EDITOR’S NOTE: Emily Stimpson is a contributing editor to Our Sunday Visitor. Please welcome her to the CV Blog.
What’s so great about Rick Santorum? That’s a question lots of people have been asking as of late. And not without reason.
After all, on the surface certain obvious qualities we’d love to have in a president are missing from Santorum: Executive leadership experience, a proven track record of electability, strong rhetorical skills, etc.
When people voice those concerns, I don’t disagree. Unlike some folks at CatholicVote, I haven’t decided to hop unequivocally on the Rick Santorum train just yet.
Nevertheless, I’m grateful for his candidacy. I’m grateful because he’s such a consistent witness to the sanctity of life, and I’m grateful because he’s doing what so many other Catholic leaders—in both the Church and culture—aren’t doing: He’s living the fullness of the Church’s teachings on marriage.
A few days ago, while working on a story for Our Sunday Visitor about the New Evangelization, I spoke with Curtis Martin, Focus President and one of the two Americans named as consultors to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. At one point in the conversation, I asked Martin to name some of the obstacles preventing the New Evangelization from bearing the fruit it’s meant to bear.
His first answer? The number of Catholic leaders—diocesan administrators, teachers, catechists, etc.—who choose to contracept. (And if you don’t think that number is legion, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for you.)
His answer wasn’t what I was expecting. But he’s right.
Those contracepting Catholic leaders aren’t just dissenting from core Church teachings on sexuality, marriage, and the dignity of the human person. They’re dissenting from the Church’s teachings about herself—about who she is and by whose authority she teaches. They’re dissenting, in deed and belief, from the fullness of the Faith.
Which means they aren’t going to pass on the fullness of the Faith to anyone. How can they when they’ve broken from it in such a deep and personal way? How can they help others love and trust the Church, when they don’t trust her themselves? Their witness has been compromised by their own weakness, whether of will or understanding, and for as long as their witness remains compromised, so does the work of the New Evangelization.
But not Rick Santorum. Yes, he’s a politician, not a catechist. And no, he doesn’t subscribe to every non-magisterial, non-doctrinal white paper penned by mid-level staffers at the USCCB (or, to be fair, some penned by those much higher up), nor does he always defend the Church’s teachings on sexuality in the most politic of ways.
But he believes those teachings. He loves them. And he lives them…or at least seems to try his darnedest. People see that. They see what’s possible when a life is lived in full accord with Truth, and they see just how beautiful, how life-giving, those truths can be.
That will bear fruit. And the more Catholic leaders we have like him, in both the corridors of Washington and the corridors of chancery offices, the more fruit we’ll see.