Monday, July 05, 2004

America’s Future Depends on Catholics

The Holy Father told the National Prayer Breakfast in 2000 that it is up to religious people to end this crisis. "I would go so far as to say that their task is to save democracy from self-destruction," he said. "Democracy is our best opportunity to promote the values that will make the world a better place for everyone, but a society that exalts individual choice as the ultimate source of truth undermines the very foundations of democracy."

We would argue this task falls to Catholics most of all.

After all, Catholic theology uniquely understands the interrelationship between natural law and divine revelation. Just as Thomas Aquinas was the great defender of both theology and common sense, Catholics today uniquely understand aspects of natural law the world has forgotten: Our teachings on abortion, marriage and even contraception are defenses of what man can know without revelation.

Second, Catholics are most responsible for the future of America because of sheer numbers. Immigration from Mexico and family sizes mean the old Protestant America is falling off a demographic cliff. Tomorrow’s America will no longer be white and Protestant but browner and Catholic.

And last, Catholics are most responsible for the future of America because we are the Church founded by Christ on the rock of Peter, the one Church that Christ promised would prevail against the gates of hell. Certainly, other Christian denominations rightly worship God, as the Second Vatican Council said. But Christ founded one Church, not many denominations, and that one Church is the one that carries God’s guarantee.

Catholics already have a clear plan to follow to begin the task of re-Christianizing America. It’s "The Plan" unveiled by Pope John Paul II in his 2001 apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium) we mentioned in the June 20-26 editorial.

He called for a creative, vigorous and wide-scale promotion of the fundamentals of Catholic life: Sunday Mass, confession, prayer and community service. These basic practices are simple to explain, they are an easy sell for most people and, when followed, they transform lives. If we promote them successfully, we will spark a major religious renewal.

Alongside this "New Evangelization," Catholics need to take a direct involvement in the political questions of our day. As the candidacy of Sen. John Kerry shows, too often Catholics reject the tenets of their faith for political expediency. Our first task is to reject such candidates. And we are rejecting them. As the many examples on our front page show, Catholics who refuse to dissent from the key tenets of their faith are already making a difference in the political arena.


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