VATICAN - WORDS OF DOCTRINE -
Division among Catholics does not help religious freedom.
Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello
Vatican City (Fides Service) - In Turkey Christians are murdered, in Italy the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference receives threats, in Rome during at a massive May 1 pop music show, a rock star offends the Pope and the Church, for advocates of dialogue as an absolute value, 'exceptional' signals of intolerance, for the Church, 'normal' reactions to witness to Jesus Christ which Christians are called to give always and everywhere and which implies persecution and death.
To bear witness to Christ even at the cost of life, - from the Greek this is called martyrdom - is not an exception, it is the ordinary statute of the Christian. The Church knows that “among her prospects there is always martyrdom; among her convictions, that in her battle against evil no one can proclaim an armistice before the final coming of the Victor” (Giacomo Biffi, Spiritual exercises with Benedict XVI. Le cose di lassù, publishers, Cantagalli, Siena 2007 p. 163).
Therefore the faithful, who through baptism form the body of Christ which is the Church, living in the world keep well in mind Jesus' warning: “ You will be universally hated on account of my name ” (Mk 13,13), and “ But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven. ” (Mt 10,33).
The opinion expressed by the Spanish Bishops appears most realistic: “Christians living in democracy are tempted to try mistakenly to facilitate harmony by hiding or watering-down their identity or even, under certain circumstances, renouncing it. Behind this apparent generosity there is a lack of confidence in the lasting value and unchanging relevance of the Gospel and the Christian life. The message of Jesus and the teaching of the Church are of permanent value and without being watered down or subjected to the impositions of the present dominating secularist and hedonist culture, apply to every situation and respond to every human difficulty and need. The harmful consequences of such behaviour, characterised by impatient and irresponsible efforts to achieve a false harmony between Catholicism and secularism, have been a multiplication of recurrent domestic tensions and consequent weakening of the Church's credibility and life. In the language of events God is calling Catholics to strive with authenticity and fidelity, humility and unity, to offer co-citizens in a convincing manner the same gifts we have received, without dissimulation or deformation, dissent or concessions, which would obscure the splendour of the truth of God and the captivating power of his promises. Adequate education to democratic life will help us to constructively share life with those who think differently, compromising nothing of our Catholic identity. ” (Pastoral Instruction "Moral guidelines in the present situation in Spain", 23 November 2006, n. 26).
Before thinking about dialogue, Christians should meditate on the blood shed by the Lord humiliated on the cross and discern how much it cost Him to gather together the family of God which is the Church; therefore how harmful it is to dilute the wine of the faith with the water of the indifference of those with no interest in Christianity because they do not believe in God's Gospel (cfr 1 Pt 4,17) or wish to destroy it.
Could it be that some Catholics fool themselves that it is better to join the latter, perhaps in the name of certain values, rather than the other brothers and sisters in the faith in order to contribute to social and political life especially with regard to religious freedom?
Saint Ambrose, an expert in the edification of the polis, writes: “Let us speak then of the Lord Jesus, because he is Wisdom, he is the Word, he is the Word of God. In fact it is written. Open your mouth to the word of God. Those who echo his discourses and meditate his words spread them. When we speak of wisdom, it is of Him that we speak, when we speak of virtue, when we speak of justice, when we speak of peace, when we speak of truth, of life, of redemption, we speak of Him” (Comment on the psalms: Ps 36, 65;CSEL 64,123).
If this were not so Jesus Christ would be reduced to a pretext for speaking about values. Instead a Christian knows that to bear witness to Him implicates persecution. (Agenzia Fides 4/05/2007)