Preaching to the choir on life issues

Lots of folks who work in Catholic ministry, myself included, are often asked if the bulk of what we do is in the end just nothing more than preaching to the choir.

While it may be true that those of us who are involved in any number of Church-related activities do spend a lot of time with the so-called choir members, my response is usually in the form of another question: “Have you heard the choir lately?”

It’s not exactly breaking news that about 60 percent of Catholics in this country are not attending Mass. And even among those sitting next to us in the pews, the 28 percent of Catholics who do attend weekly Mass, there are many who disagree strongly with the Catholic Church on a number of core teachings.

Case in point would be a very interesting phone call I received during a recent radio show. My guest that day was Dr. Monica Miller, a well-known and longtime pro-life activist who heads the Citizens for a Pro-life Society. She is also a theologian, a college professor and a prolific author. She was on my program to address the issue of using pictures of abortion victims in pro-life work.

The call came in from a man who identified himself as Frank from Ohio. He wasn’t calling with a question. Rather, he just wanted to share a comment. His comment, however, was certainly interesting considering my radio show broadcasts nationwide through the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.

Now this is where my “have you heard the choir lately?” point comes in.

One might think that listeners of Catholic radio are all on key when it comes to Church teaching. It’s one big happy family. Not the case with our friend from the Buckeye state.

He was polite enough, but his statement was rather shocking to say the least.

“You’re never going to stop abortion,” said Frank.“So as far as I am concerned, we should just make sure abortions are done in a clean and safe environment such as a hospital or a doctor’s office, because no matter how many laws we pass, women are still going to have abortions.”

As you might imagine, Miller did a fine job of helping Frank see the lack of logic in his statement, while at the same time maintaining her composure. For me it served as a strong reminder of just how much work there is to do not only outside the Catholic faith, but right inside our very own parishes.

How could a Catholic radio listener — or any Catholic, for that matter — make such a statement that is not only obviously downright ridiculous if you follow the so-called thought process through?

I have been in full-time ministry for almost 15 years now, so I am well aware of how we are not always preaching to the choir. But I have to say Frank’s comments did cause me to ask for some input from other pro-life experts, including Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

“We know that until the Lord returns, people will lie, cheat, steal, be promiscuous, commit abortions, and sin in countless other ways. But the fact that they will continue to sin does not mean we allow people to own slaves or knock down our buildings with airplanes. We resist evil with determination — otherwise we become part of the evil,” Father Pavone told me.

The on-air call was a stark reminder that we are not by any means preaching to the choir. We should remember this as well as take this to prayer in hopes of reaching true harmony in addressing the intrinsic evils such as abortion that continue to plague our nation. 

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.