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BY The Editors
We thought we
would be at a bit of a disadvantage for this issue of the Register, since we
had to send it to the printer the day before Election Day. That meant we needed
to finish the entire issue without knowing the winner of the election — or if
there is a winner by Nov. 9 at all.
Four years ago when we faced the
same dilemma, we found that maybe this isn’t a disadvantage after all. It gives
us clarity. We’ll repeat now what we said then.
The stakes in the election were
high, with the future of the Supreme Court and fundamental “Catholic” issues
like abortion, fetal research and marriage on the table. But there is an even
more important battle going on in America today: the one for America’s soul.
Truth be told, as stark as their
differences were on many issues, neither candidate was likely to move our
country to the conversion of heart that it needs.
Don’t get us wrong. It’s important
to have the right legislators, and the Register did all it could to educate
voters about the differences between the candidates on key issues. But
Catholics need to be wary of becoming like the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
They witnessed the death and resurrection of Our Lord, and then left Jerusalem
sad because they had hoped for a political ruler. Christ himself had to set
In the end, Christians don’t place
their hopes in politicians. It is not the American president who will transform
our country, but Christ the King. And he can use whatever situation he’s given
to do that.
But he does rely on the Church to
distribute the graces he wants to give the world — and that means he relies on
Do a computerized Nexis search of
news stories, and you’ll find that the phrase “America is the new Rome” has
appeared in dozens of periodicals over the past two years. Some make the
comparison to the great empire of the past with pride. Others make it with
scorn at imperialism. But the fact is, America has been forced by its size and
power to be involved in one way or another with other countries throughout the
Just as Rome brought advances in
civilization to far-flung parts of the world centuries ago, America’s influence
has been for the good in many cases. Women in burkas voted in Afghanistan.
Schools and orphanages have been built in Iraq. Our medical advances have
helped suffering people all over the world.
But just as Rome brought its own
brand of violence and immorality along with its sophisticated civilization, so
has America. We brought Afghanistan its first abortion clinic. We brought Iraq
its first satellite TV pornography channels. And our biomedical sins are
spreading along with our medical advances.
The stories comparing America to
Rome often end by warning that the empire was ruined by its own arrogance. But
Catholics who have seen the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica know there’s more
to the story than simply the empire’s ruin.
Because of the persecuted followers
of “the way” whose symbol was the cross, Rome added Christianity to the things
it brought the world. Because the “little flock” was unafraid, despite the
fierceness of the opposition, the Church took a giant step toward bringing the
Gospel to all nations. And the result — Christian Western civilization — has lasted
until our time.
Today, Catholics in America are the
followers of “the way” who find ourselves citizens of the world’s leading
superpower. Our nation’s influence is felt worldwide, but our nation has grown
hostile to the culture of life, embraced a permissive morality and unmoored
itself from its founding principles.
The details of our situation don’t
precisely parallel the early Christians’, but American Catholics’ duty is the
same. By transforming America, “the new Rome,” we can do a great deal to help
transform the world.
That’s why in this issue, Gus Lloyd
begins his occasional look back at what Pope Benedict XVI said to Americans.
When Benedict spoke at the White
House, he praised America’s founding principles. At each of his Masses, he
reminded us that the Church’s presence in America is the result of the Holy
Spirit’s efforts and part of God’s plan.
At Yankee Stadium, he even gave
Americans our marching orders: Build the Kingdom of Christ in the world.
“Each day, throughout this land, you
and so many of your neighbors pray to the Father in the Lord’s own words: ‘Thy
Kingdom come,’” he said. “This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of
every Christian in this nation. It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your
lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities. It needs
to create new ‘settings of hope’ where God’s Kingdom becomes present in all its
First: Build the Kingdom first in
yourself, through a passionate love for Christ that looks at the Church supernaturally.
“It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in
Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign,” he said. “It means
not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal.”
Second: Build the Kingdom through an
integral, authentic life, not a compartmentalized one. “It means overcoming
every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of
freedom and happiness,” he said. “It also means rejecting a false dichotomy
between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it,
‘there is no human activity — even in secular affairs — which can be withdrawn
from God’s dominion.’”
Third: Build the Kingdom in
business, media, science, education — everywhere. “Praying fervently for the
coming of the Kingdom,” said the Pope, “also means being constantly alert for
the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of
This is the program God himself has
called us to. No election can make it a hopeless effort, just as no election
can make it unnecessary.
Now that the noise of the election
is over, let the real work begin.