Friday, February 10, 2012

Where Do Catholics Party?


I have never been very interested in politics.  Maybe it was because I grew up in a place where the politicians were a joke.  When I first moved to Louisiana, the race for governor consisted of an ex-klu-klux-klan member and a convicted felon.  When I moved to Texas, I found the politicians are not as corrupt, but they are just as wishy-washy.  They say what you want to hear so they may keep their elected positions.  So, out of disgust for the politicians and the process that turns them into what they are, I’ve stayed away from politics.  And that worked out just fine because government mostly stayed out of my business- until recently.
I am seriously concerned about the new HHS mandate put in place by the Obama administration requiring all health plans to include preventative reproductive health services- including those of religious organizations that find such plans morally objectionable.  SERIOUSLY concerned.  Since when does the government have the authority to tell a church they have to provide morally objectionable services to their employees and the people who CHOOSE to seek the church’s services?  Since when does the government have the authority to impose their moral code on a religious entity?  Yes, this mandate has me seriously concerned because the government is now stripping away my rights to freely practice my religion- a right guaranteed in the constitution.
So, I find myself in unchartered waters.  Here I am a Catholic plucked right down in the middle of a political firestorm.  Where do I go?  With whom do I identify myself?  That is the million dollar question.  I can’t be a Democrat because their party supports pro-choice issues, but I can’t be a Republican because they support the death penalty.  I can’t be Democrat because they are too socialist, but I can’t be a Republican because they favor run away capitalism.  Both parties have their non-negotiable evils and, therefore, I can’t find a place in either one.  One thing that frustrates me is where the other Catholics stand.  There are Catholics in both parties.  Some of the Democratic Catholics openly reject the Church’s teachings on issues like contraception and abortion while some of the Republican Catholics what to cut social services in an effort to lower taxes for wealthy citizens.  I just don’t get it.  How can one be Catholic but not call the truths of the faith their own?  When did Catholicism become a cafeteria plan to those in the political arena?
I think this issue of picking and choosing what one wants to believe is an American Christian phenomenon.  People in our country relish their freedom. They taut it. They covet it. And they have applied it to every aspect of their lives- including their practice of religion. They are free to choose what they want to believe. And, in light of the rights outlined in our constitution, they are free to do exactly that. But as a Christian, they are not. The Church doesn’t call her teachings beliefs but rather truths.  The truths of the Catholic faith are TRUE- like the sky is blue.  Beliefs are not truths.  There is a distinction.  As Catholics, we are asked to embrace all the truths of the faith. Now, I understand that is a tall order.  For me, the journey to conversion was a process.  It did not happen overnight.    But if we truly love Christ, then we will be on that journey. I think some get stuck and distracted and accept the world's standards over the higher standards of God. What they fail to realize is how those choices separate them from God. They are missing out on the intimate relationship Christ designed to have with us when they pick and choose which truths they are comfortable with rather than abandoning themselves (and their coveted freedom) to all the truths Christ gave us. Christ gave us his life to give us these truths. We must do the same if we seek to have this intimate relationship with Him.
So, what is a newbie political Catholic girl to do?  I can’t compromise my position on the truths of the Church.  Also, I can’t stand idly by and let the government impose their moral standard on my Church.  It seems as if I am all dressed up but have no party to go to.