To Bear Witness To the Truth:An Unequivocal Moral Obligation for All Christians
by Rev. John Corapi, SOLT, STD
Every Catholic and, indeed, every Christian faithful to the Gospel, has the moral obligation to bear witness to the truth, “in season and out of season, convenient or inconvenient,” accepted or rejected. This mandate is nothing new, of course. It’s as old as the Old Testament, and as new as the New Testament. Nonetheless, I’m afraid that it has become more necessary than ever to remind ourselves of it.
The Magisterium formally teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2471, quoting Sacred Scripture, “Before [Pontius] Pilate, Christ proclaimed the He has ‘come into the world to bear witness to the truth’ (Jn 18:37). The Christian is not to be ‘ashamed then of testifying to our Lord’ (2 Tm 1:8). In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep ‘a clear conscience toward God and toward men’” (Acts 24:16).
Let me give you one definition of equivocation: “A statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth; intentionally vague or ambiguous.” How about this for an example: “A woman has the right to choose.” Choose what? A less vague, ambiguous, and equivocal statement would be, “A woman (or man) has the right to choose to perpetrate homicide. Or, “A nation has the right to facilitate, enable, or legislate genocide.” Oh, excuse me, that would be an unpleasant truth, or maybe an “inconvenient truth,” as the inventor of the internet, Al Gore, might say.
The Catholic Church unambiguously and formally teaches:The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them [IMPELS THEM] to act as witnesses of the Gospel and the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. WITNESS IS AN ACT OF JUSTICE THAT ESTABLISHES THE TRUTH OR MAKES IT KNOWN (see Matthew 18:16).
The recent travesty involving the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to the President of the United States to give the commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree is the antithesis of Catholic and Christian witness to the truth. A lawyer who vigorously, publicly, and consistently support an anti-life and anti-family litany of evils will now receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from what is arguably the most prestigious Catholic University in America.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed, what thousand words will be conveyed by the picture(s) of Mr. Obama receiving his honorary doctorate and sending off the graduating class at Notre Dame University? This will be a dark day indeed for the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Church that permitted it to happen. In the end, the bishops have the right and the duty to decide if the University of Notre Dame can any longer claim “Catholic” credentials.
Meanwhile, the obligation to bear witness to the truth weighs more heavily than ever on each one of us. We have rapidly entered into a new era of persecution of the Church and the truth that she professes and teaches, reminding us again,
"The disciple of Christ must not only keep faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” (Lumen gentius 42; Dignitatis Humanae 14).
Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33).
God Bless You,
Fr. John Corapi