The challenges ahead | Catholic National Register

The new year 2022 has begun, as have the predictions of the issues and events that will be of utmost importance to American Catholics this year, both within the Church and in the public arena.

Earlier this month, the growing resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic via the rapid spread of the Omicron variant was at the top of the list of landmark stories. Only time will tell if Omicron represents the most harmful COVID epidemic to date, thanks to its high transmissibility, or if, on the contrary, it represents the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, thanks to the fact that for most people infected , Omicron’s symptoms appear to be considerably milder than was the case with previous variants.

But based on the growing number of Omicron cases, public authorities in many jurisdictions in the United States and other countries are stepping up efforts to impose vaccination warrants on all public gatherings, including religious worship.

Such restrictions on our freedom of worship would be both unwarranted and unjust. This is unwarranted as Catholic churches across the country have security policies in place that have proven to be extremely effective in preventing the spread of COVID.

And this is unfair because while most American Catholics have chosen to take the advice of Pope Francis and other Church leaders regarding the importance of getting vaccinated, some have chosen not to do so for various reasons. legitimate reasons.

Many of these unvaccinated believers declined on the grounds that all currently available vaccines used to some extent tissue derived from abortions in their production. While the Vatican has indicated that it is morally acceptable for Catholics to take these vaccines, those who disagree should not be denied access to worship as a result, as long as they continue to comply. to proven security measures in their churches that prevent the spread of COVID.

In addition, some canonists believe that vaccination requirements to attend Catholic Masses are in principle unacceptable. This is because it is a fundamental pastoral responsibility of the Church to make the sacraments available to all the faithful, without distinction.

The drive to implement immunization mandates poses additional challenges for religious believers in the workplace. The Biden administration and a number of state governments have been opposed to granting religious exemptions to employees who need to be vaccinated. This hostility is obviously unconstitutional, as a Texas federal judge noted when he issued an injunction Jan. 3 against the imposition of the federal mandate on U.S. Navy Seals seeking religious exemptions. “There is no military exclusion from our Constitution,” commented the judge succinctly.

COVID-related concerns aren’t the only Catholic issues at stake in early 2022. Another is Pope Francis’ surprisingly strict crackdown on the traditional Latin Mass, enacted last summer in his Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes and reinforced by a clarification from the Vatican regarding its implementation in December.

While the clarification immediately prompted Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago to apply Rome’s hard line within his own archdiocese, a more measured response from many other local bishops in the United States is expected to emerge during this year.

Another potential flashpoint is the unfolding of the process of the Synod on Synodality. Few Catholics would in principle dispute the Synod’s stated purpose of reaching out to the grassroots of the faithful around the world, seeking commentary on how the Church might best apply the principle of collaborative synodality to aid it in its fundamental mission of Christian evangelization. But due to the scope and fuzzy nature of the synodal discussion, and widespread confusion over how to conduct the process, concerns are expressed that the synod may cause more confusion than clarity.

To ensure this does not happen, committed Catholics must participate in the Synod on Synodality, thereby helping to shape a positive outcome. Sadly, however, activist groups who oppose basic Catholic moral teachings, such as the pro-LGBT New Paths ministry, are also mobilizing, seeking to abuse the synod process to undermine Church doctrine and make advance their destructive programs.

The recently launched National Eucharistic Revival in the United States poses no similar problems. Focused on renewing Catholics’ appreciation of the centrality of the Eucharist in our faith, this is a welcome and urgent initiative, in light of recent polls confirming the widespread loss of belief among American Catholics in the real presence as well as the continuing decline of Mass. presence.

These trends have been compounded by the current COVID crisis, making this year’s inauguration of the three-year Eucharistic Awakening even more timely.

Regarding public life, the impending decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Dobbs case far eclipses all other looming political issues. Oral arguments in the case, which deal with the constitutionality of a recent Mississippi state law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks, indicated that the court’s conservative majority is strongly in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade, the deeply flawed 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

If the court eradicates the constitutional basis for legal abortion, it will be the long-awaited judicial response to the hard work and prayers of generations of faithful pro-life Catholics who have collectively strived over the past five decades to achieve this result. .

At the same time, even if the hoped-for legal victory would represent a massive pro-life step, the challenges for the pro-life movement could be even greater as a result. Attention will immediately shift to the state level, as individual states would likely regain authority over abortion laws they previously held. Roe deer. In addition to actively joining political battles in individual states, Catholics must redouble their efforts in their current pro-life initiatives to support women in pregnancy crisis, adoption programs, and assistance to families in the process. need. Only in this way can pregnant women know that they will be loved and supported as they deserve, when they choose life for the babies in their wombs.

At the federal level, one can expect that a Dobbs The decision to overturn legal abortion will spark an unprecedented torrent of fury from the abortion lobby and its political allies against the parties they hold accountable. Indeed, Democratic strategists are already considering using abortion as a wedge issue with female voters in the 2022 midterm elections, hoping to replay the ‘war on women’ narrative that has been used. by the party with some success in the 2012 electoral cycle.

Faithful Catholics can expect to be particular targets of abortion supporters, given the crucial role the Church’s steadfast proclamation of the sanctity of unborn life has played in promoting the movement’s continued successes. pro-life American. Anger over this Catholic contribution to pro-life earnings is likely to further encourage the Biden administration and Democratic-controlled Congress to try to push forward decrees and laws that deny religious liberty. Such actions are particularly likely to occur in the area of ​​conscience protection for religious health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions, sterilizations and gender transition procedures. Indeed, as I noted in November, the Department of Health and Social Services is already developing an administrative rule to do just that.

It’s easy for us to get overwhelmed when you consider the trials we will face this year, especially since the ones I have highlighted here are just a small sampling of the variety of challenges that each of us will face. will meet with us in the coming months. When we feel this, as believers, we must remember that ultimately our trust is in God, not in man – and that no challenge is ever too great for God to overcome! Whatever twists and turns that might take place in our lives in 2022, we know how the story ends.

This year may prayer, fasting and sacrifice be our anchor as we face the challenges that lie ahead, always remembering the victory already won for us through the sacrifice of Christ.

God bless you!

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