The Time for Complacent Catholicism is Over | Fr. Martin R. Tripole, S.J. | CWR
A reflection on faithful fortitude and a call to Catholic courage
When is the last time you saw someone display courage?
We know it exists among public servants: soldiers, policemen, firefighters. We know it existed among the first responders at 9/11. We find it in people who sacrifice their lives for the well-being of those dearest to them, such as a father who will dive into water to save a drowning son or daughter.
But how about in Catholicism? Does it demand courage to be a Catholic today? For most of our lives, the issue never arose. Traditional Christian values were commonly accepted in America: to put it succinctly, Catholic values and civic values largely coincided. But in recent times, we have come to realize that it doesn’t take courage to be a Catholic, but only a faithful Catholic. For example, it doesn’t take courage today to be a Catholic politician who is pro-choice, but it does to be one who is pro-life.
How ready are we to stand up for traditional Catholic values and beliefs today?
The Vatican has recently stressed the courage that marks men and women of deep commitment to the faith. Pope Francis called Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as Pope on February 28, 2013, an act of “a man of great courage and humility.” At the canonization Mass of John XXIII and John Paul II, Francis referred to the new saints as “two men of courage” who “bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.” The Pope fired up 500 youth at the Vatican on August 28, 2013, when he said, “I wanted to tell you this, to tell you: courage, go forward, make noise. . . . Please, go against the current. Be courageous, courageous: go against the current.” At his June 23, 2013, Angelus reflection, Francis urged everyone, especially youth, to “have the courage to go against the tide of current values that do not conform to the path of Jesus.”
But is Francis too quickly presuming that youth today experience a clash between the tide of current values and the path of Jesus?
"The days of comfortable Catholicism are past”
It would come as a bit of a shock, I think, to many Catholics comfortable with current developments in our society, to hear the Pope speak of a clash between current values and Jesus’ teaching. It would come as an even greater shock for them to hear the remarks of Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University, when he addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2014: