St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We Need TRUTH, Not Hype!

Three days ago, a Chicago Tribune reporter wrote an article: Bishop orders priests to read anti-Obama letter at Sunday sermons.  The article starts by saying: "Joining the chorus of Roman Catholic clergy in Illinois criticizing President Barack Obama before next week's election..."  Within minutes of it's online publishing, there were hundreds of comments.  Plenty of them supported Bishop Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, saying that he's done the right thing standing up for religious freedom.  Unfortunately, so many more were the extreme opposite.  A lot of angry people said that the Church's IRS tax-exemption status should be revoked for taking a position against a candidate or political party.  Many others took the opportunity to bash the Church, saying things like child abusers shouldn't tell other people how to vote, and we don't like abortion so we can abuse more kids.  If you ever wanted to see examples of misunderstanding and misplaced anger about the Church, there they are.

The worst part wasn't the comments themselves.  It was that the article didn't include a copy of the letter!  It doesn't tell you where to find it, and it wasn't easily found by a search engine.  The endless comments were written about a letter that I'm betting NO ONE EVEN READ.  So I went to the website for the Diocese of Peoria and found the actual letter that the reporter wasn't able to share. Here's the complete text:
Dear Catholic Believers,
Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present. Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community’s grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception. This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system. Contrary to the guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, the HHS mandates attempt to now narrowly define and thereby drastically limit our traditional religious works. They grossly and intentionally intrude upon the deeply held moral convictions that have always guided our Catholic schools, hospitals, and other apostolic ministries.
Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: “Behold your King.” The mob roared back: “We have no king but Caesar.” Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin. For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.
I therefore call upon every practicing Catholic in this Diocese to vote. Be faithful to Christ and to your Catholic Faith. May God guide and protect His Holy Church, and may God bless America.

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC
Catholic Bishop of Peoria

As you can see, to call the letter "anti-Obama" is inaccurate.  President Obama's name isn't even mentioned.  The letter is in opposition to the HHS mandate, and appropriately shows how the mandate threatens our religious freedom.  It has absolutely no IRS implications for the tax exempt status for the Diocese of Peoria.

So why do I care what about a bunch of angry comments on the internet?  Actually, I really don't.  I just wanted to point out that as a society, we're quick to judge without having all the facts.  And what empowers us to do this?  It's all the hype from the media.  It's no secret that the media likes to report more hype than truth, and they do it because that's what society is looking for.

So the bottom line- We don't need any more hype!  We need accuracy and reality.  Most importantly, we need the Truth (notice the capital T).  I admit it- speculation, hype, and sensationalism are more fun, and it's so tempting to get caught up in it all.  But it isn't real, and it's one of the devil's tools for keeping us from heaven. 

As I've said so many times before:  We Catholics need to stand up for ourselves.  Please don't tolerate hype!  If the news you watch is more hype than news, then change the channel.  If you're reading an article where the body doesn't match the heading, then it's probably more hype than news; either stop reading it or write a comment that calls it out.  Hype and sensationalism only add to the misunderstanding and misplaced anger towards the Church that's already abundantly out there.  

Lastly, stand up for your faith.  Don't let someone say things about the Church that aren't true.  You wouldn't let someone talk about your mother that way, so don't let someone talk about Holy Mother Church that way either!

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