From Monsignor Charles Pope...
Pope Benedict XVI warned visiting U.S. bishops that “radical secularism” threatens the core values of American culture, and he called on the church in America, including politicians and other laypeople, to render “public moral witness” on crucial social issues.
This will call for greater courage and hard work than is evident in many clergy and laity in the Church today. Too often the instinct is to play it safe. And when we are outspoken it is only in the safety of like-minded family and friends. Public moral witness must begin with clergy but it cannot end there. Also public moral witness requires a deep commitment in terms of time and even money.
Increasingly for clergy, the pulpit cannot be a place for abstractions and generalities like “do good, avoid evil.” We have to speak clearly to the issues of our day and be willing to name them. Clear assessments like sin, mortal sin, hell, judgment, right, wrong, good, and evil, must once again find a place in our homilies. Further, we must name issues clearly, abortion, homosexual acts, fornication, contraception, neglect of the poor, greed, corruption and so forth. Ambiguity must give way to clarity. But clarity must also reflect charity. We are to speak the truth in love.
Parents too and every level of the laity must give clear moral witness to their children. Parents must be willing to raise and discipline their children and instruct them clearly in the faith and moral life. It is not enough to say what is taught, but good teaching must also address why. This takes courage and the sacrifice of time.
Catholics in general must be far more willing to enter the public square without apology or fear, and be willing to speak the truth in love. In so doing we must be willing to accept that we will be misquoted, misunderstood and ridiculed. We must accept that we will get it with both barrels and learn that, just because people are angry with us, does not mean we did anything wrong.
Opening with a dire assessment of the state of American society, the pope told the bishops that “powerful new cultural currents” have worn away the country’s traditional moral consensus, which was originally based on religious faith as well as ethical principles derived from natural law.
Yes, at only fifty years of age, I can remember a time when there was a general consensus on the basic moral issues. We had surely been wrong on race, but on most other matters there was a wide consensus that divorce, contraception, abortion, fornication, homosexual acts, disobedience and disrespect for authority by children, loud and obnoxious behavior, public lewdness, immodesty, and bad language were all wrong. I do not say we all lived these values perfectly in every way. But they were agreed upon benchmarks and were largely undisputed.
Whether they claim the authority of science or democracy, the pope said, militant secularists seek to stifle the Church’s proclamation of these “unchanging moral truths.” Such a movement inevitably leads to the prevalence of “reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.” - Source