Church living in midst of confrontation Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

Last week at the meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Baltimore, our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who serves as the personal representative of Pope Francis in the United States, addressed us bishops on behalf of Pope Francis.

In the first place, I thought it was interesting that a great deal of his address to us was focused on quotations from Pope Paul VI and Blessed John Paul the Great.

This is a sure sign that Pope Francis wishes to be seen in continuity with his venerable predecessors, a fact which he made clear recently as he affirmed Archbishop Agostino Marchetto’s account of the hermeneutic of continuity as a proper interpretive key for the Second Vatican Council.

But, I want to focus on one particular thought that Archbishop Viganò raised.

Time of ‘great confrontation’

He called our memories to the talk that Pope John Paul the Great, while he was still Cardinal Wojyla, gave in Philadelphia in 1976. His thoughts were given in the context of the International Eucharistic Congress which was held that year in Philadelphia, in conjunction with the celebration of the American bicentennial.

Pope John Paul’s conviction was that we (both in the U.S. Church and worldwide) were entering into a time of great confrontation, even though the wider Church community was not particularly aware of it.

He described the confrontation as one between the Church and the anti-Church, the Gospel and the anti-Gospel, between Christ and the anti-Christ.

Just as we were entering that great confrontation, according to the mind of John Paul in 1976, we can find ourselves living in the midst of that confrontation, full-blown, today.

It is the very tribulation described in last Sunday’s Gospel concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the tireless persecution of God’s people.

Who would have ever thought that in 2013 our religious freedom would be so profoundly under assault, even here in the United States?

In order to reject all that is anti-Church, anti-Gospel, and anti-Christ, we must be prepared to enter into battle day-in and day-out against the forces of evil and against Satan himself.

Satan’s ‘plan of attack’

In our present time Satan, who is always a liar and the father of lies, has carefully chosen two areas as key to his plan of attack.

The first is a more polite term for lying, that is, “spin.”

We must realize that when we read the paper or listen to the news, we are not really getting facts, but spin, which has already been spun usually by civil authorities before it even arrives at the press.

So when we actually listen to the news or read the papers or magazines for that matter, we are getting spin which has already been spun, which we might call “spin squared.”

Thus, the distance between what we see or hear in the mass media or read in newspapers or magazines and the truth is indeed substantial.

So we must educate our own radar for detecting spin and develop the discipline which enables us to cut through the spin and draw closer and closer to the truth.

This is a necessary skill for fighting in these days against the anti-Church, the anti-Gospel, and the anti-Christ — being on guard against lies, against spin.

Pressure to be ‘politically correct’

Secondly, we must beware of Satan’s other key tactic in deceiving us, which is the pressure to be “politically correct.”

There is a real and good duty that we have as Christians to be kind and to love one another, but an essential part of authentic love is being willing to offer the truth, even when that truth can be seen as politically incorrect.

In terms of political incorrectness, we have as one of our key examples St. John the Baptist, who sacrificed his own life to uphold the dignity of the marriage bond as he stood before King Herod and Herodius.

In his proclamation of the truth, St. John could not have been more politically incorrect.

In fact, I often think of St. John the Baptist as the patron saint of the politically incorrect.

Invoking the spirit of wisdom and courage, which we received at Confirmation, we must stand up and be counted frequently. And this usually involves going against, in our own words and behavior, what is politically correct.

Pope Francis’s delegate for the New Evangelization recently commented that in the very first days of the Church there were anywhere from at least 20, to at most 55, members of that early Christian community.

However, everyone recognized them as Christians, without any doubt.

Today, he said, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and, by and large, we are not so recognized.

This is precisely because too many give in to the temptation to be politically correct, covering over the truth in order to be deemed acceptable, and even popular.

Working our way through spin toward the truth and overcoming our fears of being politically incorrect are our two main tactics in response to the tactics of Satan, a liar and the father of lies.

Accepting the Lord’s grace

As we approach the close of this Year of Faith and renew our determination to engage in the New Evangelization, let us not neglect our responsibilities, in terms of accepting grace from the Lord to follow through against the prince of this world, because the victory that overcomes this world is this faith of ours.

Thank you for reading this, God bless you.

Praised be Jesus Christ!