Deacon Joseph B. Gorini, Mechanicsburg PA
Catholic Action; Faithful Citizenship – Volume 1, Part 1
“Catholic Action” is the organized work of the laity that is performed under the direction or mandate of a bishop in the fields of dogma, morals, liturgy, education, and charity. In 1927 Pope Pius XI gave the term its classical definition as “the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy.” During the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Catholic principle of “apostolic action,” on the part of the laity, was further developed and highlighted in several documents, most notably in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, which states: “The laity derive their right and duty with respect to the apostolate from their union with Christ their head.”
Applying this principle in 2007, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the grave moral issues of our time and called the laity to fulfillment of Christian political responsibility. However, many Catholics remain uninformed or misinformed about their solemn duty of political responsibility. Also, many Catholics are confused by the many voices that would deter them from their duty or misdirect their efforts. But, a Catholic’s obligation is to attend to the voice of his or her shepherd – Jesus Christ, whose authentic voice is manifested through the Magisterium of the Church. Unfortunately, some who continue to call themselves “Catholic” are by virtue of their beliefs and actions “dissidents” – dissenters, perhaps “heretics.” Clearly, this is a serious matter affecting both one’s personal salvation and the common good.
The urgent need for Catholic Action in our day, time and place, and the characteristics of authentic Catholic Action will be developed as this column develops. It will be important to be well grounded in a few facts: (1) Catholic Action is about proclaiming the Truth of God, in season or out, in the public square as well as within the family and Church; (2) God’s Truth, and therefore Catholic Action, is about “theology” and not about “political ideology.” Indeed if one steps out of the boat, so to speak, it matters not whether one gets out on the “right” or the “left” (politically speaking) – such a one has left the safety of the boat and is in the water!