Q&A: How to maintain your faith during these challenging times

Dr. Janet Smith to give talk at St. John Paul II Lecture Series March 10

Denver Catholic Staff

The challenges the Church faces today come not only from the surrounding culture that is increasingly hostile to it, but also from within. The sexual abuse crisis and the present confusion and disagreement about doctrine has made it hard for many Catholics to retain or strengthen their faith.

Dr. Janet Smith, recently retired professor from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and A Right to Privacy, will speak about this topic at the St. John Paul II Lecture Series in Denver March 10. Her talk will seek to bolster the determination of Catholics to remain in the Church and even encourage others to join it.

The Denver Catholic spoke with her regarding this topic ahead of her talk.

Denver Catholic: We live in an increasingly post-Christian society. What can we as Christians and Catholics do to help turn the tide?
Dr. Janet Smith: The obvious answer is that we need to become as thorough Christians and Catholics as possible and that means praying a lot, reading Scripture regularly, receiving the sacraments, becoming knowledgeable about the faith, and discerning how God wants each of us individually to work to bring about the Kingdom. Some will be called to turn their attentions largely to forming their own family in the faith, others to serve the poor, others to be activists for NFP, pro-life, etc. We need to make sure that our young people know the dangers of socialism, seductive for its calls for social equality but extremely threatening for its hostility to religion and tendencies to totalitarianism.

DC: Besides the scandals within the Church, there are a myriad of other cultural issues Christians have to contend with (i.e. same-sex marriage, transgenderism, etc.). How can Christians better navigate these complex issues?
DJS: Again, we must become very informed about these issues. There is an abundance of good materials easily found on the internet. Parents should homeschool if at all possible to protect their children from indoctrination. And even there they need to address these issues with their children by explaining the principles that inform Church teaching on these topics. Parents whose children attend public or even diocesan schools need to be vigilant about how advocacy of these issues may be being promoted in the schools. They need to be sensitive to how “unloving” opposition to same-sex relationships and transgenderism seems to young people and learn how to present information to them that will help them see the harms intrinsic to both.

DC: How can Humanae Vitae help the Church to defend the truths of the faith when it comes to human sexuality?
DJS: Humanae Vitae remains an indispensable document for the truths about marriage and sexuality it contains and for its prophetic power. And, of course, St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, an extended defense of Humanae Vitae, provides an in-depth, biblical explanation of God’s plan for sexuality based on the claim that our very bodies demonstrate that we are meant to love and to be loved and to live lives of complete self-giving. Sexual intercourse belongs only within marriage because only within marriage can sexuality express true affirmation of one’s spouse – an affirmation which includes unconditional faithful lifetime love that embraces the tremendous shared project of cooperating with God in bringing forth new human life.

DC: In what ways can Catholics and other Christian denominations better cooperate to become a stronger united front against the persecution of Christians?
DJS: First, the bishops and leaders of other congregations need to alert the laity to the amount and kinds of persecution happening in foreign countries and the increasing threats within our own. Clearly they need to meet with each other and devise some plans – likely co-authored statements and jointly sponsored conferences that hopefully will lead to a more informed public that will lead to more galvanized public officials and providing help for refugees from religious persecution. We should be prepared to become fearless opponents to evil and even martyrs. Watching movies such as A Man for All Seasons, A Hidden Life and The White Rose should help. We should become very familiar with the message of Fatima.

DC: Do you have any words for discouraged Catholics who are considering abandoning the faith?
DJS: I believe the Church is in one of its worst crises ever: news of sexual abuse of minors, priests leading double lives, embezzlement and luxurious living, cover-up of crimes and doctrinal confusion — among other forms of corruption — are overwhelming Catholics. We need to be honest and not refuse to acknowledge the extent of corruption. It is natural to wonder what kind of Church we belong to. But surely Christ knew His Church would experience such corruption. Our job now is to do what we can to purify the Church, not to leave the Church. We need to double down on our own faith life — we need to increase our dedication to prayer, both for good priests and bad priests, sacrifice, and reception of the sacraments. We need to see this time as a very curious blessing — even as a time to be more zealous evangelists. We need to make it clear to ourselves and others that we are committed to this Church because nowhere else can we find the sacraments and the richness and soundness of doctrine taught by the Church.

St. John Paul II Lecture Series
“How to Maintain your Faith During These Challenging Times”
By Dr. Janet E. Smith
March 10, 2020
7 p.m.
RSVP at archden.org/lecture

COMING UP: Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Volunteers gathered nearly 50,000 signatures for Initiative 120 within two-week cure period

Aaron Lambert

In a final push, supporters of the initiative seeking to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

During a two-week cure period granted after falling short of required signatures to get Initiative 120 on the ballot, over 400 volunteers worked diligently and collected over 48,000 signatures by May 28, nearly three times the amount sought during the cure period. The Due Date Too Late campaign spearheaded the charge to gather signatures with support from Catholic Charities’ Respect Life Office and other pro-life communities across the state.

“I am overjoyed to hear that so many Coloradans have signed the petition to successfully place Initiative 120 on the November ballot,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who expressed his support for the initiative early on. “Protecting children in the womb is an essential part of building a society that treats all life, no matter its age or ability, as sacred. God has given each person a dignity that comes from being made in his image and likeness, and the degree to which our laws reflect that will be the degree to which we experience true freedom and happiness.”

Initiative 120 would prohibit abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks, with an exception for the life of the mother. According to a recent Gallup poll, 74% of Americans believe that there should be limitations on late term abortion. Due Date Too Late submitted the bulk of the needed petition signatures in March but fell short 10,000 signatures after review by the Secretary of State. The cure period began on May 15, with Due Date Too Late needing to collect those 10,000 additional verified signatures of registered Colorado voters during the 15-day cure period to meet the 124,632 threshold and qualify for the November ballot.

“We are thrilled to take this next step towards protecting lives in Colorado by exceeding our goal of signatures we are turning into the Secretary of State,” said Lauren Castillo, spokesperson for the Due Date Too Late campaign. “We are thankful to have this opportunity to work together with communities across the entire state of Colorado. The hundreds of volunteers we have who are so passionate about ending late-term abortion are helping to make this a reality.”

Due Date Too Late will be turning in the notarized packets containing almost 50,000 signatures on May 29 at 2 p.m. to the office of the Secretary of State to assure that the ballot initiative will meet the statutory threshold.

The field collection effort by Due Date Too Late went forward amid a recent executive order by Gov. Jared Polis regarding how petition signatures may be collected. Under Gov. Polis’ order, he declared that ballot initiatives could gather signatures electronically in response to the coronavirus pandemic; however, Initiative 120 was the only ballot initiative that wasn’t allowed to collect signatures electronically because it was in a cure period.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated over 30,000 signatures were being turned in, based on the information that was available at the time of publication. The actual number is closer to 50,000. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.