February is Catholic Press Month, and as the editor of a Catholic newspaper, it’s my job to write a column celebrating the Catholic press.
In addition, this year I’ll write a column celebrating the Catholic Church, its art and beauty and longevity, despite the frailty of its adherents.
Frankly, it’s been a hard year for all of us. Scandals, squabbles, corruption – it’s hard to know where to begin. Cardinals have fallen from public grace – McCarrick, most notably, who inexplicably rose to the top while spending his vocational life openly mocking the truths he purported to profess – but also Wuerl, for his handling of old abuse cases, among other things, and Pell, convicted in Australian courts of abuse as well.
News coming out on Catholic news wires has an almost soap-operatic flavor at times, as we become privy to some of the uglier disagreements among Vatican elites. Meanwhile, in the secular press – more talk of euthanasia, a self-proclaimed “Catholic” New York governor cheering as he signs away the lives of thousands (or millions) of prenatal children, and on and on.
I needn’t go on. It’s been disheartening. But the one thing we know, whether cradle Catholics or converts, is our belief in the institution of the Church, regardless of individual sins, despite flawed humanity. We pray the Creed at every Mass. We know what we believe.
So, we press on. We celebrate the timeless truths of Christianity – whether they are trendy or not – and the goodness, self-mastery and dignity they bring to our lives, and we strive to emulate those who embody the best of Christian virtue.
We celebrate Pope Francis, a man whose humility and seemingly inexhaustible supply of love informs a worldwide ministry. We celebrate Bishop Powers – what a blessing to have a leader so dedicated to transparency, someone who is working with parishes, Chancery staff and priests to ensure a solid future for our local church. We celebrate our priests and deacons and religious – their gifts, their sacrifices, their dedication. We celebrate the laypeople who give their time, talents and treasure to uphold our parish and diocesan communities.
And, it doesn’t end there. We celebrate the moments when we choose good over evil, when a loved one overcomes addiction, a pregnant teenager chooses life for her child or a dying man returns to God. We celebrate couples who slog through difficult times in their marriage, instead of simply giving up. When our eyes are fixed on heaven, we have much to celebrate.
“A Christian brings peace to others,” Pope Francis said. “Not only peace, but also love, kindness, faithfulness and joy.” In the Catholic press, we view the world through a Catholic lens, and we celebrate the best of humanity. Even when we – as a Church, as a community, as individuals – are not at our best, we still have God’s love and mercy. That should always bring us joy.