A memory came roaring back to me recently when I watched an angry crowd chanting, "Build that wall;" and again when I learned of young American teenagers at a basketball game taunting Hispanic youth: "We're going to build a wall that will keep you out." I wondered to myself: Have the efforts of the churches, and the synagogues and mosques as well, been any more than decorative, applying a thin veneer to a culture whose people are in desperate need of a deep capacity to recognize "the other" as sister and brother?
Have our churches ignored Paul VI's reminder that the one to be evangelized is "not an abstract being, but subject to social and economic questions" and that "there are profound links between evangelization and human advancement. . . "?
It was never meant to be amusing to say that Catholic social teaching is the best kept secret of our church. Now we are witnessing the deadly absence of these truths untold in audiences jeering as they attend debates, in verbal attacks of rivals and members of different nationalities and faiths, in rallies violently disrupted, and in actions in flagrant disregard of the U.S. Constitution.