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The Stockdale Paradox, coined in the classic business book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, provides some excellent instruction on what to do when things go wrong. Never lose hope that you will prevail in the end, and wake up every morning and face the brutal facts of your reality. Both are necessary for success. Those of us in the church are good at the first part of this paradox, but are less honest about the second part.
On August 2, 2022, Kansas citizens voted “No” to a state constitutional amendment that would have allowed state legislators representing the people of Kansas to determine and pass laws that could place common sense restrictions on decisions to end pregnancies. All of this in defiance of natural law and Biblical truth. No one should be surprised. We live in a post-truth society, where truth is whatever one wants to make it and where freedom is understood to mean, “I can do whatever I want,” including things like identifying as a gender different from one’s biology at birth. No one should be surprised.
The “public institutions and the law set aside the ancient religion,” again. These are the exact words Pope Leo XIII used in 1891 when writing his foundational Catholic social teaching encyclical letter, Rerum Novarum. We have, indeed, repeated history. The law and public institutions (like governments) have set aside the ancient religion since the days of the Enlightenment, leaving morality amorphous; to be determined and defined by society. This was on full display yesterday.
With this vote, Kansans concerned for both the health of the mother and her child, do not have the public institution of the Kansas government, nor the law to lean upon. Yet, that real concern and love for both does not go away. As a matter of fact, given that Kansas is now bordered by states that have significant restrictions on aborting pregnancies, the state is likely to be a haven for those seeking mid-term abortions up to 22 weeks.
We can look at this as either as a blight, or as a God-sized opportunity. Might I suggest that God heard the prayers of hundreds-of-thousands of his faithful even given the outcome of the vote last night? He apparently heard our prayers when the Dobbs decision reversed Roe v. Wade a few months ago. We don’t know the “why” behind events like these, but we know “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)
God is calling us to be the Church even more so now.
Let’s start by facing the brutal facts of our reality, and not lose faith the truth will prevail.
But first, there is work to do! Love mothers who are in crisis pregnancy. Love fathers who are parties to crisis pregnancies. Give both of them hope for a healthy and prosperous future with their child. While we fought and gave generously to promote life through the law, our real work and the need for resources to do this work start now!
We call upon those with gifts of strategic planning and action to engage our parishes to build teams and communities that will bring the love of Jesus Christ alive for those who are faced with a crisis pregnancy. See Catholic initiatives Walking with Moms and the Gabriel Project, and more at HelpingKansasWomen.org This includes engaging with and volunteering for the work done in crisis pregnancy centers all over Kansas.
We call on those who pray without ceasing to pray for protection of those engaged in this great work. We call upon all parishioners to step into the void to support and love mothers, fathers, and newborn children given the opportunity to live due to this great work, else what was a crisis pregnancy could become a life of isolation and abandonment. We call on our parishioners to love and support mothers and fathers who made a choice to end a crisis pregnancy, yet must live with the thoughts and dreams of what-could-have-been for the rest of their lives. See Catholic initiatives Project Rachel and Project Joseph.
God has blessed us with an opportunity to follow, again, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to love others like he loves us. No one should be surprised. And no one should give up.