The Days of Wimpy Catholicism are Over

Robert P. George

Robert P. George

Speakers at the 10th National Catholic Prayer Breakfast are warning that the days of “comfortable Catholicism” are gone and the time has come to do battle with powerful new social currents that will make life tough for believers.

The Daily Caller is reporting on the event which took place on Tuesday at the Washington Hilton and featured keynote speakers Robert P. George and Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“My message for you today is a somber one,” said Professor Robert George, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. “The days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. …It’s not easy anymore. There are costs to discipleship, heavy costs that are burdensome to bear.”

He went on to elaborate on the “powerful forces and currents in our society that press us to be ashamed of the Gospel. For example, if you believe that marriage is the consensual union between a man and a woman, you’re portrayed as bigoted, even hateful. …If you believe these things, some forces say you are a bigot [who is] against homosexuality [and] you ought to be ashamed.”

We must be brave, George reminded again and again in his address to the over 800 attendants. “One can still be a comfortable Catholic, a tame Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel,” he said. On the other hand, “A Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed of the Gospel is in for a rough go.”

If we let it be known that we believe in the Gospel, we will become “a marked man or woman” and jeopardize our standing “in a polite society.” It may cost us friends and alienate us from family members.

These are dire times and Catholics must take an honest look at themselves and determine how they want to live their faith.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley“The question each of us must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I prepared to pay the price if I refuse to be ashamed?”

He added:  “There was a time when we could be comfortable Catholics. Those days are gone and they’re not coming back anytime soon.”

The growing hostility toward all things Christian is an indication that “the love affair with Jesus and the Gospel and his Church are over.”

Although he struck a lighter tone, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley issued similar warnings in his address, calling upon the faithful to embrace Pope Francis’ call to foster a “culture of encounter” with our fellow man.

“Our task is to turn consumers into disciples and disciples into disciple-makers,” he said. “We need to prepare people to witness to the faith and not to send people into the witness-protection program.”

According to the National Catholic Register, he pointed out that the Church has always dealt with unbelief, particularly during its beginnings in the pagan Roman Empire. The difference is that past persecutions centered on revealed doctrines, today’s hostility toward the Church is directed at her teaching on the dignity of the human person.

This is why the Church’s defense of the unborn and the sacredness of marriage “makes us seem quaint or nettlesome,” in today’s culture.

It’s also why the U.S. and Europe are now the toughest mission assignments in the Church. Our culture emulates “superficial and self-absorbed” celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jay-Z, rather than the saints whose lives were truly courageous.

The bottom line is that wimpy Catholicism is yesterday. Now is the time for courageous witness.

“Will we be like the other disciples and flee in fear?” George asked. “Will we silently acquiesce to the demolition of human lives and the destruction of marriage?”

Regardless of the shallowness of the times we live in, “courage and cowardice” is still what makes history.

“My friends, the Gospel is true, and that is the most important thing to know,” George concluded. “We’re betting our whole lives on it.”

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