1st Wednesday of the month, slated for the so-called ‘catholic topics’; wide open here, since they’re all catholic topics. But if you’ll track with me in my compulsive post-election commentary, I do get to a decidedly catholic issue down at the end.

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I’ll say up front that although I was staunchly anti-Obama on account of his hideous record on abortion, and not particularly in agreement with him on a number of lesser issues (and let us not forget: McCain made my stomach turn, too), I’m thrilled with the historic milestone we’ve acheived as a nation.

Sorry that it is one – would that neither skin color nor ethnic origin played any role in politics — but given that there was a barrier to be broken, as well that we’ve gone and done it. Based on what I have seen of statistics and anecdotal reports at this time, I expect that if McCain had been the African-American candidate, he would have won. [Probably not by as much as Obama did, because democrats would have been campaigning very hard against him. But I think he would have won.]

Is there a kind of racism in this? Not nearly as much as some will say. I think more than anything, there is a whole section of the american population who is largely alienated from our two-party political system, but who is ready to be done, once and for all, with the legacy of slavery and racism that has plagued us from our nation’s founding.

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All the same, why the indifference to Obama’s record on abortion? And why is it that the GOP had such a hard time giving us even a mostly-pro-life candidate?

A friend writes privately, in response to a situation she has been dealing with in her personal life:

I am fed up beyond all reason that a zillion Catholic bishops can pound away at the fact that there are NO proportionate reasons at this time to vote for a pro-choice candidate when there is a pro-life one running too, and yet what happens?

If every Catholic in the US had obeyed their bishops, McCain would have won, pure and simple.

And here begins my one-word rant, that you will no doubt hear from me many times: Catechesis.

The church is desperate for it. Bless our current and previous popes, who have done enormous work on this front. Bless the many catholic writers, publishers, priests, religious and lay faithful who are doing their best in the work of instructing the ignorant. The information is out there. But it needs to get into the heads of ordinary catholics.

I am not yet talking here of lapsed catholics, of self-identified ‘catholics’ who attend some other church or no church at all. I am not even thinking first of all of catholics who come to church on sundays (some, most or all, depending on their personal situation), but who are otherwise relatively uninvolved in the life of the church. Let us begin with the lay leadership of the church. Let us begin, most desperately, with our catechists.

–> The situation is that bad. Why don’t ordinary self-identified catholics feel strongly about the need to vote for pro-life candidates? Well, why aren’t ordinary, loving, committed, enthusiastic, hard-working catechists able to keep straight the basic facts of the Nicene Creed?

No hyperbole there. If you doubt me, do a check at your own parish. (And if your parish is an anomaly, you know it it. Quit your gloating and go say a rosary for the rest of us.) The technical knowledge of the basic facts of our faith is at times sorely lacking, even among the people whose job it is to spread that knowledge.

And here I have nothing but compassion. The catechists I know really are committed to doing the best job they can, and really do volunteer their time out of a genuine love for God and for the children they teach. I’m sure I’ve botched explanations when I’ve been teaching, and know for a fact that my best intentions do very little to make up for limited classroom experience. I realize that knowledge alone is not enough to bridge the gap and connect with students – even after you yourself understand a topic, there is a whole art in getting the information out of your own head and into someone else’s. I speak of the need for training catechists not as some elite superior instructor, but as one of the willing-but-desperate who wants for the training.

[And my friend whose complaint I shared above? She’s earned her right to complain – if it weren’t for her guidance, my students would be suffering even more at my hands than they currently must. Good teacher, and good teacher of teachers.]

Anyway, that’s where I am this morning. Wake-up to the news that our nation has voted for the most strongly pro-abortion candidate in history, and I have to say that I’m not all that surprised. If we catholics don’t know our own faith, don’t really know how to think about right and wrong, about the proper place of God and man, who are we to expect anyone else to do better?

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