"At the same time she senses, often painfully, the presence of division and polarization in her midst, as well as the troubling realization that many of the baptized, rather than acting as a spiritual leaven in the world, are inclined to embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the Gospel."
The Pope's solution to this problem of Catholics who fail to act as a saving sign of contradiction to the world and wind up contradicting their own mission echoes the work of the Parousians.
The challenges confronting us require a comprehensive and sound instruction in the truths of the faith. But they also call for cultivating a mindset, an intellectual “culture”, which is genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the urgent issues which affect the future of American society.
In order to be the spiritual leaven we are meant to be in the world, we must move past the polarization and division of secular and materialist ideologies that have infiltrated our ways of thinking by creating a genuinely Catholic intellectual culture.
There are still some dissenters in the Catholic Church who are hard pressed to agree with the Magisterium on anything. Why they have remained Catholic is anybody's guess. Most American dissenters are characterized as cafeteria Catholics, those who generally accept the tenets of the faith, but reject others because they do not line up with some outside divisive ideology, and competing divisive ideologies that do not conform to the fullness of faith are at the root of the disunion and distrust among American Catholics. The Holy Father has always been insistent that Catholicism minus a few troubling teachings plus a few incompatible trendy ideas is not Catholicism. As more than a few commentators noted on the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy, the cafeteria is closed.
The need to create a genuinely Catholic intellectual culture has been realized before this papacy. The novelist Walker Percy defended a consistent life ethic in his 1981 essay, "A View of Abortion, With Something to Offend Everybody."
Percy begins his essay noting the late twentieth century desensitized response to dying masses before offering his nagging diagnosis to the culture:
True legalized abortion - a million and a half fetuses flushed down the Disposall every year in this country - is yet another banal atrocity in a century where atrocities have become commonplace.
Percy realized this line of argument has already been made and immediately distances himself from the hypocrisy attributed to the pro-life movement.
The statement will probably offend one side in this already superheated debate, so I hasten in the interest of fairness and truth to offend the other side. What else can you do when some of your allies give you as big a pain as your opponents? I notice this about many so-called pro-lifers. They seem pro-life only on this one perfervid and politicized issue. The Reagan administration, for example, professes to be anti-abortion but has just recently decided in the interests of business that it is proper for infant-formula manufacturers to continue their hard sell in the Third World despite thousands of deaths from bottle feeding. And Senator Jesse Helms and the Moral Majority, who profess a reverence for unborn life, don't seem to care much about born life: poor women who don't get abortions have babies and can't feed them.
Percy then goes on with uncommon boldness in speaking the truth about abortion.
What I am writing this for is the egregious doublespeak that the abortionists - "pro-choicers," that is - seem to have hit on in the current rhetorical war.
Percy dismisses the disingenuous argument that opposition to abortion is a religious issue.
But I do submit that religion, philosophy, and private opinion have nothing to do with this issue. I further submit that it is commonplace of modern biology, known to every high-school student and no doubt to you the reader as well, that the life of every individual organism, human or not, begins with the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with the chromosomes of the ovum to form a new DNA complex that henceforth directs the ontogenesis of the organism.
Percy imagines the whole debate as a "Galileo trial in reverse," with the Supreme Court telling a high-school biology teacher that his position on scientific fact is only private belief which he must refrain from teaching, and the teacher submits while murmuring, "But it's still alive!"
Percy closes the essay with a prophetic warning, one that the pro-life movement has not quite fulfilled.
To pro-abortionists: According to opinion polls, it looks as if you may get your way. But you're not going to have it both ways. You're going to be told what you're doing.