The word "secular" means "not bound by religious restrictions." In the world of the secular media, there is a constant effort to put down the Catholic Church for carrying forward the values that Christ preached, namely, the sacred character of the human person at every level of life and the sacred character of marriage and the family.
The secular world insists that there are no unbreakable principles, no moral absolutes. Every violation of God’s will can be rationalized, explained away, justified. This attitude has been described time and again by Pope Benedict XVI as "relativism," which is a fancy word for "everything goes."
Jesus said, "I have come to do the will of the Father," and to that end he surrendered in a spirit of truth and humility: "Not my will but thine be done."
Life is a test. The reward is heaven. The stakes are high.
Why do so many newspapers belittle and exploit the church for its human weaknesses?
They believe that we hold others to the highest standard, but fail to be perfect ourselves. They enjoy putting down the church whenever the opportunity presents itself because they see us as hypocrites.
But the truth is that the church defined itself as the sinful people of God. The good that we do in spite of the wounded souls among us, however, is quite astonishing.
Did you know that the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day at a savings of $18 billion for American taxpayers? Our graduates go on to college and graduate studies at the rate of 92 percent.
The church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students. It also has a nonprofit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people, not just Catholics, in the U.S. today.
And yet the press continually focuses on the negative, denigrating the Catholic Church whenever it can. United with other religious bodies, the church is a moral force that stands against the immorality that is so widespread in the world today.
Premarital sex is an epidemic, unwanted pregnancies and abortions abound, the divorce rate is over 50 percent, and broken homes and broken dreams flood society.
The church stands against this tide of failure, upholding marriage and the family at every turn. A small number of wayward priests who have been weeded out systematically have poisoned the image of the church and given cause for great scandal.
Bleeding from these self-inflicted wounds, the church is in agony but not without hope or determination to right the wrongs of the past.
More people attend Catholic Mass every Sunday to receive solace, comfort from their faith than all those who attend baseball, football, basketball, tennis and racing events for an entire year.
Catholics are nourished by the Eucharist and love their church in spite of the outside climate of hostility.
Jesus predicted that the secular world would hate the church, just as it hated him.
So remember: The servant is not greater than the master. Walk tall with your head high. Be a proud member of the most important nongovernmental organization in America. Speak up for your faith with pride and reverence.
Be proud that you are a Catholic.
Father John Catoir is a columnist for Catholic News Service.