We all have a duty to stand up for the Church’s teachings on the issues of the day and what is right. Register file photo

Charles Lewis: We must find the courage to take a stand

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  • September 30, 2020

I gave a talk some years ago to the Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild of Toronto. It was about the media and religion but because it was the hot issue of the day I spoke in part about the need for the Catholic Church as an institution to do more to combat the then proposed legalization of euthanasia.

Afterward, a man approached me to take umbrage with what I had to say. He felt it was a cop-out to blame the institutional Church when we are all the body of Christ.

All of us bear the responsibility to fight for our beliefs, he said. He was right.

While the institutional Church should be out front on these battles that does not let the people in the pews off the hook. Besides, as individuals we are more nimble. There is no bureaucracy to slow us down.

The question is, though, what can each of us do given the reality of our busy lives.

If you have a job, if you and your spouse both have jobs, as well as children who also happen to play hockey and take dance lessons and have after-school activities and homework and sleepovers and so on, you barely have time to sleep let alone be a crusader. Making it to Sunday Mass is a great accomplishment.

Yet there is something we can do that does not take much time or energy. It is a simple thing that should be a natural outgrowth of who we are as citizens and as Catholics.

Here it is: Witness to the degeneration of the moral fibre of our country. Witness to the increasing attack on religious freedom or the plan to expand euthanasia (Bill C-7) and the still criminal lack of good palliative care or the plan to make counselling children against undergoing a sex change (Bill C-8) a crime.

There are many other issues, from the greater acceptability and access to pornography to ultra-liberal sex education curriculums.

So what to do?

1. First, pick one issue that stirs your heart and become fluent. This is not hard to do. There are many good articles from this newspaper and other reliable Catholic sources laying out these vital issues in plain language. Make sure to learn what the counter-arguments are and how to deal with them. For example, many will say euthanasia is a personal choice and nothing to do with you. You need to be prepared to knock that argument down calmly with rational answers

2. You must really believe what you say. This might sound obvious, but many Catholics will parrot what the Church says but live a different way. So if you say you are against abortion or euthanasia but in your own mind you can see “exceptions,” your waffling will come out and you will convince no one.

When I was speaking out in Catholic parishes against legalized euthanasia I handed out cards from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. All that was needed was to sign it and mail it — a process that might take five minutes at most. Yet I would often meet people who had attended one of these talks and they would admit, somewhat sheepishly, that they never got around to mailing it.

It was not only lazy but it belayed the fact that many of these people were not committed to opposing euthanasia. Which means that they did not take their own faith seriously.

3. You must find the courage to do this. It can be frightening to take a stand that is unpopular, even in front of one person. Many are afraid of consequences. But ask yourself: What consequences? This is not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. You will not be taken away in the middle of the night. Even those who find fault with your arguments will think about them later. You will have planted a seed.

When you do feel fear then pause for a moment and think of those Christians in China and the Middle East who have real reason to fear for their lives and yet dare to speak out.

Do not delay on this. See it as a duty. Besides, it is more fun to be the outlier.

Christ never said it would be easy. The easy way leads nowhere. The hard route terminates in Heaven.

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

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