I write a column for the Diocese of Rockford paper, The Observer. Thought it was worth posting this week's effort.
THE COMING CATHOLIC PERSECUTION
by Eric R. Barr, STL
Or perhaps it’s already here. Catholic pulpits throughout this nation have sometimes thundered about loss of religious liberty in this country, but many of the faithful have simply looked back at their bishops and priests with bemused expressions of disbelief.
Raised on stories of martyrs, perhaps they do not consider any persecution real unless it comes with lions and tigers and bears in the Roman Coliseum. But that’s not how this persecution is beginning. It is starting with a whisper, a tentative probing to see if it can get away with smacking Christianity. And those who persecute have found they can.
The most recent damning evidence occurred with the coming presidential inauguration. An evangelical pastor, Rev. Louie Giglio , was forced to pull out of giving the benediction at the famed event because twenty years ago he gave a sermon against same sex marriage. The inauguration committee responded, "As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans."
Think about it. That statement excludes any orthodox Catholic, in fact, any orthodox Christian, and Catholics are the most organized and vocal proponents of traditional marriage. For the first time, the beliefs of our religion exclude us from being a part of a president’s inauguration.
Add to that the continued govermental hostility toward our beliefs as regards Obamacare, the mockery of our faith in the media, and the hostility shown by the secular world to pro-life beliefs in our culture. Don’t believe this? In just a few weeks, we will have the annual March to Life and this year’s is expected to be huge–hundreds of thousands of people. Check the media coverage–or not. For years the secular media totally ignores this huge protest. Why? Because they hate what we believe.
These issues may seem small to some. But they represent the evolving opinion of the state–and it is not friendly to us. It will be a while before Catholics are dragged out of their homes and killed. But death by a thousand cuts is as sure of a death as perishing in the arena. This culture prefers to kill us slowly. The question is, "Are we even going to rise up and respond?"
Some believe columns like this resemble Chicken Little crying falsely that the sky is falling. To those who feel that way, start listening to what the Pope is saying–he too expects persecution. Start listening to what are bishops are saying–they have definitely sounded the alarm. And start listening to what your priests are saying–have a talk with them about all of this.
No need to panic; rather, start standing up courageously for what Catholics believe. Speak about it in the workplace, among neighbors and friends. Find a way to use those Confirmation gifts of the Spirit that gave us all the courage to be Catholic in the secular sphere. Maybe it’s easier to just shorten all of this with this statement: "Be a saint!" We may not stop what is coming, but at least we will stand up for what is right–and that may be all that is needed to triumph.