Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Gospel is the only hammer in Archbishop Nienstedt's toolbox!

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If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening, all over the land.
I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom,
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
all over this land.

Archbishop John Nienstedt in the Catholic Spirit: These verses, made famous by singers Peter, Paul and Mary, came to mind after reading a highly biased editorial in last Sunday’s Star Tribune.

The writer reported that I have spent the last year “hammering” the poor people of God in this column on the issue of abortion. Regular readers of my Catholic Spirit reflections know that this is simply not true. I am not a “one issue” archbishop.

Last fall, I joined my voice with the Minnesota Coun­cil of Churches in a public effort to end poverty in this state within the next decade. I have written letters to the governor and our legislators urging that they not resolve next year’s projected deficit on the backs of the poor. I have joined the bishops of this state on several occasions to promote more humane and compassionate policies and laws regarding immigration in our local communities, etc., etc.

Only one hammer here

The only “hammer” in my toolbox is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, from which the social teaching of the church is derived. And one of the most fundamental lessons in that teaching is “the right to life,” without which other rights are meaningless.

Indeed, if the life of the unborn can be sacrificed for reasons of convenience or self-interest, whose life is next? The poor? The elderly? The terminally ill?

Whenever I do speak on the evil of abortion, I always point out that we who object to its existence and legal protection must also be prepared to offer assistance to young women faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Often such young women think there is no other way out of their situation. We are obliged to help them find a morally satisfactory solution.

But the church and her institutions do no favor to the people of God or society at large by providing platforms or bestowing awards on those who publically oppose the clear teaching of the church on this or other fundamental truths. Dialogue we must with those who disagree. Listening is obviously a part of the dialogue. The issue of abortion is too important not to be engaged. But allowing a one-sided public speech or granting a prestigious degree to one whose track record is so obviously contrary to what the church believes is just not acceptable.

Again, the only “hammer” in my toolbox is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls each man and each woman to take sides. Either one is for Christ, or one is against him. There can be no compromise. Thus, with Peter, Paul and Mary, my pledge to you is:

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening, all over the land.
I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom,
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
all over this land.

God bless you!
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