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As part of their new “identity campaign,” The United Church of Christ has launched a TV advertisement aimed to show that, “like Jesus — the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation,” according to the church’s Web site.
Unfortunately, rather than focusing on that welcoming message, the ad depicts two bouncers screening worshipers seeking to enter a generic Christian church, as if it were an exclusive night club. A well dressed white family is allowed in while black, Hispanic, handicapped and apparently homosexual worshipers are turned away. The ad returns to a positive theme at its conclusion, but by then the message has been made clear. The ad can viewed at www.stillspeaking.com.
It is regrettable that the United Church of Christ chose to produce an ad that attempts to build up its image at the expense of other denominations. The ad campaign is insulting to the millions of Christians — Catholics and others — who give of themselves, ministering and supporting the poor, minorities and the marginalized in our society.
In the Catholic Church, worshipers are not asked about their bank account balance, their political opinions, their marital status or their sex life. All are welcome, as children of God, to be part of the community of believers.
The Church does not classify individuals according to any single aspect of their lives. Characteristics such as race, age, ability, economic wealth or sexual orientation help define who we are, but a person is much more than any single attribute. The Church, like Christ, welcomes and loves every person, no matter who they are — or what they are.
The Second Vatican Council addresses the inherent complexity of the human person saying that “In man himself many elements wrestle with one another. Thus, on the one hand, as a creature he experiences his limitations in a multitude of ways. On the other, he feels himself to be boundless in his desires and summoned to a higher life. Pulled by manifold attractions, he is constantly forced to choose among them and to renounce some. Indeed, as a weak and sinful being, he often does what he would not, and fails to do what he would. Hence he suffers from internal divisions and from these flow so many and such great discords in society.”
"This Man," John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical letter "is the way for the Church," because Christians are called to see Christ in each person. All human struggles are the struggles of the Church, mother and teacher.
As mother, the Church meets each person wherever they are in their life journey, and loves them, cares for them and welcomes them. As a teacher, the Church deals pastorally with whatever “internal divisions” individuals may have, always with the ultimate purpose of helping them to conclude their journey reaching the splendor of truth and the heavenly Jerusalem.