I’m having one of those “What would Fr. Neuhaus say moments again.
But, truth be told, they’re frequent.
This one came after reading my friend David French’s essay on Catholic and Mormons leading on marriage and life. And evangelicals’ current lack of leadership on the same.
David is evangelical — one of the founders of a group called Evangelicals for Romney back in 2007-8 — so he can say such a thing more quickly than, say, someone writing for a site called CatholicVote might. But, being Catholic, I wonder if he gives us a tad too much credit.
David was wowed by the groups of young, enthusiastic young Catholics he encountered at the Students for Life Conference during the weekend of the March for Life.
I missed the Students for Life Conference this year, but I can imagine there was much to be wowed by. Simultaneously, there was an impressive group of young Catholics in Baltimore, at a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) regional conference. And, at the same time, I was at Georgetown (of all places) speaking at a conference in honor of Cardinal O’Connor (mentioned here Friday), also on the defense of human life, at Georgetown of all placs. When I put together a photo gallery of this year’s march for National Review Online, it was impossible to be all that ecumenical in the tour: Everywhere I had turned, I saw Our Lady of Somewhere church, an image of the Blessed Sacrament, a Saint.
But back to David. He writes:
As devout Catholics and faithful Mormons step forward boldly, evangelical Protestants appear in cultural disarray. The most popular of the new generation of evangelical pastors—Rick Warren and Joel Osteen—stay out of the cultural fray. Evangelical youth may have orthodox opinions on marriage or life, but they’re increasingly reluctant to voice those opinions, lest they appear “divisive” or “intolerant.” In fact, at times it appears as if much of the evangelical world has retreated into a defensive crouch, eager to promote its universally-loved work for the poor while abjectly apologizing for the cultural battles of years past.
While grateful for the Mormon and Catholic leadership – I think David is right-on about that, I hope that’s not true about the evangelicals. I think the pro-life movements, in particular, benefitted greatly from evangelicals and Catholics working together, rallying around Evangelium Vitae. Some of the most beautiful remembrances of John Paul II, when he died in 2005, were from evangelicals who had been so moved by his witness and teaching.
And I also hope no one takes too much time to pat himself on the back. We have some amazing young people around us, earnest, thirsty for the Eucharist and Gospel, and service in His name. But we have a lot of work to do — catechetical, for fundamental starters. Keep looking ahead, while learning from the past, leaving mistakes both personal and very public, to His mercy. And, working with our Mormon friends, evangelical friends, and anyone who cares to listen. If we’re truly living the Word, they’ll be watching. Catholics, too. Maybe especially.