Guest Commentary by Terrell Blodgett submitted to the DAILY CATHOLIC on the Eve of the Feast of the Archangels
No More Complicity
It's Time to be a Sign of Contradiction
by Terrell Blodgett
O God, Who sees all creation as one eternal Now, grant that we the Catholics of this generation may one day joyfully behold with You from Heaven the legacy of Life we have left to our children. Amen.
I have good reason to believe that we share the same heartache over the way in which the "culture of death" has overshadowed America.
Many falsehoods have been written in the media recently about alleged Papal complicity during the Holocaust of WWII. Yet, if we were to look back on the present time from the vantage point of the year 2050, would it not be sadly accurate to say that the holocaust of abortion in America today is partly the result of complicity by the Catholic laity?
We have a chance to change this situation. Elections are coming up in six weeks, elections that will either solidify the stranglehold of the death culture or begin to break it.
Someone once said that 90% of success in life results from just "showing up". It is absolutely true that many elections are won by minority groups, such as American Catholics, if we just get our people registered to vote and get them to the polls on election day.
To mobilize the Catholic laity, I ask you to please read the following short article, entitled "No More Compliticy" and, then if you would, to forward copies of it to other Catholics you know. The article is designed to motivate and show Catholic voters how to be a "Sign of Contradiction" on behalf of the Culture of Life. May God grant that it succeed!
(If you happen to be an official of a church or charitable organization, please be aware that your position does not prevent you from distributing this message as an individual citizen. See note (1) below for details.)
How the American Catholic Laity Changed the Political Face of the 21st Century
It was the middle of the 21st century, and historians were asking themselves this question:
“How did Pope John Paul II’s prophecy that the new millennium would bring forth “a new springtime of Christian life” already come to be realized to such an astounding degree?”
Everything began to change when, for reasons that historians still cannot comprehend, American Catholic voters went to the polls in unprecedented numbers in the 2000 general elections and voted overwhelmingly against candidates supporting the “Culture of Death”.(1)
Exit polls recorded many puzzling remarks by the voters:
-- “The Church is the only institution in America today that tells us the truth.”
- -- “I knew things had to change, before it just got too late . . .”
- -- “Too many of our generation never even had the chance to be born.”
- -- “Partial birth abortion? – Never again!”
- -- “No more complicity!”
Some observers believe a major role was played by two forceful statements from the American bishops in the run-up to the elections: “Faithful Citizenship” and “Living the Gospel of Life”.(2) Others point to the importance of Pope John Paul II’s Consecration of the world and the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 8, 2000.(3) Many believe the phenomenal growth of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration was key.(4) And all agree that there had been a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that made believers particularly receptive to the above graces.
Whatever may have been the proximate causes, the action of lay Catholics as voters in the fall of the year 2000 was unique in the history of American elections. Never before had the laity taken it upon themselves like this to put their beliefs into practice.
In the six weeks before the elections were held:
- -- Millions of emails sped around the internet as people wrote to their relatives and friends, encouraging them to register and turn out for life on election day.
- -- Hundreds of Catholic websites and chat rooms across the nation, most of them only a few years old, also sounded the trumpet, reiterating Church teachings, and providing details on how to register to vote, and on how the candidates stood on pro-life issues.(5)
- In a remarkable show of solidarity, Catholic voters across the political spectrum in effect said to the candidates: “If you support the Culture of Life we will vote for you; otherwise your political career is history.”
Of course, many politicians weaseled in their initial responses to this new attitude from their constituents. Some tried once again to distort the Bishops’ teaching that pro-life issues are a “seamless garment” and claimed that their stances on other social issues should more than outweigh their failure to follow the Church's teachings with respect to abortion and euthanasia.
But this time the people replied: “Wear the seamless garment the proper way then! As it is, you are putting it on upside down, with your feet through the neck. That is why you stumble and cannot lead us.”
It began in October, like the scene in “A Miracle on 34th Street”, with bag upon bag of absentee ballots flooding the courthouses from Maine to Hawaii, as Catholic servicemen and women, families living abroad, and even prisoners still eligible to vote recorded their choices for the Culture of Life.
And then on that November day, fifty years ago now, the people streamed to the polls, looking like the figures depicted in the mural at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: men and women from all walks of life, the young and the old, mothers, fathers, grandparents, students, farmers, factory workers, office workers – people of all races and cultures – united by the Faith and determined to see that justice would be done.(6)
In the years following the general elections of 2000, both major political parties underwent striking reforms, returning to the principles that once had been common ground in America. Although progress was piecemeal at first, more and more of the candidates who chose to serve the culture of death were peacefully purged from office in each succeeding election. Party leaders learned they could not fool the people on life issues any more and set about finding other ways to compete for votes. Judges, sensing the changed political climate, increasingly rendered decisions protecting life and, as they had sworn by oath to do, promoting “liberty and justice for all.”
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. And He led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' And I answered, 'O Lord GOD, thou knowest'" (Ezekiel 37: 1-3).
Notes and Web References Available for Public Use
(1) Because the Catholic laity is so much greater in number than their priests, only the full participation of the laity could have had such a major impact at the polls. All citizens have the right to attempt peacefully to influence the outcome of elections guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution. This includes ordinary people with religious convictions, such as the Catholic laity, as well as members of the clergy (bishops, priests, and religious brothers and sisters). Only certain tax-exempt organizations cannot “electioneer.” From the standpoint of U.S. law and tax regulations, those who head such organizations (bishops, pastors, and officers of 501(c)(3) organizations, etc.) nonetheless remain free to participate fully in influencing the election process as long as they do so as individuals, not as spokespersons for their organizations. For those who wish to know more, a detailed document entitled “Political Action Guidelines for Churches and Pastors” is available on the National Right to Life Committee's website at www.nrlc.org/Election2000/Index.html.
(2) The complete text of “Faithful Citizenship” may be found at www.nccbuscc.org/faithfulcitizenship/citizenship.htm
and that of “Living the Gospel of Life” at www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/gospel.htm
(3) More information on Pope John Paul II’s consecration of the world and the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary may be found at www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/novena/ol_rosary1.htm and Information on the World Rosary
(4) For information on Perpetual Adoration see the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament website in English, Spanish, or French at www.acfp2000.com/main.htm
(5) Information on procedures and deadlines for registering to vote may be found at BEaVOTER.org
A comparison of the life-issue stances of the two major presidential candidates can be found at the website of the National Right to Life Committee: www.nrlc.org/Election2000/comparisonindex.html
For state-by-state ratings of members of the Senate and the House, see the website sponsored by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), a well-funded proponent of the culture of death (including partial birth abortion). Remember that a high rating by NARAL translates into a low pro-life score: http://www.naral.org/mediaresources/publications/choice/index.html
(6) A photograph and background information on the beautiful relief sculpture “The Universal Call to Holiness” may be found at www.imiweb.org/stonemagazine/shrine1.htm