September 17, 2017

Two shocking news stories: This past week I read two news stor ies which shocked me but ultimately didn’t surprise me. One dealt with the fact that in the United States white Christians are now a minority. The other dealt with the questioning of a judicial nominee, Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett, by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein who was troubled by the fact that Catholic “dogma lives loudly within” her. The face of Christianity in our culture is changing, however, the anti-Catholic sentiment that has been a part of our nation’s history is not.

The article about white Christians was interesting to me for its reporting on the idea that only the “liberal” sects of
Christianity were in decline. Most of us know that all denominations of Christianity are currently in a state of decline in the US. It is not simply those liberal denominations which are in trouble. We must understand that all of Christianity is facing a crisis. I believe this is due to so many of the non-Catholic Christian traditions changing their teachings and dogma. Add in the lax practice/observance of the faith by so many Catholics and the problem is clear. It is, oddly enough, the problem Pontius Pilate had: “What is truth” (Jn 18:38b).

In my opinion, the idea that truth is open for interpretation is the downfall of Christianity. How can one faith
(Christianity) hold so many conflicting ideas about the truth? As I recently preached, the truth is the truth is the truth. That’s true. We, as Catholics, teach, believe and hold that the deposit of faith (the truth as handed down by God) is present within the Church and is protected by Tradition (note the capital T) and the teaching magisterium.  Yes, we have the truth. However, our current culture attacks truth and brings it down to sheer opinion. We are then told to respect the opinion of others−even above respecting the truth. When we fall victim to this line of thinking we become lost in a sea of ever changing ideas. Within that cultural sea of changing ideologies, oddly enough, one thing does become an anchor. That anchor is to view any absolute as dangerous. Thus we no longer have absolutes in dogma, faith, marriage, sexuality, or even gender.

Unfortunately, this ugly truth wielded its head during a recent U.S. judicial nomination hearing. Senator Feinstein, and a few of her colleagues, attacked a nominee, who is a practicing Catholic, because…well let me use the senator’s words… “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern…” Is Catholic dogma (which is the truth) a concern for our nation? I hope not!

The dogma lives loudly within you is actually a beautiful compliment. It means I know the truth, hold to it, and others see it being witnessed within my life. I pray that these words will someday be spoken of me. May we all hold onto the truth even if it means we become the minority and/or face public ridicule. After all, that is the way of Christ!

You might like to check out Bishop Barron’s homily from this past weekend entitled Judgment and Love (easily accessible  online). I would also recommend looking up Word on Fire on the internet and viewing some of their great videos on truth versus relativism. For more information about the senate hearing and the anti-Catholic views expressed see the Washington Examiner September 7 issue, Diane Feinstein renews her decades-long crusade against Catholic judges.