A Good Catholic?

She's an ardent feminist, she supports abortion, she's even been named the new president of Planned Parenthood . . . and she's a practicing Catholic. I'm talking about Pamela Maraldo, a nurse who recently became the national head of Planned Parenthood. It may seem odd for a member of the Catholic church, which steadfastly opposes abortion, to accept leadership in Planned Parenthood, which steadfastly supports abortion. But that doesn't seem to faze Ms. Maraldo. She says flatly that the Catholic church is "out of touch" with its own followers.   "I go to church on Sunday," she told the New York Times, "but I don't subscribe to many of the basic tenets of the Church." And here's the clincher: "That does not mean," she added, that "I am any less a Catholic." In other words, Ms. Maraldo feels she can openly reject the teachings of the church without becoming any less faithful to the church—a curious form of allegiance. Yet this view of the church is not really uncommon. Many people go to church primarily for comfort and emotional warmth. They regard its message not as divine revelation but as human inspiration, from which they can pick and choose what feels right for them. They're not interested in ordering their lives by universal and transcendent truths; they just want something that makes them feel better. Historian Herbert Schlossberg remarks that we are a society that has exchanged truth for sentiment: We would rather feel good than be good. Of course, being good is much more demanding. It requires excruciating honesty about our failures and shortcomings, the humility of confession and repentance, and the moral will to do right even when it is hard or unpleasant. The job of the church is to help believers develop this kind of moral backbone. As I write in my new book, The Body, the purpose of the church is not to make people happy, it is to make people holy. I'm not saying the church should not meet our needs, of course. But it can do that only when it faithfully preaches the truth. God's Word is precisely what will meet our deepest needs and give us true fulfillment. This is the connection many people miss. I'm reminded of an interview with Marla Maples, Donald Trump's "other woman" when he divorced his wife. She claimed that she believed the Bible and then added, "But you can't always take [it] literally and be happy." This is the supermarket version of Christianity: Take what makes you happy and leave the rest. It also seems to be the form of Catholicism embraced by Pamela Maraldo. No doubt, Planned Parenthood will flaunt its new president in an attempt to soften religious opposition to abortion. And we need to be diligent in warning our congregations that just because a prominent person claims to be a Christian, that does not mean all his or her views are sound. In our day, it may be a way of promoting views that are profoundly anti-Christian.


Chuck Colson


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