You may have heard about the controversial Cincinnati Catholic school contracts, which require teachers not to publicly support things contrary to Church teaching. If you haven’t heard about it, here”s CNN”s story highlighting all the teachers that are terrified of being fired; for whatever reason, the reporter didn”t bother to find anyone who thought it might be a good idea.
If you’re a faithful Catholic, you’re probably annoyed that the media at large portray this new policy as bigotry and intimidation when it’s obviously not. You might be irritated at Pope Francis for saying “who am I to judge?” And you’re probably impatient with the teachers who so stupidly want to live a life contrary to Catholic teaching, then go and teach at a Catholic school. I mean, come on.
Hold it. Let’s consider that maybe these teachers aren’t stupid. Probably the ones most frustrated by this new policy are the ones who have been teaching there for a long time, which puts them at maybe late 40s to early 60s. The vast majority of Catholics that age had horrible catechesis when they were coming of age. (Does anyone else mentally brace themselves when they walk into a new parish and see that the priest is about that old?)
I don’t mean that many in this generation haven’t heard the natural law arguments illustrating why two people of the same sex can’t marry or why IVF doesn’t jive with the Catholic understanding of marriage, sexuality, and life. I mean many in this generation lived through Vatican II and its immediate aftermath, which included major scandal by some prominent and respected Catholic bishops and theologians, the Dolans and Chaputs of that generation. Major scandal like taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times publicly dissenting from Humane Vitae.
This generation pretty much missed something crucial: the idea that the Church has authority, speaks authoritatively on doctrinal matters, and can’t online casino change doctrine. (For more on this, read Ralph McInerny’s What Went Wrong with Vatican II?)
We can blame them for not knowing and assenting to what they’ve never been taught, but I don’t think we should. Instead of whining, complaining, finger-pointing, and exasperated sighing, we should evangelize. Like, with love and understanding and patience and all that stuff.
We ought to recognize that it’s not necessarily their fault they didn’t get a good education, and we should see that as unfortunate, not threatening. We should see what we can learn from them.
It’s not about us versus them, not about our egos or our feeling of superiority because we’re “better Catholics.” Your faith, your education and understanding of the faith, your relationship with God is hardly your doing. Did you choose your awesome faithful-Catholic parents? Did you found the great Catholic school you attended? Did you arrange the event or conversation that made you wonder about the faith or give yourself the drive that brought you to seek the truth?
Don’t blow off the role of other people, and the role of grace. Be grateful, be humble, and quit patting yourself on the back. This is about healing the body of Christ, not about being better than those “so-called Catholics.”