“The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.”
These are tough times for the Holy Roman Catholic Church. That is, tough times for all faithful bishops, priests and lay men and women who wish to live and proclaim their faith in private and in public. No one, no government, no institution, no culture has the right to control one’s conscience, especially if they are faithful to God! A faithful Catholic is still greater than anything secular society can muster! I repeat - A faithful Catholic, a holy Catholic, is greater than anything our secular, modern, progressive, medically and artificially sustained culture can generate.
In the old days, the persecution of our faith was self-evident. It was bloody and you could smell it and see it for yourself. People were dragged from their homes, thrown into the streets, paraded before atheist authorities and decapitated in public squares. It was all done in the name of liberte, eqalite, fraternite. The language may change, but the propaganda, the slogan, the fruit stand ad never changes: “Come to us, we have the sweetest apples from this tree!”
Today, the persecution is much more sophisticated, clever and always concealed under the cloak of tolerance, freedom, love. But make no mistakes; there is nothing tolerant about those who oppose our Catholic faith. When voters in California went to the polls and approved a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman, all hell broke out in the streets of California. Gay activists went on the Internet and published hateful, spiteful, derogatory and inflammatory statements about Christianity and especially Catholicism. These same activists went on a vandalizing spree, breaking old stain glass windows of Churches and defacing them with blasphemous and vile statements. On the contrary, when the Governor of New York signed into law the “Marriage Equality Bill”, there was not a single peep of hatred from Archbishop Dolan or from any of the Catholic faithful. No effigies were burned of the governor or of gays and lesbians – unlike the burning effigies of the Pope and mockery by transvestites of priests and nuns in gay parades. In fact, when a reporter asked the Archbishop of New York if he had anything to say to gays and lesbians, he simply said, “I want you to know I love you.”
Hatred for our faith runs deep, and few know its history. While Gay History will now be taught in all California elementary schools (including Kindergarten) starting this year, Anti-Catholic bigotry in America is still not a part of the curriculum in any of the fifty States! It should be, but it isn’t because it’s still the only acceptable bigotry left in the U.S.
American Catholics are suffering for their fidelity and their faith. A few days ago, at least two Town Clerks in New York submitted a letter of resignation citing religious beliefs. They would prefer to resign rather than officiate same-sex marriages. Ken Runion told CBS 6 news, “I was surprised because we all take the oath of civil service and promise to follow the law…Regardless of personal beliefs, Same-Sex marriage is now legal and we have to follow the law.” Yes, like the blind leading the blind, or like sheep without a Shepherd. Funny! Is this the best logical argument that can be mustered from a Town Supervisor? When the Town Clerk took her oath, she swore to protect the laws of the land, not some futuristic laws. Second, if a law had been passed to euthanize people older than sixty, would we not see people resigning? I hope so!
Finally, we have the sad case of priests being verbally accosted in the United States and in Ireland where the child abuse scandals have hit hardest. Good priests, holy priests are placed in the same category as bad priests because they are, well… Catholic priests. The same categorizing would never be tolerated for Jews, Muslims or even politicians. A Judas will always be present in the Church just as there are politicians who would prefer to be called Caesar rather than Mr. President.
Progressive Catholics are calling for a change in the way the Church is structured. Some are calling for a Catholic Tahrir Square! But would we get better or worse? We still don’t know the outcome from the Egyptian revolution. On the Catholic side we have two thousand years of life and growth. The Roman Pontiff has survived a lot of coups, sackings, and invasions from the outside and, regrettably, from the inside! It seems as though God does know what he is doing. Are we supposed to believe that an elected Bishop could be better than a nominated Bishop? Has our democracy and right to vote given us fewer corrupt politicians, less secrets and more transparency?
In Ireland, the Prime Minister recently warned priests that they could face up to five years in prison if they do not report the names of individuals who have confessed the sin of child abuse. "After all", he said, "The Law of the Land supersedes all other laws." I guess that includes God's Law as well. I know many priests that would gladly spend five years in prison rather than break the seal of confession. I pray that faithful priests will continue to wear their collar in public, for a faithful priest is still greater than anything secular society can muster!
Let us pray for Christians, especially our Catholic brothers and sisters consecrated to the Lord who are persecuted for the Truth, and those lay Catholics who lose their jobs and suffer ridicule and persecution because they prefer to serve the Lord of Life rather than the Prince of Lies.