If we keep compromising on our faith, like the Italian priest who took down a nativity scene, the Church eventually becomes irrelevant. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Comment: There is no excuse for compromising our faith

  • December 22, 2016

I just read about a priest in Italy who took down a crèche because he feared it would offend non-Christians. There was no indication he was forced to do it, but it seems he decided to be proactive just in case.

“Fr. Sante Braggie said that the site where the crèche has been set up in the past, in the public cemetery of Cremona, is clearly visible from the section of the cemetery reserved for deceased Muslims,” CatholicCulture.org reported. “The display ‘could be seen as a lack of respect’ not only for Muslims but for followers of other faiths, he said.”

Sante might have opted to see the crèche as a symbol of the birth of the Prince of Peace and of a faith followed by more than a billion people. Or even as a “welcome” sign to those who might be in need of Christ’s saving work. Instead, this small act became another example of a Catholid compromise — to our detriment.

Compromise is fine and even necessary in politics and other aspects of public life, but compromising on faith reduces truth to being just another opinion. Those like Sante, who are driven by an irrational fear of giving offence, will precipitate a morass of meaningless feelings without the backbone to stand up for what we believe when the time comes.

For many, that time has apparently already come.

We saw this recently when the bishops of Atlantic Canada put out a release to explain to priests and others what should happen to those who choose to die by euthanasia. The document said all the right things about how euthanasia was wrong and we really need more palliative care. But ultimately it failed by suggesting the sacraments could be dispensed to those who choose to end their lives through the grave sin of assisted death.

Even the title of the document, “Medical Aid in Dying,” employed, maybe unwittingly, the language of the pro-euthanasia camp. Everyone who dies naturally while under care receives “medical aid in dying” to ease their pain, but not to destroy life.

The bishops should have instead warned in stark language that the consequences for taking part in state-sanctioned self-murder is a denial of the sacraments. That would have been real compassion. It would have given Catholics great pause before ending their God-given lives. That would have been a true pro-life statement, one utterly compatible with the teachings of the Church.

Jesus spoke about humility and meekness in the Sermon on the Mount but He did not declare “moral uncertainty” as a Beatitude.

We are so unsure about the goodness of our faith we have begun to think of our beliefs as something more likely to cause distress than give comfort. If a crèche or a cross or a Jewish star or even a crescent are offensive to some, so what?

At some point all of us in the Church will have to decide just how much we can shift the line before we become another irrelevant sect that bends in the face of the silliest objections.

As we enter 2017, some 600 Canadians have died by way of legalized euthanasia. Proponents of legalized killing have cleverly sold this as medical aid in dying, but don’t be fooled. It is not medical aid, it is killing.

At the same time, we have governments entrenching transgender rights that will likely force people to substitute “zwok,” “crumpkin,” “fripkin” or “twok” for Mr., Ms or Miss. Indeed, failure to comply to this language in public institutions could lead to fines and other penalties from human rights tribunals that believe it is their right to makes us think and speak the same way.

Any refusal to comply will be seen by many outside of our faith as stubbornness and mean spiritedness. But that is not our problem. To paraphrase Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, we should not have to spend our time explaining ourselves to people who really do not like us to begin with.

What is at stake is preserving who we are. The Catholic Church is a tremendous force for good. No other institution gives as much and cares so much for every single soul. Nothing else has come along to take on that role; nothing ever will.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)

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