Yes, the Church should add its voice to the public square. Certainly there are unjust laws and policies we need to work on overturning. But the selectivity of issues in homilies bothers me.
We can ask government to pass all the laws we like. That is our right and, in many cases, our responsibility. But in the end, how we behave should have nothing to do with whether something is legal. I wish parish priests and U.S. bishops would talk about this more.
How we behave ought to be connected with our understanding of our place in the universe and our own ethics. If we are Christians, how we behave should have resonance with our connection to the Mystery from which we came and to which we hope become part of when we die.
In these days, I am troubled to hear from the ambos so much talk about certain policies and silence on others. It is hollow to hear talk of respect for life when some parishioners as young children were not protected from exploitation, in some cases by the men who now sit in judgment. Still other parish friends (with multiple children) go without health insurance. (And while I am at it, what we can we do to promote religious freedom for Christians who are truly denied the freedom of religion, in places such as Somalia, Iraq and Kenya?)
In which photograph do Catholics seem more oppressed?
Changing laws does not change hearts. For example, lots of things are legal that I'd never contemplate.
Because I believe our marriage is an indissoluble sacrament, I won't be divorcing my husband. Because I am not gay, I won't be marrying a woman. Because I believe life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death, I terminated no pregnancies during my child-bearing years. Because I believe artificial contraception is bad for my body, for the environment and for marriage, I have never popped a pill to interrupt my ovulatory cycle.
And yet, all these behaviors are legal in at least some corners the United States. Do bishops think banning these behaviors will make Catholics stop doing them?
Among all the issues that are supposed to be important to the Body of Christ - immigration policy, universal access to health care, the immorality of preemptive war and abortion, and preferential option for the poor and vulnerable - the bishops are selectively cherry picking a handful of issues, then encouraging Catholics to behave in an absolutist manner with them in the voting booths.
And finally, if we all put our faith and energy and expectations to ask the institutions of government to do what we as the Body of Christ are failing to do among ourselves to convert our souls, we are missing opportunities to share what it means to be fully human.