Following the Lead of Pope Benedict XVI, It is Time for Christians to Engage with the World
For weeks I have experienced Christians walking around like forlorn warriors
This 85 year old Pope just showed us how to effectively engage our culture. On Wednesday December 20, 2012, he wrote an editorial for the Financial Times. That's right, the Financial Times! Not a "religious publication", and not the kind of venue many would think of utilizing. Why? That, in and of itself, teaches us a vital lesson. The article was entitled "A Time for Christians to Engage with the World". It is a masterful example of apologetics, rightly understood. I offer it below for study, imitation and example:
LONDON, UK (Catholic Online) - For weeks I have experienced Christians walking around looking, acting and speaking like forlorn warriors. No doubt, we are alive in a time of historic challenge for the Church. However, it is not without precedent. In fact, it is very much like other great missionary ages. The results will also be similar - the triumph of the truth which we proclaim - and the liberation which it brings to people, to families, to Nations and to all cultures.
For some, there is residual depression over the implications of elections past. It is time to acknowledge that the collapse of Western civilization will not be remedied by political movements alone. They are inadequate for the task. However, we cannot retreat from the culture. Part of our mission is to walk into the culture, filled with the love of God, equipped with the splendor of truth, and continue the work entrusted to us as Catholic Christians. We have been given a gift meant for the whole world.
We also need to take the risks that this new missionary age requires. It means being misunderstood, wrongly accused, disparaged and persecuted. For example, in offering the principles found in the Social Doctrine of the Church we need to be willing to be accused of being any number of the contemporary political labels being bandied about these days. What is most important is that what we proclaim really is the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. That means we have to study that body of teaching, pray through it, and then learn to articulate it properly in the public square and not simply in our own circles.
The principles and truths of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church are not liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. They are Christian. For example, the child in the home of the first human race, the womb, is our neighbor. The dignity of every human life from conception, throughout the entirety of life, and to a natural death, is not simply a religious position. It is the truth. It is revealed by the Natural Law which can be known by all men and women through reason. The humanity of our first neighbor in the womb is also confirmed by medical science. The human dignity of every human person is the basis for any insistence upon the existence of other rights. Rights are goods of human persons.
It was the Catholic Church which gave the West the understanding that this dignity of every human person is rooted in the truth that we are all created in the Image of God. From that foundation evolved the bold claim that we possess fundamental human rights endowed upon us by the God who created us and not given to us by any Civil Government. They must be recognized by Civil Government or it is an unjust government. We need to simply acknowledge that we live in a declining western culture which is increasingly hostile to the Church. Our struggle involves a clash of worldviews, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing.
Crippled by the culture of death and indoctrinated by what Pope Benedict XVI called a "Dictatorship of Relativism", the West has been seduced by the siren song of evil. It is deluded by the lies mouthed by a movement which purports to be progressive when it is regressive. In addition, evil runs rampant in our midst. The reality of the existence of evil became clear recently in Newtown, Connecticut when six and seven year old children were gunned down by a young man trapped in its hungry grip. We are made painfully aware of the need for the kind of hope which only comes from the God who is its source.
The Catholic Catechism warns of "sins against hope" (# 2091 and 2092).
In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to the leadership of the Diocese of Rome. He spoke of the need for an "Education to Hope". He expressed remorse over the fact that "our civilization and our culture [...] too often tend to place God in parentheses, to organize personal and social life without him, to maintain that nothing can be known of God, even to deny his existence. But, when God is laid aside, all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing. In order, then, to 'educate for hope' it is necessary, in the first place, to open our hearts, our intellects and all our lives to God, in order to be his credible witnesses among our fellow man."
This 85 year old Pope just showed us how to effectively engage our culture. On Wednesday December 20, 2012, he wrote an editorial for the British newspaper, the Financial Times. That's right, the Financial Times! Not a "religious publication", and not the kind of venue many would think of utilizing. Why? That, in and of itself, teaches us a vital lesson. The article was entitled "A Time for Christians to Engage with the World". It is a masterful example of apologetics, rightly understood. I offer it below for study, imitation and ...
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