Monday on this site, Robert Royal asked a very important question regarding the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood: Where is the Church? The answers he found by looking to Catholic media and statements by the hierarchy proved less than inspiring in more than one quarter. The frustration of the faithful was evident in the comment box.
As I thought about the criticisms, I was reminded of a story often told about G.K. Chesterton. When asked by a prominent newspaper to write an essay about what is wrong with the world Chesterton replied simply, “I am.” So I find myself asking not where is the Church, but where am I?
We live in a society that unabashedly dismembers, harvests and traffics its young with impunity. Have any of us done enough? It is too facile to just vent our frustration on the hierarchy. There are more of us, the laity, than there are of them.
- Have I fasted and prayed sufficiently against this evil?
- Do I pray for the conversion of the poor souls caught in the grip of pure evil?
- Have I used the summer congressional recess to visit my members’ local offices to make it clear what I expect from Congress when they go back to Washington?
- Have I continued to talk about this national shame, even at the risk of being labeled a social pariah; or am I hoping that our collective short attention span will rescue me from the uncomfortable so we can all chat about something less gruesome?
What is wrong with the Church? I am.
What’s more, it bears pointing out that Royal’s “snapshot” of the Church’s involvement – disturbing as it is because of the impression it gives of a weak response – was incomplete (as he conceded). The bishops were – and are – leading an effort to speak the Truth. Yes, all of them. I would call to your notice an effort founded by the U.S. Bishops in 1974: National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).
NCHLA does grassroots lobbying at the federal level on behalf of the bishops and works directly with the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Once the bishops have made their pro-life policy position known, as they did through Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s letter to the Senate, it is NCHLA’s job to educate and engage the people in the pews and to motivate them to contact their members of Congress to urge them to vote in support of life. A sophisticated electronic action alert system makes it easy for people to raise their voices in defense of the defenseless.
NCHLA has over forty years of grass roots lobbying experience and can point to many legislative victories brought about when people of good will raised their voices as one. In these challenging days for religious liberty and the culture of life, the need for NCHLA has only grown.
Never heard of us, you say? That’s OK. NCHLA has been in the subsidiary business, motivating people at the parish level to organize and quietly keeping the focus on the message, not the organization. If you have ever sat in church and filled out a postcard to send to Congress, then you have participated in an NCHLA effort.
Think back to when Catholics stood together to flood the Hill post office with millions of messages that stopped the Freedom of Choice Act in its tracks, achieved the partial-birth abortion ban, or called for religious liberty in the wake of the HHS Mandates. All those initiatives and many more were generated by NCHLA. We haven’t achieved everything we’d like, but we have had an effect.
Now, in this current digital connection economy, our default mode is email. We are finding email captures Congress’ attention whenever we can generate sufficient numbers of responses. Power to the people of God!
So when you ask, “where is the Church” at this moment, it bears saying that through NCHLA the bishops are reaching out to the faithful and calling them to engage in the policy debate. NCHLA sent out a call to action before the recent Senate vote and another after. You can help by following up, either to thank a senator who voted for life or to remind senators who did not vote to defund Planned Parenthood that we noticed – and expect better from them next time.
That alert is still active and can be found on the home page of NCHLA.org. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to sign up for our alerts. Never again miss an opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless.
Robert Royal wrote movingly that: “The only way to counter PP’s unholy alliance with powerful political, economic, academic, and media elites is a serious movement – not a lone voice here and there, a large movement that’s not going away.”
Let me encourage you again: join your voice to hundreds of thousands of others who use the NCHLA platform to demand pro-life federal legislation. We are not going away. Join us. Together, we will be heard.