The Catholic Family

I refer in the post title to the family of Catholics, not a nuclear family who is Catholic.

I’ve been in a number of discussions of late about two subjects that have caused me to engage in a lot of reflection. The first is the upcoming election, which seems to prompt a lot of people to engage in judgements about who is or is not a good Catholic. The second is the Catholic Church’s position on various matters, about which there is disagreement on the question of whether one may legitimately dissent from the Church’s position.

What saddens me is hearing two facets of a similar sentiment. One is the “I don’t like x so I’m leaving.” Take your pick on x – it could be “I can’t accept the Church’s position on ordination of women, so I’m leaving and going elsewhere,” or “I can’t stay in a Church that is opposed to homosexuality.” The other facet is “If you don’t like x (fill in the same or different x’s as you choose) leave…and good riddance, we’re just as happy without you.”

It doesn’t seem to me that either version is very Catholic. Perhaps I take the idea of our being one family who are all members of one Body of Christ too seriously. But it seems to me that families don’t act that way. They don’t just get up and leave or push each other out the door when conflcts arise. They try to work out their differences. If they disagree with something, they (to use Brother David Steindl-Rast’s phrase) stand in and speak out, rather than walk out. I’m not talking about ignoring differences, pretending they don’t exist. But I am talking about listening to each other with love.

If, in the words of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the “Church’s social doctrine is characterized by a constant call to dialogue among all members of the world’s religions,” then isn’t it incumbent on us as Catholics to make greater efforts to peacefully engage in loving dialogue with each other?