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December 5, 2020

Kathryn Lopez: What if we turned off rhetoric?

By Kathryn Lopez

“Are you celebrating?” The Uber driver’s question took me a little off-guard. And then he may have gotten an earful from me. He was talking about the election. And my answer was “no.” There is nothing to celebrate when New York City was boarded up for election night, with the threat of violence looming on the chance that Donald Trump would win reelection.

There were literal fires election week around Washington Square Park. I watched one viral video of a woman spitting in the face of a police officer simply trying to keep the peace. I’m grateful for when police are around, because people are being crazy. I’ve never gotten so yelled at in my life as I have in recent weeks in Manhattan.

People are on edge. Election week included helicopters hovering overhead late into the night, a buzzing sound that wouldn’t quit. Of course, then there is all the noise we willingly subject ourselves to.

What if we all just turned off the endless angry rhetoric of cable news for a while, for the sakes of our hearts and minds?

And so now we will have the second Catholic president. That’s a tragedy and a scandal. The second Catholic president, representing a party that has the most radical abortion agenda, with the one legit pro-life Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski, leaving, having been primaried out of his seat by the abortion lobby. And let’s not get into the vice president-elect’s views on Catholicism.

And I don’t even know if I blame Joe Biden for this mess. He’s certainly had more than his fair share of suffering in his life. He wouldn’t be the only Catholic who has not read the catechism of the Catholic church. We have a long tradition here in the United States of, as Harvard professor and former ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon has put it, Catholics being either chameleons or turtles.

We blend in with the culture or we hide, hoping no one notices us. That’s not the Christian call, however. We need to be showing people that we are Christian by our love. The measure of our lives is love. By the way we are living our lives today, would anyone know it?

The news of Biden’s victory over President Trump came around the same time as the long-awaited report from the Vatican on Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. One of the most well-known and connected churchmen of recent times has turned out to be a criminal. Maybe by the time you read this column, I will have finished the 400-plus-page report, but I find it impossible to read any other way than slowly and prayerfully. It’s a searing examination of McCarrick and the people he abused, but it also portrays a poisoned culture, and I’m not just talking about within the church.

On the way to Mass at Old St. Patrick’s cathedral one gloomy fall morning, I noticed the words “good in bed” on a store window. It turns out they were part of an ad for sleepwear for women — something much more modest than the sex toys in the window down the block from St. Joseph’s in the Village, not too far away. You’ve got to wonder if the creepy, perverse oversexed nature of so much in our society is a cry for help, evidence of a buried longing for a transcendence other than the physical. Also on the way to St. Patrick’s is a mailbox with a unicorn decal of some sort that declares “I Hate Everything.” More than one person is feeling that way, as evidenced by a depressing recent Google search I did. What are we going to do about that? Neither Joe Biden nor a Vatican report is not going to fix it.

The late Cardinal John O’Connor, whose actions regarding McCarrick hold up well in the Vatican report, said that the most beautiful words of Jesus were “Father, forgive them, for they know now not what they do.” We should pray for forgiveness for all who contribute to a culture of death — and many of us do contribute, one way or another.

Life, light, love: Those are the things to celebrate, outside and inside politics.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute  and editor-at-large of National Review magazine. Email her klopez@
nationalreview.com.

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