Paprocki: Islamic terrorism, political correctness, selective tolerance —and a baby taking us from sin to grace…
(CUSA) – The gift God gives us by the birth of his Son is the key to understanding mercy, simplicity, humility and the need for conversion.
But God does not force these gifts upon us. Once we accept them, however, it comes with the duty to live in openness to grace and growth in the Holy Spirit.
God will then give us the strength to stand up to the “New Intolerance” sweeping our nation. —Ed.
CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS HOMILY
Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
December 25, 2015
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
The late Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, once said, “Our society permits everything, but forgives nothing.” There is great irony is this statement in that society often criticizes the Church for saying that certain actions are sinful and not morally permitted, yet, unlike society, the Church is willing to forgive everything through God’s grace.
The refusal on the part of some in our society to forgive certain things that they consider to be wrong has been called “the new intolerance.” In an essay entitled, “The New Intolerance,” published in the March 2015 issue of the journal First Things, Mary Eberstadt, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, expressed her hope that people will hear and heed the message of God’s mercy repeated so frequently by Pope Francis.
For there is no mercy, in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs—but that’s what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can’t wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work—but the new intolerance does these things, too.
True mercy in our society would not only tolerate but even respect and protect these exercises of religious liberty. Another current example of the new intolerance can be seen in the “Guidelines for Inclusive Seasonal Holidays” issued by Cornell University, which state that winters scenes with snowflakes, trees and holly are acceptable, but the following are NOT consistent with the University’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness:
- Nativity scene
- Stars on top of trees
- Star of David
Apparently these religious symbols are not to be tolerated or included in the modern secular, tolerant and inclusive university!
Thus, Bishop Mario Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was right when he said, “Intolerance in the name of ‘tolerance’ must be named for what it is and publicly condemned.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, phrased it slightly differently in referring to “selective tolerance,” saying that tolerance, if it is to be authentic and true, cannot be selective.
Unfortunately what we see too often in our country today under the guise of political correctness is selective intolerance. We have recognized in our country in recent years a strong lack of tolerance for Christians, Catholics in particular and the Catholic Church. This is evident when it comes to our faith, our religious freedom and Bible based teaching. We hear of college campuses where authorities seek to ban Christmas on the grounds that recognizing Jesus’ birth would be divisive.
This claim seems particularly out of place in a land where we Americans have never found the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day divisive.
The Catholic Church’s appeal to the Scriptures to explain the definition of marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman is regularly decried by some in our country even at the highest political levels as discrimination, not to say bigotry.
Cardinal Wuerl has also asked why the voices that so regularly decry intolerance and violence have been silent . . .
. . . in the face of the ISIS persecution of whole communities and villages of Christians and other minorities and the televised execution of Christians. He noted that this “holy season should be a time for all of us to review in our hearts how selective is our tolerance? We should also, as citizens of this great nation, question why our nation is so selective when it comes to religious persecution and religious freedom.
Five years ago, in my first Midnight Mass at our Cathedral here in Springfield, I called attention to the attacks on Christians in the Middle East. I said that . . .
. . . we should count our blessings that we enjoy the freedom to [celebrate Christmas] in relative safety. But we should not forget our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world that are not so fortunate and for whom Christmas is not so joyful.
But I also added,
Nor should we be so complacent or naïve to think that only people in the Middle East or other parts of the world need to be concerned about attacks by Islamist extremists against Christians.
Sadly, the deadly attack by Islamist terrorists in San Bernardino, California, just three weeks ago now shows how close to home that concern has now become.