Let’s share a secret: It’s great to be Catholic

Football coaches know about this because they hear it from fans all the time: What have you done for me lately?

One of the reasons Nick Saban left LSU for the NFL was his personal conviction that once he had won one national championship in Baton Rouge, the Tiger fan base would accept nothing less than another … and another … and another.

Of course, it pierces the Louisiana psyche that Saban has done just that at Alabama after failing to making his mark in the pros, but that’s beside the point. 

High expectations produce  equivalent levels of responsibility.

In a roundabout way, that’s what the Clarion Herald is endeavoring to do in this issue on pages 3-5 by detailing the incredible and often hidden missionary work of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

The Catholic Church in the U.S. has been assailed, and rightfully so, for its obvious sins, most recently for its failure to protect children from sexual abuse.

Thanks be to God, the sea change that created the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has produced concrete, indisputable results. No organization, no institution, no public school system in the U.S. has taken greater steps to protect children from the evils of sexual abuse than has the Catholic Church.

There is no way to defend or dismiss the sins throughout the centuries of members of the church who have acted with malicious intent.

However, any fair-minded person must recognize the reality that the Catholic Church has been the greatest force for good in the history of Western civilization: the monastic tradition, academia, scientific method, health care, economics, jurisprudence, the natural law, art, music and the dignity of life, which stems from the Judeo-Christian sensibility that we are created in the image and likeness of God and thus deserving of respect. 

Jaroslav Pelikan, professor of history at Yale University, explained in his introduction to “Jesus Through the Centuries”: “Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture. … If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”

Not much.

Take a look at the ministries of the Archdiocese of New Orleans over the next three pages. We ran this list two weeks ago in Gambit to let non-Catholic readers in on our little secret. Catholic education in New Orleans started in 1727, 10 years after the founding of the city. Religious women and men staffed the first hospitals, educated our children and buried the dead.

Today, the mission of Catholic Church is alive and well in so many ways: fighting homelessness, sheltering victims of HIV/AIDS, providing counseling to the distraught.

The Catholic Church in New Orleans continues to fight for the underdog and win – day after day, year after year. It’s great to be Catholic.

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org.

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