You know what is a pro-life issue? Paid family leave.
You know what Catholics should be 100% behind? Paid family leave.
You know what was just removed from the Build Back Better Plan because of conservative (supposedly Christian) politicians? Paid family leave.
But this is not a post about one particular issue. This is a post about how Catholics have apparently stopped believing in care for one another.
Over the recent past, I have seen an inexplicable uptick by the more vocal lay Catholics in America, highlighting personal sin and personal faith and personal freedom over the communal sin that blankets our societal systems.
We’ve become numb to the systems we are living in, believing that the way things are is right and okay because that is what we’ve “always” had or because “it worked for me, so why should I support anything different.”
We’ve forgotten that sometimes we need to overhaul a system instead of weaving around the loopholes, trying to make it work for us. Or we’ve forgotten that just because we’ve made the system work for us, it is not working for everybody.
Things are the way they are because we make them so. We live in a country where we are graced with the freedom to make decisions and influence society. And all of us have a moral compass that will guide us towards truth and goodness if we allow ourselves to be led.
When we really start to think about social issues, including paid family leave, supporting structures that support our people as a whole makes complete sense for everybody.
Particularly if you are a country who claims family values to be at the core of its foundation.
Instead of getting caught up in the politics of the issues in front of us, I suggest that we return to our faith for guidance. Look to scripture, look to papal encyclicals, and, most definitely, look to the people and organizations who are sitting with those most in need.
It is not enough to be okay with the status quo. All is not right in the world and we, as Catholics, as Christians, as human beings, know deep in our hearts that this is undeniably true. We can do better.
Especially if we are a Catholic who believes in a just world.
Especially if we are a Christian who believes that family is the center of our lives.
Especially if we are pro-life and believe the most fragile among us deserve to be cared for.
Especially if we are human and know in our hearts that a society worth living in is one in which everybody has the opportunity to live.
For a more detailed and nuanced article on the issue of paid parental leave from a Catholic perspective, please read Dr. Annie Selek’s “What the Church Owes Families” in Commonweal magazine.
If you want to start digging in to how the church feels about particular social issues, here are a few links to get you started. Some documents are long and heady, but so amazing to read through. Often, I happen upon a passage and think, AH, so the pope (or the USCCB) is seeing what I’m seeing! What a relief.
For USCCB pastoral letters and papal encyclicals on:
Racism (USCCB): Open Wide Our Hearts
Racism (shorter version) : Open Wide Our Hearts bulletin insert
The Environment (papal encyclical): Laudato Si’
The Environment (short USCCB summary of Church teaching from 1967-2013): Care for Creation and Stewardship of the Earth
On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty (papal encyclical): Pacem in Terris