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Silence and Words

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January 24, 2012

By Stephen A. Trosley

I watched from the window of my house as my brother went to his car to find something. It was snowing: a gentle, quiet earth-fall of myriad miniature angels through the late-night sky.


He went past the car to the street corner and stood looking at the sky. He stood there a long time.


When he came in I asked him what he had been doing. “Enjoying the silence. Just reflecting on it,” he said.


Pope Benedict XVI has set the theme for the World Communications Day as Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization. It’s a wonderful coincidence that I would have a memory of my parish-priest brother reflecting on silence just a few weeks after penning an editorial for my former newspaper about the importance of filtering out the noise of the 2012 election year.


The national media love the cacophony and confusion – media attracts chaos-lovers – and the mighty machine will be serving a flood of trivia, tripe and truth for us to digest in the days ahead. We would do will to listen carefully and ponder before we decide to join the din.


And it is an incredibly important election year for Catholics and people of faith. When the incumbent president and his administration chooses to use his communications skills to mock our commitment to life and morality on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, we must consider the message in silence and counter it with the Word.


President Obama’s first slap is to require most religious institutions that offer health care plans to provide free contraception drugs and services, regardless of our moral beliefs. The backhand side of the slap came with his January 23 statement that Roe vs. Wade must be preserved “to protect our daughters’ dreams.”


To denigrate bringing life into the world as an obstacle to achieving some career dream is not only a grievously flawed rationale. It is an insult to the women who have found a way to be nurturing mothers and still be productive in the secular world.


And this comes just a week after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services imposed its free contraception mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on all insurance plans, with few exemption allowed for institutions that have a religious objection – when hundreds of waivers have already been granted on other ACA rules.


Writes Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “The HHS mandate puts many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable position. But it also harms society as a whole by undermining a long American tradition of respect for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”


This statement concludes: “We ask Congress, the Administration, and our fellow Americans to acknowledge this truth and work with us to reform the law accordingly.”


The administration wants to make Americans co-conspirators in its efforts to institutionalize these unacceptable immoral practices. We cannot support this effort.


So as the Holy Father advises on this World Communications Day, we must consider this in silence. We must consider our words and The Word Made Flesh. Then we must evangelize and pray for the conversion of those who promote and facilitate these practices, especially those in high public office.


Stephen Trosley is the Editor of The Catholic Telegraph

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