There was a preacher once who was saying to the congregation, It is wrong to steal horses. The congregation answered, Amen,amen. It is wrong to steal cows. Amen, Amen! Then he said, It is wrong to steal chickens. And someone shouted back, Now he is meddling. Up until that point, conscience was not touched. (Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
I recently wrote a blog post about the need for Catholics to take action against some of President Obamas policies, mainly his health care plan and the HHS mandate. My analysis was clear and to the point there are provisions in this plan that oppose Catholic teaching and, following the lead of our bishops, we must speak out and take action. While I expected some opposition (mainly from non-Catholics), I wasnt prepared for what I received FROM CATHOLICS!
Heres a sample
For the first time, a health care plan addresses the lack of health coverage for 60 million Americans who had been up to now left to die on the side of the road until the Good Samaritan bill was passed.
OK, not bad some editorializing, but still respectful. Things start to go downhill with the next response
I dont think that our religion should have anything to do with politics. That is what is so great about our religion, it is the one true church but we arent taught to force our religion on people. If we did we would be looked at just as the Protestant church is. The Supreme Court ruling does go against some of the churchs teachings, but it is also for many of the teachings. Lets not forget that 6 of the justices are Catholic.
A little more direct, but not really nasty. Then I got this one
Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion but I find it improper for Gary Zimak to have the gall to think he speaks for all Catholics. This man is not a Bishop, Priest, or even a Brother for the Church. From where does his authority spring forth? I am wary of any person who speaks or writes in the name of God and doesnt use Scripture Yes abortion is wrong. Yes its even murder. However, Barack Obama is not a supporter of abortion! Some people do support it and use it as an after-the-fact form of birth control. That is murder. But then others, like Obama simply say that government will not regulate it by making it against the law.
This gentlemen finishes his comments with
The conservative right (which I would never call religious) are the ones who DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE POOR as Jesus did. They love money, not God or their fellow man. Zimak derided the recent Supreme Court decision. Why? He is a rich white man! He doesnt care about how the needy are finally getting health care reform that will help the poor and middle class! I am disgusted by those who would use Catholicism to further their own personal agenda. Those are the people Jesus called Vipers!
As a Catholic evangelist, I often write and say things that are met with resistance. As long as I stick to generalities (God loves us, We can all be a little nicer, Prayer is effective, etc.), then everyone is happy and nobody gets offended. However, the minute I start to challenge peoples beliefs or practices, the negative comments begin to flow. A few years ago, I wrote an article, Ten Facts Most Catholics Dont Know (But Should). For the most part, it was very well received. However, when one diocesan newspaper picked it up, the readers went crazy! My assertions on the all male priesthood, the Bible being compiled by the Catholic Church and all salvation taking place through the Church were met with the following comments
I wonder if Mr. Zimak realizes who his audience is. Some American Catholics are critical thinkers.
It is with dismay that I read the article by Gary Zimak in the guest commentary. He purports to be the founder of Following The Truth ministries. I am doubly troubled that you him as an authority of sorts. May I please know the authority by which this lay apostolate says he speaks for the Roman Catholic Church regarding women priests? What in fact are his credentials for representing the Vatican in any way?
We were rather startled by the guest commentary by Gary Zimak in the July 30th issue. We think that Mr. Zimak is a questionable source at best As for No Salvation Outside of the Church, perhaps someone should explain the teachings of Vatican II to Mr. Zimak. He seems to have stopped his belief in Catholic teachings at the Council of Trent.
Then there was Gary Zimaks statement that Women will never be priests. (Gary, didnt your mother tell you never say never?)
I wondered what you had in mind when selecting the piece for publication. It provided no new insights, but instead the same old worn out points that are often made by some finger-shaking, pre-Vatican II conservative traditional Roman Catholics Certainly, the piece did not contain any new, enlightened points of view that would pique the interest of forward looking, contemporary Christians searching for new understanding.
And my personal favorite
Today I read Ten Facts Most Catholics Dont Know with the smirking picture of the author
Our Catholic Church teaches that we MUST evangelize. This requires us to charitably share the truth with others. Depending on just how much of the truth we share, however, were eventually going to be met with resistance. It happened to the prophets, it happened to the Apostles and it happened to Jesus. Our Lord warns of this with His chilling words:
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51-53)
As Catholics, we must be willing to speak the truth, even if it makes someone angry. We live in a world that is filled with darkness. Many people do not want to learn the truth because it is in direct conflict with a sinful and selfish lifestyle. While the world may not WANT to hear the truth, the world NEEDS to hear the truth and it is our responsibility to proclaim it. A close friend (and excellent writer), Shane Kapler, wrote an excellent article in which he discusses the Caricature Jesus. In Shanes words
We prefer an imaginary Jesus, who forgives our failings but makes no demands. The imaginary Jesus never gets upset unless its at religious bullies, and theyve got it coming, dont they? He came to relieve suffering (because pain, not separation from God, is the ultimate evil) and to teach us that if well just be tolerant enough of everyone elses opinion (translation = truth does not exist in fact; truth is what we individually believe it to be), peace will finally come.
Unfortunately, despite some people wanting to believe otherwise, the teachings of Jesus Christ as presented through His Church are very concrete and real. They cannot, and should not, be watered down or ignored simply to avoid conflict. As Catholics we have the duty to speak the truth, even if it means crossing the line. Jesus warned us of the hatred that wed experience, but He also promised a great reward
You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)