Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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:

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, Financial Times. Christian hope, culture, A time for Christians to engage with the world, apologetics, evangelization, new Evangelization, Deacon Keith Fournier


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 example:

*****
A time for Christians to engage with the world
Pope Benedict XVI

"'Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,' was the response of Jesus when asked about paying taxes. His questioners, of course, were laying a trap for him. They wanted to force Him to take sides in the highly-charged political debate about Roman rule in the land of Israel. Yet there was more at stake here: if Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah, then surely He would oppose the Roman overlords. So the question was calculated to expose Him either as a threat to the regime, or a fraud.

"Jesus' answer deftly moves the argument to a higher plane, gently cautioning against both the politicization of religion and the deification of temporal power, along with the relentless pursuit of wealth. His audience needed to be reminded that the Messiah was not Caesar, and Caesar was not God. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was of an altogether higher order. As He told Pontius Pilate, 'My kingship is not of this world.'

"The Christmas stories in the New Testament are intended to convey a similar message. Jesus was born during a "census of the whole world" taken by Caesar Augustus, the Emperor renowned for bringing the Pax Romana to all the lands under Roman rule. Yet this infant, born in an obscure and far-flung corner of the Empire, was to offer the world a far greater peace, truly universal in scope and transcending all limitations of space and time.

"Jesus is presented to us as King David's heir, but the liberation He brought to His people was not about holding hostile armies at bay; it was about conquering sin and death forever.

"The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience. At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?

"Christmas can be the time in which we learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus not only as the Child in the manger, but as the one in Whom we recognize God made Man.

"It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs - be it in the Houses of Parliament or the Stock Exchange. Christians shouldn't shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology.

"Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being created in God's image and destined for eternal life. Christians work for more equitable sharing of the earth's resources out of a belief that, as stewards of God's creation, we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.

"Because these goals are shared by so many, much fruitful cooperation is possible between Christians and others. Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God. Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the Emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the last century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God. When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated world-view. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.

"In Italy, many crib scenes feature the ruins of ancient Roman buildings in the background. This shows that the birth of the child Jesus marks the end of the old order, the pagan world, in which Caesar's claims went virtually unchallenged. Now there is a new king, who relies not on the force of arms, but on the power of love. He brings hope to all those who, like himself, live on the margins of society. He brings hope to all who are vulnerable to the changing fortunes of a precarious world. From the manger, Christ calls us to live as citizens of his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that all people of good will can help to build here on earth".

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Europe

Pope Francis Gives Direction to Charismatic Renewal and New Movements Watch

Image of Pope Francis at the last Pentecost Sunday Mass. Included in the massive crowd were members of the diverse ecclesial movements from around the world.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 22, 2014, Pope Francis addressed a Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It brought together new movements and communities in the Catholic Church - from across the globe. These movements are not only flourishing, but multiplying ... continue reading


If backed into a corner will Putin come out swinging? On the eve of Russia's great depression Europe braces for violent repercussions Watch

Image of Some analysts fear that Russia could default on its foreign debt, even worse, a depression may force Vladimir Putin to take an aggressive and expansionist stance in Europe.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The sharply declining price of a barrel of oil and the harsh sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe have created a perfect storm for Russia's weak economy. The ruble has fallen fast, and the financial crisis that faces Russia is quickly spiraling out of ... continue reading


Singing nun Sister Cristian Scucccia fulfills lifelong dream to meet Pope Francis Watch

Image of Sister Cristina is slated to perform at the Vatican's Christmas concert later this week, along with American punk singer Patti Smith.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Sister Cristina Scuccia, whose cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" has gathered more than four million views on YouTube, has fulfilled her longtime dream of meeting Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meeting Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, she ... continue reading


Sexual predator nabbed trying to lure teenage girls off social media sites Watch

Image of Prosecutor Mary McCarthy said Wood sent explicit pictures to girls and, in some cases, arranged to meet them. He had full sexual intercourse with five of the girls. Some of the offenses occurred while he was on bail.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yeovil man, in Great Britain has been arrested on numerous sex charges. Twenty-year-old Jacob Wood is accused of grooming "vulnerable" teenage girls for sex through social media sites. Wood has been spared a prison sentence after a judge said it would not ... continue reading


'We may not live through these days': Is Mikhail Gorbachev warning that the crisis in Ukraine could turn into World War III? Watch

Image of Former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who has long been hailed as one of the leading architects in ending the Cold War is now warning that the world may be facing the potential of war if Russian and American leaders are unwilling to back down.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is no secret that relations between the United States-and its allies in Europe-and Russia have chilled to levels unseen since the end of the Cold War over the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. What is surprising is just who is issuing a warning about the potential ... continue reading


Plight of boat people worldwide addressed by United Nations Watch

Image of

By Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Governments must focus on saving lives rather than keeping foreigners out at a time when more people than ever are embarking on risky sea crossings in search of asylum or a better life, the United Nations said on Wednesday. GENEVA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


Indian, Pakistani accept Nobel Peace Prizes Watch

Image of Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, from India accepted their Nobel Peace Prizes in Norway.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

India and Pakistan are longtime international rivals. This didn't prevent a Pakistani teenage advocate for women's education and an Indian child rights campaigner from receiving Nobel Peace Prizes. Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, ... continue reading


VATICAN AT RISK OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION as Islamic State smuggles dirty bomb into Europe Watch

Image of Vatican City may be a primary target for the Islamic State's dirty bomb.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A weapons maker for the Islamic State has posted a chilling warning to the world, claiming that a radioactive device, known as a "dirty bomb" has been successfully smuggled into Europe. This suggests that a radiological bombing could be imminent. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'ISIS killers are monsters and cowards,' widow of slain British aid worker says Watch

Image of

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

The widow of a 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines, who was murdered by Islamic State extremists has denounced his killers "cowards." Dragana Haines, whose husband David was killed by the militants in a graphic video posted online last September, says she still ... continue reading


Has the Islamic State moved on to Russia? 16 dead in Islamist attack! Watch

Image of 16 people have died, and 21 more were injured during an attack in the capital of Chechnya by Islamic militants.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At least 16 people are dead in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, following an early morning attack on a police checkpoint, media building and school by rebel gunmen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The attack occurred at 1:00 a.m. (local time) on December 4, and ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
1 Once the king had settled into his palace and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
25 And now to him who can make you strong in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 21st, 2014 Image

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter