The Scriptures give us images of infection--
skin disease, and the fear that it will spread.
But there’s another kind of infection--the good kind.
Notice what St. Paul said: whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.
And notice what happened when our Lord healed the man with leprosy:
the news spread--like an infection!
Looking at the big picture, the state of our society:
What kind of infections are spreading?
The good news is, the Gospel is spreading.
Christianity is growing worldwide.
The bad news is that a lot of false gospels are spreading too--
and they have powerful forces behind them.
Take a look at the events of the past few weeks.
We were stunned to learn our government
was going to force us to act against our own faith.
As you know, the bishops spoke as one, saying
“we cannot--we will not--comply with this unjust law.”
A tide of protest began to spread--
so much so that the President had to acknowledge it.
So on Friday, he offered what he called an “accommodation.”
I realize a lot of the media--and some prominent Catholics--
have quickly said this solves the problem.
But let’s be clear--Christ did not give the New York Times
authority to teach in his name;
he gave that responsibility to Peter and the Apostles,
and to those who would come after them: our bishops.
And if ever there was a time when we need to be clear
on who speaks for the Church of Jesus Christ, now is that time!
So let’s hear what Archbishop Dolan of New York--
who is the president of the U.S. bishops conference--
had to say on this.
He said this so-called solution, while a first step,
as it is, it is “unacceptable.”
Why? Because the government is still forcing everyone
to go along with contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs,
as part of health care.
Putting the mandate on the insurance companies
doesn’t really change much.
Here’s something not everyone realizes:
a lot of organizations, including many of our Catholic organizations,
act as their own insurance company.
It’s kind of shell game--as someone said,
it’s like a teenager saying, I didn’t buy the beer--
I got my big brother to buy it!
Archbishop Dolan also points out that the threat
is still hanging over our heads:
the power of a bureaucrat to sweep away our rights
with the stroke of a pen.
So our bishops are continuing to say we need legislation
that will take that weapon out of the government’s hands.
That’s why there are postcards in your pews today.
I’m going to come back to those in a moment.
At the outset, I said the Scriptures show us the power of infection--
both the bad kind, and the good kind.
And we’re seeing it.
Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI issued a letter, Humanae Vitae,
in which he addressed the subject of using
artificial methods of regulating birth.
And in that letter, he reiterated the Church’s constant teaching
that by God’s design, love, procreation, marriage and family
are all bound together.
We have means--such as Natural Family Planning--that respect this design.
But artificial means set aside God’s design--and we don’t get to do that.
Because many expected he would change the teaching,
his letter was ridiculed--even by many Catholics.
For various reasons, his words have been widely ignored.
So now, we have the humiliation of the President himself saying,
look the Catholics themselves don’t believe it.
For 50 years, people have vigorously spread the promise of contraception.
Meanwhile, a lot of bishops, a lot of priests, and a lot of Catholics,
have either gone along, or for whatever reason, chose not to say much.
So…I’m talking about it now.
In your bulletin you’ll see a handout like this.
There are a couple of talks this week--
one for teens and one for adults--that will talk about this.
I’m addressing the subject briefly; these talks will go into depth.
Please take advantage of them.
When Pope Paul VI issued his teaching 50 years ago,
he made some predictions. Let’s see what happened.
He said, first, that if these artificial means were to spread,
they would greatly lower the moral climate.
Who would say that the moral climate today is not much worse?
The pope said that this would damage marriages.
Can anyone claim that marriages
are in better shape today than 50 years ago?
In fact, those who promoted contraception claimed it would help marriages;
and they still claim it prevents abortions.
The facts all go the other way.
Divorce has skyrocketed;
Families are broken; more children than ever grow up without both parents;
birth control is freely available,
and we have a million abortions a year.
The promises were false. And yet, they’ve been spread far and wide.
And then Pope Paul said this:
Careful consideration should be given to the danger
of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities
who care little for the precepts of the moral law…
Who will prevent public authorities from favoring
those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective?
Should they regard this as necessary,
they may even impose their use on everyone.
And now we have lived to see that prediction fulfilled.
So we are left with a very uncomfortable fact:
Those who believe in this false hope
have done a far better job of spreading their message,
than we have ours.
So while we have to deal with the threat at hand from our government,
we might also do some soul-searching
about how well we’ve spread the message of our faith.
Is this uncomfortable? Does this teaching demand sacrifice?
Do some wish I’d offer something more pleasant?
He said, “take up your cross.”
In every age, in every society,
members of the Church have faced a confrontation
between the Gospel of the Cross, and all the counterfeits.
We’ve been around 2,000 years.
This is hardly the first time
we’ve faced government trying to push us around and it won’t be last.
He told us this would happen--why are we surprised?
As I said, there are three postcards,
one for Speaker Boehner, one for Senator Brown,
and one for Senator Portman.
They are three different colors so you can easily tell them apart.
If you haven’t already, please take one of each for yourself and fill it out.
Anyone of any age can sign one, it’s our right to speak out.
In a moment, the ushers will come and collect them--
we are going to have volunteers come next week
and put postage on them and mail them.
If you want to help with that, call the office Monday.
Sending three postcards costs about a dollar.
If you can afford to contribute a dollar, great, put it in with the postcards.
But even if you can’t, still put in your postcards;
someone else I’m sure will throw in some extra.
The ushers will come forward now and begin collecting the postcards.
In all of this, I admit I’ve been angry.
I think we have good reason to be angry.
I’ve been shocked and broken hearted--
To have the country we all love so much to go down this road.
And I think a lot of us are tempted to despair.
A lot are saying, we can’t stop it, everything just gets worse.
Don’t give into that temptation!
This is when we need fortitude--courage.
To quote one of our revolutionary heroes:
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Fortitude! That is a gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism.
Christ chose us, in this time, to face this challenge.
He trusts that we will be equal to it.
And He promises, with his own blood as proof, that he stands with us.
As our beloved Pope John Paul said so often:
“Be not afraid!”