catholic Online) - It is well noted that the Holy Father has profound respect for the American order.

Here’s a country that is widely religious and yet respectful of the separation of church and state.

But he also sees a potential shortcoming:

"Perhaps America's brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things "out there" are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life."

The antidote to not having religion just become a generalized bromide is to have it premised upon a full understanding of how nothing in life can be truly divorced from God the Creator and his saving plan.

In other words, faith is not an irrelevancy. It is life itself.

What does that practically mean?

1. Being Catholic requires an interior conversion, a submission to Christ.

To "think with the Church" is neither to memorize dogma in a superficial way nor to pick and choose among Catholic beliefs as if they were a political party platform.

Here, the Church must be a more regular and engaging teacher proposing with charity a fuller understanding of the magisterium.

More than a 15 minute homiletic reflection upon the Scripture reading is required. Reading groups, a vibrant parish lecture series, and parish-based social outreach could all help.

2. While it’s always important for a culture to try to have its civil law reflect natural law principles, Catholics for too long have directed their efforts toward changing the membership on the Supreme Court or amending this statute or another as its primary mission.

Overruling Roe, while fully warranted under the law of the original Constitution, saves not a single life, in and of itself.

Lives are saved when the beauty of sexual intimacy within marriage is taught, when motherhood is affirmed, when parishes are prepared to openly and warmly support a women facing the still real cultural stigma of giving birth without marriage. And,when the economic needs of a single mother are addressed generously.

When the Gospel is put into practice through really choosing life in a concrete and personal sense, the "dictatorship of relativism" – that which argues that men have the power to redefine life – is proven to be false.

3. " Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America."

Yes yes yes!

Catholic elementary schools still remain the best hope for extending the teaching of the Church as a way of life beyond the liturgy.

It is said that without a presence of the religious sisters that our parochial schools cannot be sustained, but that simply overlooks plentiful resources, both economic and human.

The United States Supreme Court has long eliminated any constitutional objection to school vouchers. Where is the nationwide Catholic movement to demand that public resources be allocated to parents directly rather than devoted to the monopoly support of the secularizing public school?

And in terms of human resource, we are an aging population with many of us nearing retirement but still very much wanting to stay in service to our fellow man.

How wonderful it would be if Catholic seniors were given multiple opportunities by their parishes to volunteer their time to teach in Catholic schools.

As I see it, this would give us one of the finest faculties in the land and, in the process, strengthen the intergenerational family.

Thank you Holy Father for coming to America and in reawakening us to the possibilities – no, the practical realities – of a faith filled hope.

Now, may we have the courage to act.

Professor Doug Kmiec is chair and professor of constitutional law, Pepperdine University; former Dean and St. Thomas More professor of law, The Catholic University of America

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.

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