When it comes to the media, nothing seems draw its members more than a group of Catholics who are protesting Church teaching. It doesn’t matter much where the protest is staged, outside of a local parish, a diocesan cathedral, a chancery office, or even at a bishops’ meeting. Listening to the protesters who are getting their “face time” on television, one might walk away with the mistaken impression that there’s absolutely nothing the Church has to say about anything that is of any worth for today’s world.
Arguably, the biggest protests—coming from those who claim “the People are the Church”—have to do with the Church’s alleged “misogyny.”
Contrast that image of publicity seekers with that of a group of Catholic obstetricians and gynecologists, MaterCare International (MCI).
The group’s purpose?
MCI is an international group of Catholic obstetricians and gynaecologists, which has adopted a preferential option for mothers and babies. MCI’s mission is to carry out the work of Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) by improving the lives and health of mothers and babies both born and unborn, through new initiatives of service, training, research, and advocacy designed to reduce the tragic levels of abortion world-wide and maternal and perinatal mortality, morbidity in developing countries.
Rather than succumb to the prevailing Zeitgeist to “organize, protest, and publicize” against Church teaching, MCI members quietly and unassumingly have devoted themselves to translate Church teaching into the actual practice of their lives by touching the lives of poor, downtrodden, and oppressed women. Evident in the facts of their lives, MCI members are turning what otherwise would be an important “profession” of care for women (and children, too) into a noble “vocation,” precisely as envisioned by the Second Vatican Council in its “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity” (DAL).
Among the projects MCI has sponsored:
- Since 1995, MCI has helped with and developed programs in Ghana, west Africa, to reduce tragically high levels of maternal mortality and morbidity and to treat mothers suffering from obstetric fistula.
- In Feburary 2009, introduced the “Comprehensive Rural Obstetrical Services and Training Program” for Vicariate of Isiolo, Kenya, which has one of the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in Africa. With virtually no obstetricians, nurses, or midwives, this project aims to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. This includes a maternity hospital that MCI is constructing.
- Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MCI worked with the Missionaries of Charity by providing medical help at their center in Port au Prince which had been overwhelmed by severely injured adults and children.
While the media crowds around protestors and hypes their many gripes about everything they think wrong with the Church, today’s disciples—like the members of MCI—take to heart what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus caritas est“:
If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties,” then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper,” but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. (#18)
With the culture of life under attack, MCI members provide a vibrant and authentic witness of charity as they fulfill their noble vocation:
…in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ. (DAL, #2d)
The “odor of sanctity”?
It’s not that of staged protests, invectives, and media hype followed by meals in sushi bars and “organic only” Manhattan restaurants, but that of a “leaven at work in the world” seeking the transformation of all things in Christ. Sort of like a fresh baked loaf taken from the oven ready to be broken to feed the needy! These selfless people are the Church.
To learn more about MaterCare, International, click on the following link:
To read the Second Vatican Council’s “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity,” click on the following link: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html
To read Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus caritas est,” click on the following link: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html