Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Takes Courage to Speak the Truth

But What is the Alternative?

Monsignor Charles Pope of the Washington DC Catholic Diocese lets the truth be his guide.  He seeks it, and he finds it.  He seeks it with his heart, and so he finds it with his heart.

On the Diocesan blog site, he writes about St. Ambrose and the Emperor Theodosius, and St. Ambrose letter to the Emperor that led him to deeper conversion, and probably saved his immortal soul.  When presented with evil, St. Ambrose did not back down, but addressed it appropriately, and firmly, in what we now know as his letter number 51, though he probably was very nervous to do so.  It was the Emperor after all, who had the power of life and death over his mortal body.

Monsignor Pope's disclaimer, which is more an exhortation is telling:
I do not relate this story to critique the modern struggle of some bishops (and priests) to speak the truth to those in power. I write rather to encourage us all by an epic tale from the past. It remains true that every bishop has to make prudential judgments in each situation based on the individual politician or prominent person involved, what is best for the faithful, and the common good. Some have judged to speak forth as Ambrose. Others in different circumstances are still pursuing quiet measures. Still others judge that public rebukes in the circumstances they face will only make heroes of the one rebuked. It is a prudential judgment that every bishop has to make. A bishop in the Midwest may face one set of circumstances, a bishop in the northeast another set. The faithful do well to encourage their bishops and priests and pray for them to make good judgments in this regard.
We do well to encourage our bishops and priests by our prayers for them, and by our kindness and love towards them.  We do not do well to criticise them, to judge them, to harrass them, when we do not know all the facts of particular situations, but have just enough knowledge to form an opinion, and then feel it necessary to in turn share that opinion. 

We do well to stand up for what is right, always, and sometimes that balance between the two above options can appear fuzzy.  Humble prayer is a good antidote for fuzziness.

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