….Last week California voted overwhelmingly for Proposition One, which legalized abortion up to the moment of birth. The abortion industry put a lot of money into promoting fear among Californians: “If Prop One doesn’t pass, women will die and our rights will be forfeit. We cannot let the fascists take over!” Again we voted for irrational fear over rational faith. Most people don’t know that we essentially legalized infanticide, certainly not the man I was talked with yesterday after Mass (“you mean a doctor can now abort a child even while the mother is having contractions?!?!”). Yup.

Church leaders led a pitiful political attempt to block Prop One. It was, in my opinion, an egregious waste of time and money.  Do the bishops of California really think they can do better than the billionaires who have built and control our media culture? Church leaders should put our time and money, rather, into what we were ordained to do: education and worship, Word and Sacrament. In those two things, Church leadership has miserably failed over the last fifty years.

Gavin Newsom leads perhaps the most successful and aggressive political war against the Gospel in this country. He was baptized Catholic, attended Notre Dame des Victoires Catholic school here in San Francisco, and went to Santa Clara Jesuit University. He identifies himself as a “practicing Catholic” along with our President and Speaker of the House. It’s imperative that Church leaders ask themselves why our parishes and schools are failing to make disciples of Christ so badly.

Most Catholics have been worshipping backwards for fifty years in their parishes and have received a very poor education in their Catholic schools. What I mean by “backwards worship” is that most parishes celebrate the community more than they worship God, most obviously when the priest faces the people when he prays the Eucharistic prayer. What I mean by “very poor education” is that most Catholic schools and universities have adopted curricula almost indistinguishable from secular schools.

Rather than ineffective rearguard political activity, our bishops and priests should be reforming their parishes and schools. Until priests and bishops deliver God’s Word and Sacrament faithfully, we will continue to lose the culture war. We ordinary citizens cannot fix the archdiocese of San Francisco. We cannot restore the city of San Francisco, nor the state of California, nor the United States of America.

But we can teach our own children the truth; we can stop consuming anti-Catholic and fear-mongering propaganda; we can worship God rather than ourselves at Mass; we can pray the family rosary,  read good books, and watch good movies. We can build truly Catholic families, and truly Catholic parishes, and truly Catholic schools. It’s not that complicated, and not even that hard. But it is crunch time, friends. Catholic parishes and schools are failing. Every Catholic bishop, priest, and layperson has to decide what god he will serve. As for me and my parish (and school), we will serve the Lord….

The above comes from a Nov. 13 posting on Father Illo’s Blog. Father Illo is pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.