“We Have Been Inspired By Your Humility”

By William A. Doino, Jr.

Z-DOINOWilliam A. Doino, Jr., is a long-time contributing editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, and an online columnist for First Things magazine. Internationally rec­og­nized for his work on Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, he is the lead contributor to the anthology The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII.

As a life-long Catholic, born in America, and grateful to be an American, I know that millions of my countrymen — and not only Catholics — are thrilled and honored that you’ve chosen to visit our shores this September.

The support you have received, since becoming pontiff, has been extraordinary, as people from all walks of life — from every part of the globe — have been inspired by your humility, compassion, high moral ideals and profound faith. If there is one word that describes you, as the world’s foremost religious leader, I believe it would be “authentic.”

Your visit will be particularly momentous, because it coincides with America’s accelerating moral and religious crisis.

In addition to battling the evils of racism, social injustice and crime, and the new dangers of environmental degradation, our country, as you know, still sanctions abortion-on-demand, violates religious liberty, and has just legalized same-sex marriage throughout all 50 states.

To say we have departed from the principles, ideals and Judeo-Christian vision of our nation’s founding would be an understatement. We have abandoned them, and turned the principles of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence aside. We have forgotten who we are, and are trying to recreate a radical new society of our own choosing, devoid of objective truth and biblical insight, and driven by militant secularism, and what both Pope Benedict and you, Holy Father, have rightly decried as a “dictatorship of relativism.”

One of the worst things that can befall a nation is the destruction of its classic language. This is what has happened in America.

Beautiful and noble words like “love,” “freedom,” “mercy” “compassion,” “understanding,” “tolerance,” “diversity” and “inclusion” have been redefined and used to justify sin. What Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen called “false compassion,” has now reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with no end to its growing influence in sight.

This situation has created great concern. At one time, most Catholics thought the principles of American democracy were not only compatible with Roman Catholicism, but would allow American Catholics to flourish — without compromising their faith. Sadly, that is no longer true. Instead, feelings of fear and apprehension have taken over, as Catholics (and many other people of faith) witness their faith and values being mocked, attacked and even demonized in the public square.

The Statue of Liberty rises near New York City at a time of great confusion for the nation, which now awaits the visit of Pope Francis with the hope that he may bring words of clarity

The Statue of Liberty rises near New York City at a time of great confusion for the nation, which now awaits the visit of Pope Francis with the hope that he may bring words of clarity

Given this situation, your forthcoming presence on our soil, as the Vicar of Christ, and voice of truth on essential matters of faith and morality, can only be seen as an act of Providence, for a nation in desperate need of spiritual renewal.

As I see it, there are five areas of concern, which bear directly upon this nation’s crisis, and which every American Catholic (and those open to the Church) would benefit hearing you speak about: 1) The reality of sin in our lives and culture, and the need to turn away from it; 2) The traditional family as the building block of civilization; 3) The Catechism of the Catholic Church as an indispensable guide for the faithful; 4) The need for conscientious bishops and religious, and principled Catholic lay men and women; and; 5) The need to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the New Evangelization.

Since you have already addressed these themes so often, I would assume that it would be only natural for you to develop them, and craft them for an American audience. To do so — through your live and heavily-covered broadcasts — would, I believe, not only benefit our Church, but our entire country.

In preparing for your visit, I am sure you have already developed your own unique insights into our country’s precarious situation, and doubtless have already invited the input of America’s bishops and prominent American Catholics, to contribute theirs.

May I respectfully make one additional suggestion?  Your predecessors, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, visited the United States not long ago, and revealed a keen understanding and warm appreciation for America, and the profound influence the Catholic Church has had upon it.

But they also, gently, but firmly, indicated those areas where American life has gone wrong — sometimes terribly wrong, with Catholic participation — and did not hesitate to speak corrective words of wisdom for America’s own good, and the good of souls. If you could do so, we would be in your debt.

Holy Father, I am convinced that at the bottom of America’s crisis is one common denominator: a decline in our belief in the supernatural — and that this would be an invaluable theme, if you could highlight it during your visit.

Our surveys may indicate that we are still a largely religious country, but many Americans, including those who profess to be Christian, do not act as if the supernatural world really exists.

We do not act as if the four last things — death, judgment, Heaven and Hell — are driving forces guiding our lives; we do not act as if something we do may endanger our salvation.

This is the sin of presumption, and America is awash in it.

A recovery of our own sense of fragility, of our mortality — and of our absolute dependency on the majesty of God — will be essential if America is to save itself from its current path of destruction.

Never have the words of Solomon been more true: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

“Prayer, Faith, Witness”: Excerpt from Pope’s June 29 Homily

At the Mass celebrated June 29, the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, at which the symbolic sheepskin pallium is bestowed on newly-installed metropolitan archbishops, Pope Francis delivered stirring words in his homily which have as much meaning, in our day, to every Catholic religio­us and lay person, as at any time in history. His remarks are excerpted here:

The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community… harshly persecuted by Herod who “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also…” (12:1-4). However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelization, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.

A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5)… The catacombs were not places to escape from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer… The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone…

PIETRO-E-PAOLOA call to faith: in the second reading St. Paul writes to Timothy: “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully… So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth… ” (2 Tim 4:17-18)… How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful!…

A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God… A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water!  The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children… thanks to proclaiming with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”  (cf. Mt 16:13-18).

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