Sunday, August 8, 2010

Propping Up Propisition 8 (Part II)

There are two institutions that need an urgent fix before the legal definition of marriage is to be indelibly set in stone again: the family and public education, the very foundation on which the State rests. If the family and public education are weak, so too will the State. But there is one additional layer, one additional institution which puts the family and education on solid ground: and that is the Catholic Church. When she uses all of the pastoral and supernatural means at her disposal- those means used especially during first millennium -then families and public schools will be Christian again.

If the soul is not saved, nothing is saved...including marriage...including education...and including the government. Christ said, "Without Me, you can do nothing." But do we take Him at His word? I don't think we do; at least when it comes to education and politics. I fear that Conservatives and even many Christians are content with making His Gospel a private affair. We cannot keep Christ out of the schools or the government. Papal encyclicals of the last two centuries have taught that the only true education is a Christian education. Pope Pius XI, for instance, said that if the school is not a temple it will be a den. Moreover, a State that is indifferent to religion will, in the end, be hostile to it. Hence, civil authority can be no more indifferent to Christ than the individual citizen can. State neutrality towards Christ is short lived. If it does not decidedly favor Christianity, like I said, it will eventually reject it.

The preaching of the Gospel in the public square by Bishops, priests and religious is the oil of healing which families and schools need. It cannot be just lay men and women who sanctify the temporal order. The whole Church must make itself felt in soceity and must use every means to do so. Preaching of the Gospel is a charism of Holy Orders. This charism is not the exclusive prerogative of Holy Orders but Bishops do enjoy the fullness of that charism which has, in centuries past, transformed a cruel and barbaric world into a civilized one.

Lay men and women no doubt participate in the charism of preaching and teaching, but it is an error to assume that bulk of that responsibility belongs to the laity. No. The New Testament, the Second Vatican Council, as well as Church Tradition, clearly states that the among the primary responsibilities of the Bishop is the preaching of the Gospel. But preach the Gospel to who? Just Catholics? God forbid! To non-Catholics as well. "Make disciples of all the nations," were the words of our Lord.

With Bishops leading the way, the Church has to find new ways and new venues where the Gospel can be preached so that unevangelized and uncatechized people may be reached. Like in the early years of Christianity, the 21st century heralds of the Good News must not be content with having people come to them; but they must go to the people. Bible studies in safe havens like the church basement is good for the parish community but it does have its limitations in reaching people. Somehow, someway, Christians must go to the streets, to the public square, to the media and even to the inner city neighborhoods.

With this, marriage as defined between a man and a woman will be recognized by the State. However, it first has to be accepted by the people. But without the Light of Gospel, people will have little incentive to withstand a highly motivated coalition of gay rights advocates.

With that said, where does this leave us? Where do we go from here? Principles are one thing but tactics are another. Is it realistic to do away with State-run education and to replace it with Christian education; especially in a pluralistic society? And what can the Catholic Church really do to shore up the state of the family and public education?