“Setting aside timidity and fear of giving offense, the Catholic Church should serve as a conscience for the nation.”

Russell Shaw looks at where we are — and where we are going — in these first troubled days of a new year, with a new president about to be sworn in.

He notes: 

The fear is that Biden, despite his old shoe, middle-American demeanor, has made common cause with the progressives, with people in universities, foundations, think tanks, federal courts, media, and big corporations egged on by left-leaning interest groups, who seek to reshape American institutions and American values to suit their highly secularized tastes.

To his credit, Biden says that as president he means to work for the restoration of national unity.

“We must unify the country,” he told reporters after the Capitol riot. But his policy agenda, specifically on social issues, clashes with the deeply held convictions of social conservatives, including many in the churches…

…Beyond talking about national unity, what steps will Biden take to close the gap between him and the significant body of Americans for whom abortion is, as the American bishops call it, a “preeminent” issue?

His conclusion is a rallying cry:

In the present circumstances, the role of the Catholic Church is both clear and difficult. Setting aside timidity and fear of giving offense, it should serve as a conscience for the nation.

The Church must stand against abortion, capital punishment, nuclear weapons, racial injustice and inequality, the abuse of women and neglect of the elderly, the plague of pornography, and all other offenses against the sanctity and dignity of life. It must defend the traditional family, protect migrants, and resist efforts — whether from the left or from the right — to silence religious voices. And it must call out the hate-mongers, merchants of suspicion, and traffickers in conspiracy theories who obstruct reasoned, respectful discourse and debate.

Recent events have not so much created a national crisis as shone light on the crisis that already existed. If Americans, against the odds, can now come together to address that crisis, the shock and horror at what happened at the Capitol will have served a useful purpose.

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