Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus!
It is no secret that many Catholics live a sort of “buffet line” Catholicism. They pick and choose what pleases their moral palates. For “Cafeteria Catholics” the deposit of faith we have received in the Church is seemingly nonessential depending on a person’s mood and/or circumstance.
Yet, so many of the Saints that we admire did not have this sort of “buffet line” thinking that is so pervasive in our culture. The faith of the Saints is built on rock, where Jesus is the answer. The Saints lived with conviction rooted in a real relationship with Our Lord and they defended this relationship unto death in many cases. The Saints sought to build God’s kingdom always and everywhere, convenient or inconvenient, popular or unpopular. The Saints knew that if Jesus is who He says He is, then anchoring themselves to anything or anyone else did not make sense.
Of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices, six are Catholic. One was raised Catholic and is now Episcopalian and two are Jewish. The heavy Catholic concentration on the Court has raised the ire of some. These folks take exception and think that there should be greater diversity amongst the judges on the Supreme Court. Does their faith matter? Are Catholics in the public square able to successfully separate their faith in rendering decisions? We only have to look at the way our current Supreme Court Justices argued in the past on all sorts of cases. Their conclusions and justifications for their decisions are all over the place. It is clear that not all Catholic justices think alike and certainly not with the mind of the Church. If that were the case, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas, both Catholics, would be voting in unison. Instead, they are ideological opposites.
With all this as a backdrop, I read a line in an article that raised some concerns about the nominated Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett. It described that the problematic side of her faith was its “unusual intensity and character.” That phrase stuck with me because she is being labeled a fanatic for her deeply held Catholicism that is characterized as extreme and dangerous. Despite her razor-sharp intellect and the esteem she enjoys as a judge and a professor, a “serious” Catholic is now a sidelined one. At best, cultural Catholicism is the only acceptable Catholicism—you know, Christmas and Easter Catholics.
But how does cultural Catholicism make the world a better place? It is a neutered Catholicism that does not offend others, nor does it help build the Kingdom of God. It is merely a symbolic Catholicism at best. And if it is a generative Catholicism, it is best to keep it tucked safely within the walls of our church buildings where it will neither challenge nor offend. To quote Flannery O’Connor, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”
I am not sharing all this to canonize Amy Coney Barrett. Not all of her judicial decisions ring true with the mind of the Church. But the ones that do have made her a target for persecution. In that she has stepped forward for consideration, she has accepted the cross and I respect her for it. I am praying for her. She is a brave person. We need more Catholics with her kind of courage.
God Bless, Fr. Don Kline, V.F.BACK TO LIST