How to respond to the Capitol violence and confusion

In these tumultuous days, everyone is asking the question: ‘What is the truth?’ Based on how they answer that question, and given the relativism of the day, we are dividing ourselves into camps. This division was on full display when the Capitol Building in D.C. was stormed on Jan. 6. In that moment, we saw anger and violence generated by feelings of disenfranchisement burst into the open, just as we had seen in the months before in many of our major cities. Both the right and the left have resorted to violence that is unacceptable in a civil and democratic society.  

What is at the root of this turmoil? Our country is suffering from the unraveling of the common moral fabric and the truths that comprise it that have held us together for nearly 245 years. Now, when people search for the truth about almost any topic, they don’t find a single answer. Instead, they are confronted with a mob of competing voices, each with their own agenda. Finding someone or an organization seeking the common good is increasingly rare.  

So, what is a Catholic to do in this situation? How should we respond to the constant attacks on our national and religious values and the widespread erosion of good will toward our fellow man?  

The only solution that will repair the weakened moral fabric of society is to seek Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I am reminded of the line from the Psalmist that says, “Though nations rage and kingdoms totter, he utters his voice and the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob” (Ps. 46:7-8). He is the only one who can pierce through our posturing and rhetoric and scatter the fog of confusion. Jesus, the Word of God, reveals us to ourselves and shows us the way to true happiness, both as individuals and as a society. 

To allow God to do this, we need to rediscover the value of silence and spend time with him in the Word and sacraments. We need to break away from the constant flow of information. As God showed Elijah on Mt. Horeb, he was not in the great wind, the earthquake or the fire; he was in a “light, silent sound” (cf. 1 Kings 19:9-12).  This means placing our trust in Christ for salvation and seeking his wisdom for how to live, rather than turning to commentators, politicians or political parties. They may promote legislation or give speeches that contain truth, and that is praiseworthy and should be supported when it happens. But we should not forget that we are made for heaven and are called to build up the kingdom of God, not a utopia on earth. Jesus reminds us to seek first “the Kingdom of God” and “the will of the Father.” St. Paul reminded the Romans and reminds us today, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  

This means seeing both our friends and our enemies as sons and daughters of the Father, no matter what their beliefs, ethnicity or political affiliation. It means adopting the vision of Mother Teresa, St. Francis or Julia Greeley. They saw others as Jesus does.  

When Jesus was presented with the woman caught in adultery, he did not condemn her but called her to repentance. Both St. Francis and Mother Teresa experienced a calling to care for the neglected, which certainly applies to our current hyper-partisan environment. Instead of the lepers or sick people left to die in the gutters that St. Francis and Mother Teresa cared for, each of us is being asked to see our neighbors, relatives, friends or enemies with the eyes of Jesus. St. Francis was moved to kiss a leper and later care for them. Mother Teresa was called to pick up the sick and dying and to defend the unborn. We are called to these same works of mercy, but also to love others as Christ loved us. We won’t be able to do this unless we receive the love of God and recognize that he is real. 

May the Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace, intercede for us and our country, that we would become more fully rooted in the Truth, that our minds become the mind of Christ, and that our hearts become more like the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Featured Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”