|November 21, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA|
After this intense election,
as Catholics, where do we go?
The election is over. So where do we go from here?
We have known for a long time that the elites who govern and shape the direction of our society are deeply secularized and hostile to religious institutions and traditional values and beliefs. In this election, we see that their secular vision now shapes the priorities and concerns of the electorate.
We are living in a society that operates as if God does not exist, and one consequence is that we have lost a sense of what human life is all about. There is a widespread crisis of meaning in our society, reflected in popular culture, politics, law and education. We are a society that is now confused and conflicted about basic realities — the meaning of life and what makes for true happiness and human flourishing.
These are issues that cannot be addressed only by changing political administrations.
Unlike any election in my memory, there was very little talk this time about values — except for one, "civility." And it is true that the rhetoric and tactics in this election season were often vulgar and uncivilized.
But sadly, it seems that too often we define civility as just being more polite.
True civility is rooted in our common status as citizens who are responsible for our life together in society. In practice, true civility means demonstrating real respect for other people — even if we are deeply opposed to their "positions" on issues or even their worldview.
If it is going to mean anything, civility must reflect our common search for what is true and what is good — for individuals and for society. And in the aftermath of this election, the search for truth and goodness becomes even more precious and more crucial.
We are living now in a society that has lost contact with the truth — not only with the truth about God, but also the truth about human nature and what is good for people. What we see in the extremes is a notion that there is no truth, no human nature. Only opinions, only choices that we make in "self-creating" our own truths, in self-defining what is good "for us."
So truth is important, vital. And the Church may be the last institution in our society that believes in the truth.
In the wake of this election, we cannot get discouraged or give in to the tendencies toward anger and resentment that we see everywhere in our society.
The Gospel is still good news that every person longs to hear — the good news that everyone is born with sacred dignity and a transcendent destiny; the good news that every person matters to God and that we are all made to live in love and friendship with him and with one another.
The truth is that God is real and he is still in charge of his creation — still in charge of history and still in charge of our lives. This is our hope. And our hope will not disappoint, because our hope is in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life.
So where do we go from here?
We keep our eyes on Jesus Christ and we keep following him. We remember who we are, where we came from and who God calls us to be. That means we live as Catholics first, as Christians first. This is our identity.
We are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives. Before everything else, we are followers of Christ — children of God, made in his image, called to be saints and to work for his kingdom, which is the family of God on earth.
Following Jesus, we need to continue to proclaim the truth and oppose the false paths to human happiness that we see in our society. We need to continue the struggle for dignity and resist everything that threatens to diminish the nobility of the human person as a child of God.
We need to do it all with love, as people of compassion and mercy. And in this time of division and confusion, we need to promote solidarity and reconciliation.
If we want America to be greater, then we need men and women like you and me who are committed to serving God and living the truths we believe in every aspect of our lives.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary watch over our country and help us to come together to meet the great challenges of this moment.
(Most Rev. José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles.)
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