|Joan of Arc by John Everett Millais.|
St. Joan of Arc was martyred in Rouen France 1431, as was Fr. Jaques Hamel in 2016
If I look at myself, I realize that I do not fit into neat categories. I am Catholic. I unequivocally support the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. I tend to vote Republican and have what would be considered conservative principles. Yet, I oppose the death penalty. I drive a Prius. I am open to some regulation of gun sales for the sake of safety. I am not a caricature of any political ideology. And you know what--neither is anyone else.
Politicians may set themselves as icons of an ideology. Maybe they truly believe their own dogma. Maybe they are just seeking power. However, the ordinary unknown individuals who follow these standard bearers are far more complex than the sound bites and political rhetoric.
My latest article at Catholic Stand offers some thoughts about how easily we make instant generalizations about people we don't know. Making these broad brush assumptions is lazy. We can make judgments about actions. What is right and what is wrong is not determined by a majority vote but by an objective truth that transcends mere human whims and desires. But we cannot know a person's heart from afar. We have to listen to them. We have to get to know them. And we have to allow them to know us.
Two young men invaded the sacred space of a Catholic Church in Rouen, France and murdered an elderly priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, during Mass. They claimed to be doing it in allegiance to ISIS and to Islam. It would be easy to say that all Muslims are evil and some have done so. But that would be wrong. Those who justify violence and murder are evil. The local Muslims have refused to bury the perpetrator of this atrocity because they do not want to "taint Islam" with such horror. Muslims in France as well as other parts of Europe attended memorial Masses to show solidarity with Catholics and to display their opposition to the terrorism of ISIS.
Do I think Muslims are in error in their theology? Yes, I do. Do I hope that they someday come to believe in Christ? Of course. But I am not going to lead them to Christ spewing hatred. All people, regardless of their ideology, are made in the likeness and image of God. For that reason alone they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and mercy. We are commanded, not asked, by God to love them.
The current political season looks to be the ugliest in my lifetime. It is tempting to withdraw and deal with the aftermath after the elections in November. However, nothing short of the moral standing of our country and culture hangs in the balance. It is an uphill battle to bring the light of truth out of the morass of evil that appears to be overwhelming our society. We have no choice but to accept the challenge and remain engaged.
We cannot abide evil and errors in order to get along. Tolerance of evil is not love. We must stand firm in faith. To admonish sinners and to instruct the ignorant are acts of mercy and we would be remiss in our Christian duty if we failed to do so. But it must always be done in charity. It must always be done with respect for the human dignity of those who disagree. Before engaging in such correction, stop and pray. Ask for patience, wisdom, generosity, and humility. The goal is to gain disciples for Christ, not to win political points. Let all know we are Christians by our authentic love.