We (and I use that word purposely) re-elected President Obama for four more years. I use the collective “we” here because we now need to unite behind the President and lobby him on issues that we disagree with him on as Catholics.
I’m a bit tired of all the gridlock that occurred in the President’s first term, especially on issues surrounding health care. There is a lot that is positive in this President’s Administration and a lot that we can be hopeful about because this is a President that is willing to listen to those who disagree.
Here’s some issues that I’d like to see the Catholic Church begin to speak out about and work with the President on.
1) The Environment: The Pope has spoken out on the need for Catholics to care for the environment. Perhaps it would be wise to ask all churches to become as green as possible with direct suggestions for parishes and other diocesan and religious order buildings to implement. We agree with the President on this issue and working with him on this would be a good first step towards building good will.
2) The Death Penalty: We also agree with the President on this issue. Why would the church not work extremely hard with the President to lobby governors and state legislatures on making the death penalty obsolete. We’re one of the few countries to have the death penalty and those other ones that do, are not ones we ought to emulate,
3) Support to Limit Abortions: Even if abortion were outlawed (and it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, unfortunately), the law would just revert to the states. So we’re never getting rid of abortion just by repealing Roe v. Wade. We’re just siphoning it off to certain states to become abortion states. Even in states that have tried to outlaw Abortion, those initiatives were easily defeated. Would it not be more pragmatic to now admit that we might not be rid of the legality of abortion and instead work to develop a different strategy to defeat it. This might be very comprehensive in structure. For example, why wouldn’t we try to work with the President to support childcare for pregnant women? Why wouldn’t we lobby to make adoption processes easier? Why wouldn’t our Bishops call on Catholics to be foster parents or Big Brothers/Big Sisters? And why would we not work to support the disabled? There’s clearly a lot of room for us to work together on all of this without all of the gridlock.
4) HHS Mandate: This was handled horribly by all involved. Why not challenge the idea that health care even needs to be tied to employment? Why not take the lead and simply pay our workers more and not offer them health care in favor of allowing people to form their own collective and barter for their own health care. This might create a very healthy marketplace, bringing prices down because of the competition that they’d engender. I think that there was a lot of ill will on both sides of this debate. It’s time to admit that the President offered a compromise and even a loophole for Catholics, but that wasn’t good enough. Surely there’s more room for negotiation here.
5) Equal pay for Women: Clearly this is a justice issue that we can get behind as Catholics.
6) Gay Marriage: While the church will not bless a gay marriage, perhaps we can admit that these types of civil unions, are simply civil and not sacramental. Our job as Catholics would remain in protecting the human dignity of gays who are attacked because of their sexual preference despite our disagreement about the question of marriage. People need the full protection of some kind of force from those who would do them harm.
7) Peace and Justice: Restoring the world to peace once again will be a hallmark of this administration and upholding human rights and restoring justice to those who are oppressed is something that we all agree is central to our ideals as Catholics and as an American culture.
8) Economic Justice: How will we defeat poverty? Surely this is something that we have lots to say and we can be helpful with ideas and initiatives that the White House may just wish to support.
9) Slavery/Human-Trafficking: Clearly this is an area that we can push for more engagement from our churches along with the administration.
10) Eldercare: The majority of Catholics and the majority of clergy will soon be senior citizens. How will we care for them in the future? How can we make this affordable? We will need the government to help push an agenda for the dignity of the elderly.
All in all…a civil tone between our church and our government will be necessary in these four years and we cannot afford to be jettisoned off to the Catholic ghetto. It’s important to note that Catholics of good will on all sides of these questions, democrat and republican (independents too!), have much to contribute. We need to work on our own in-house civility in the Catholic blogosphere as well, so that despite our differences at times, they still will know that we are Christians by our love. And from there, we might together, work with those who do not share our faith in order to bring about a more perfect union.
As many know, I’m the co-convener of our UB Campus Ministry Association. We have started to unite together to do more charitable initiatives, along with initiatives to bring awareness and safety to the campus. We don’t always agree. But we are committed to finding common ground. In doing so, we show our campus that we can transcend disagreement and work together to bring peace and justice to our campus.
Tonight, let us pray that we can come together and that our President will be open to working with us on things that we can find common ground on, so that we might be able to protect the vulnerable in society and live once again, in peace.
Let the real work begin!