The Chicago Archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, [reportedly] recently remarked, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison and his successor to die a martyr’s death.” An overly-dark prediction? Perhaps. But there are threatening signs for the Catholic Church’s future in America.
Yesterday a federal judge overturned Proposition 8, California’s Marriage Protection Act. He ruled same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. About two years from now, the issue will reach the Supreme Court, where most anticipate a 5-4 decision to go one way or the other. A poor decision, enshrining a national right to gay marriage, could drive Catholic organizations out of many charitable efforts, such as adoption services.
This year in Wisconsin, the legislature came close to removing the statute of limitation for all child sexual abuse cases. This would have allowed civil suits, no matter how old, to be brought against alleged perpetrators and their employers. (Government institutions, like public schools, were exempted.)
What’s wrong with a law like this? Consider the difficulty of gathering facts, witnesses, and accurate testimony for events twenty, thirty, or even forty years ago. This is why statute of limitation laws exist. How does one question a dead priest or a dead bishop to assess their response to an allegation or their knowledge of an incident? Merely responding to a handful of these new-old cases in litigation would cost Wisconsin dioceses immensely. The legislation died this year in committee, but its supporters intend to reintroduce it next year.
The President’s recent health insurance overhaul will intertwine the federal government into medicine more than ever before. What will this mean down the line for the work of Catholic hospitals? That remains to be seen.
So what shall do? We will pray. As St. John Vianney told us yesterday, ‘God commands us to pray, but He forbids us to worry.’ We shall continue to love, for love is what changes hearts. We should vote, because we live in a democracy where the government is made in the image of those who vote.
And finally, we shall be faithful, no matter what. Even if, God forbid, churches are confiscated and sold off… even if Catholic charities and hospitals have to close their doors… even if priests and bishops go to jail for things they say or things they are unwilling to do… we will be faithful and unafraid. For Jesus promises us, “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against the Church.”
We shall not deny Jesus Christ, nor His teachings, before the world. We, the Church, will be faithful to Christ and His teachings. We shall be His people, and He shall be our God.