Let’s Keep Our Eyes on the Ball

Hardly a day goes by any more without me receiving one of those emails. No, not the ones you’re thinking of, although occasionally one of those slips through the spam filter.

I’m talking about the emails that call me to action because the President-elect is actually NOT AN AMERICAN CITIZEN (caps in original, of course). Or the ones that breathlessly denounce the bishops for supporting their own Campaign for Human Development because the recipients of some of the grants turn out to be left-wing community organizing groups that — horrors! — favor Democrats. Or the ones urging me to drop everything and oppose some piece of legislation or another that has been introduced in one of the houses of the New York legislature, and don’t I know what horrible things will ensue! Or the ones reminding me that the head of a major pro-life organization has denounced a pro-life newspaper and a religious community known for loyalty to the Church, because he thinks they are now “part of the problem” since they dared to call for civility in dealing with the incoming President.

Sorry, but I’m not biting. I can’t handle so many distractions. We need to do “issue triage” and work on the most urgent issues, leaving others aside for the time being. As I see them, here are the priorities:

1. The “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), and its New York State equivalent, the “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act” (RHAPP) — These extremist bills would go far beyond the horrors of Roe v. Wade and make it impossible to pass any reasonable regulation of abortion. They would also endanger the freedom of conscience of Catholic hospitals and health care workers.
2. Same-sex “marriage” — This would transform the traditional understanding of marriage to include relationships that are not rooted in the natural complementarity of the sexes, and would permanently de-link human sexuality from the procreation and education of children. It would also inevitably threaten religious liberty by coercing religious people and institutions into recognizing these unions.
3. Waiving the Statute of Limitations — This bill would permit lawsuits by victims of clerical sexual abuse, even though their claims are so old that the law would otherwise prohibit them, if they had been brought against any other defendant (which is made clear by the fact that all public institutions — like public schools — are exempt from this bill). Make no mistake — this bill is a direct, targeted attack on the Catholic Church, and would threaten to bankrupt our dioceses, parishes, and institutions.

Just for the record, in my opinion, the ludicrous and baseless “President-elect isn’t a citizen” stories should be relegated to the fever swamps of the Internet where the UFO enthusiasts reside. Sure, I wish the Campaign for Human Development would support other groups — maybe some pro-life ones would be nice — but I’m not consulted about that (or about much else, to tell you the truth); if I don’t like the recipients, I should withhold my donation. Yes, there are lots of bad bills out there, but I can’t fight them all. And no, I refuse to go along with pro-life “friendly fire” incidents that only sap morale and give aid and comfort to the enemy.

The fact of the matter is that we are at war. We cannot fight every battle. We must concentrate our forces on the most significant strategic threats, not on side shows. We’re out-numbered, out-gunned, and out-moneyed by our opposition. We can’t afford to be distracted.

So, please don’t send those emails around any more, and please focus on the most important issues.

The game is at stake. We need to keep our eyes on the ball.

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