A Language They’ll Understand

By now it should be apparent to anyone who follows Washington politics that the new administration is ideologically the most anti-life administration in the history of our nation.
During the recent presidential race, President Obama’s campaign was able to divide Catholics and forge a majority (54 percent) who voted against the teachings of the Church. How could this have happened? These Catholics either must not know what the Church teaches, or simply don’t care.
It is the responsibility of our bishops to teach the Faith and discipline the faithless, but many of them have failed to meet their responsibilities. What can the lay faithful do to move our bishops to action?
First, we must pray — pray that our bishops be holy, wise, faithful, and courageous in shepherding their flocks. Secondly, the faithful need to encourage their bishops to do what they should be doing. It is clear that our efforts heretofore have had little effect, probably because we weren’t pushing the right buttons that would motivate our bishops. Recent events, however, suggest a course of action that the laity can take to encourage change.
A few weeks ago, legislation was introduced in the Connecticut legislature that would have put severe limits on the control of bishops over their diocesan finances and administration. In almost no time, the three Connecticut bishops reacted with a force and alacrity rarely seen, particularly when compared with issues of life and marriage.
A few years ago, faithful Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco were able to move then-Archbishop William Levada to action by threatening to withhold contributions. This worked because the archdiocese realized that their policy of placating dissident Catholics in order to retain their contributions was a losing proposition in the face of the potential loss of money from faithful Catholics.
These events teach us that threats to power and revenue streams will get the attention of bishops and can move them to right action. In those dioceses where bishops do not defend life and marriage and who tolerate Catholic politicians who vote and otherwise act against the Church’s teachings, faithful Catholics should organize “donor strikes.” Notify the diocesan bishop that funds formerly given to the diocese and parishes (from which the diocese collects a tax) will be redirected to charities such as Priests for Life or Human Life International.
We can help effect change for the better in our Church. Let the action begin.

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Gene Zurlo writes from South Carolina and is a board member of many Catholic apostolates around the country.

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