There is a growing trend of argument that having the absence of an anti-discrimination policy constitutes discrimination in and of itself; and there are groups and advocates who would seek to impose such policies on arguably Catholic institutions or deny federal funding. The State is dictating terms to charities that stem as outreaches from Catholicism, attempting to divest Catholicism; the inspiration for said services, from the services themselves, to make over all charities in the government's image; so that no one who receives a loaf of bread or a bowl of soup from a kindly person in the basement of a church thinks, "Hey, these are good people. I want to know more about them and why they are good." but instead thinks, "Hey, I'm sure glad they don't wear their religion on their sleeves as I might be tempted to convert." It is silliness on its face, but there is a more sinister motive.
Pregnancy Centers in Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland now must advertise they do not provide abortions or birth control medications, while abortion clinics need not announce they kill the unborn. The Arch Diocese of Washington DC has ceased providing foster care today because of the District of Columbia's pending same-sex marriage law that will obligate all outside contractors dealing with the city to recognize gay couples. Catholic Charities adoption agencies were run out of Massachusetts for the same reason. In California, Catholic hospitals are being pressured by the courts to provide emergency contraception and abortion or birth control services via insurance for their personnel.
The current proposed healthcare program will require that all tax payers, Catholic and otherwise pay for abortions, all manner of birth control and sterilization. To say no to any of these things now is the equivalent of hate speech, rendering the writer/person/group/institution a non worthy entity with nothing worth hearing. It is pernicious to say that Catholic Charities in California, in Massachusetts, in DC, and Catholic hospitals have not engaged in following the beatitudes, caring for the sick, the lost, the forgotten and the dying; because they have not been willing to ignore their own value system; but have been willing to live it by serving someone else. The same value system that led these same people who arrange adoption, manage foster care, care for the sick, that says these other things like abortion, birth control and non marital sex are not good.
One suspects, that if pressure were brought to bear on Catholic institutions by outside forces in the form of a discriminatory law suits, that the policies will be altered to meet demand, because the alternative is to close up shop. I suspect, and this is the Cassandra Canary in the Coal Mine tweeting when I say this, that there is an attempt to get the Church to cease its social justice outreach unless the social justice outreach trumps and silences all other values the Church might hold.
The Cloak of Christ cannot be divided, and I hope that the Church through its many people and services, will find a means of reestablishing itself as a source of support for the poor and sick and abandoned, even as its current means have been choked off by modern predators who do not love the Church or the poor, but seek to use the later to alter the former. Christ would heal the modern day leper of his illness but would also still say, "Go and sin no more." and that would apply to all those who brought the leper before Jesus as well.
The pressures being brought to bear are removing the Church's physical witness to the world, making them chose, "You can keep serving the poor, just denounce this value. Otherwise, you can't serve the poor and you don't want all those people not to have what they need do you?" But it is a false choice. It is a choice designed to undermine either the Church's physical witness, or moral authority or both. Morality has been reduced from what I do that affects my relationship to God and others, to I can believe what I want as long as I ensure that my actions never affect anyone else’s decisions to You can’t believe THAT.
Fortunately, Catholicism isn't about social justice, social justice is an outreach of the Church manifesting Christ's love to the world. Catholicism isn't about equity, because all of us seek to be the least in the Kingdom of God, by serving the least here. Catholicism ultimately, is only about one thing, the Eucharist. As long as we hold to that, everything else flows, everything else follows; and nothing the State or the Federal government does to limit the Church here on Earth can stop it. Recently, I was in a conversation where someone asked why stay in the Catholic Church? If you could find another iPod shuffle version of Christianity that took out the things you didn't like, why stay? Then I read story from a woman who wondered why she needed to go to mass. As I considered what would come of the Church if she were closed off from being able to act out the beatitudes as a result of ruthless and relentless legislation designed to demand that values be stripped away from service, the answer in my head was the same for all three situations. The reason to stay in the Church, the reason to go to Church, and the reason not to worry about the world's many attempts to destroy her was the same, the Church is not defined except by its devotion to and understanding of and love for one thing; "It is the Eucharist."
Copyright 2010 Sherry Antonetti
About the Author
Sherry Antonetti is a Catholic published author, freelance writer and part-time teacher. She lives with her husband and 10 children just outside of Washington, DC, where she's busy editing her upcoming book, A Doctor a Day, to be published by Sophia Institute Press. You can find her other writings linked up at her blog, Chocolate For Your Brain! or on Amazon.