American Catholics are basking in the residual sunlight and the effects of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI this past week. However, there is no time for any one in the American Catholic Church to be complacent about implementing Benedict’s teachings. Even during the Papal visit, we were reminded of the severed disregard Catholic politicians hold for the sacredness of Eucharist and our teachings on the dignity and value of all human life. This past week, we had some politicians receive Holy Communion, although they publically proclaim Pro-Choice platforms, are divorced and remarried multiple times and provide legislative funding for abortions and immoral medical procedures.

Welome to the plurality of the American Catholic Church. In the press, many are blaming the Pope for these insolent politicians for receiving Holy Communion. The blame is squarely on the shoulders of the people that organized these events. Both Archdioceses of New York and Washington, D.C. were aware of controversial politicians that intended to participate in the celebrations. This was the time for some Catholic political phone calls to ward off the potentially scandalous behavior. My point clearly is this: The reception of Holy Communion is for those properly disposed Catholics that adhere to the Church’s moral and ethical teachings. Holding a position contrary to Church teaching prohibits reception of Holy Communion.

With the Pope safely back in the Holy See, the responsibility to enforce and adhere to his admonitions are with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Benedict XVI clearly set the agenda for the bishops to follow; now it is time they step up and fulfill their responsibilities.

Having addressed the sex abuse scandal, all Catholics now need to make sure these crimes do not happen again. If indeed our American Catholic Church hopes to move past this event in our history, we need to focus on the hope the Eucharist and the Gospels bring to us each day.

A New Pentecost in the Church is essentially the goal towards Benedict points the entire Church. To accomplish this, we need to return to fostering our Catholic identity in our homes, our schools and our workplaces. Catholicism in the 21st century is a total commitment towards a lifestyle that is rooted in,”love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self!” Clearly, Benedict’s message calls all of his flock towards a deeper understanding of this vocational objective.

Always in mind for us, this year is the ongoing political saga of the Democratic Party’s primary races. We can start to effectively implement our Catholic moral and social teachings by the carefully considered privilege of our vote. Catholic political influence in the United States is a formidable influence and should be used to determine the effect of political campaigns.

Another issue that constantly occurs in our Catholic lives: we are the subject of disdain in the press and the media because of our views that enhance the dignity of human life and proclaim human rights as part of the entire human family. Well, we need to make our Catholic voices loudly know in the press, the media, in the ballot box and most especially in our financial resources. If a company, political party or secular group does not reflect Catholic moral, social and ethical teachings…write a letter of opposition, make a statement to your parish and most importantly…do not financially support their causes. Use every passive means necessary to stop public disregard and degradation towards our most sacred Catholic principles.

While working towards a New Pentecost in our Church, we also need to get deeply involved in sacramental participation as well. Catholics that do not attend Mass are not good Catholics. It is time for everyone that maintains a Catholic identity to frankly, “come home.” In addition, get to know the mystery of our Eucharistic faith with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. If indeed, American Catholics want to participate in the transformation of our domestic Church, we need to start on the most basic level…our local parish communities and participate fully.

Benedict’s trip will be remembered for his constant invitation to his followers to place all of their aspirations in Christ our Hope. It is up to us to keep the spirit of Benedict’s message of hope alive by initiating our faithfulness to each other, to the Church and to Christ.

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that writes on Catholic topics and issues. He writes daily at & “Nothing Left Unsaid!” is his daily column @ 

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