Robert George: The persecution has come, will you now abandon the Gospel?
WASHINGTON, DC, May 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Celebrated Princeton Professor Robert P. George has publicly acknowledged the reality of persecution of pro-life and pro-family Christians.
His remarks were delivered at the prestigious National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which has in past years addressed by President George W. Bush, and Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke.
“The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over, the days of comfortable Catholicism are past,” began Prof. George. “It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid,” he said.
Dr. George said it is specifically those who stand for sexual morality and the sanctity of life who are targeted, rather than those who merely profess Christianity.
“Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a ‘Catholic,’ and even be seen going to Mass,” George said. “That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call ‘political correctness’ do not assume that identifying as ‘Catholic’ or going to Mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.”
Dr. George, who was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, said that it is still possible to be “safe” or a “comfortable Catholic” today “if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them.”
The religious freedom leader warned of the severe consequences awaiting those who will not yield to the pressure. “To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman,” he said.
It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members.
Hailed even in the New York Times as America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker,” George’s startling wake-up call to Christian America is sending shock waves through the ranks of the nation’s social conservatives.
“Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel—ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife,” he warned. “These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted, even hateful.”
“Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel,” he asked.
Calvary is here for the Christians in America, he suggested. “Easter is coming. And we, who cherish His Cross, and are willing to bear his suffering and shame, will share in his glorious resurrection.”
The Princeton professor concluded: “Yes, for us Catholics and all who seek to be faithful, it’s Good Friday. We are no longer acceptable. We can no longer be comfortable. It is for us a time of trial, a time of testing by adversity. But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming. Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did—that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup. We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in him, our hope in his resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of his heavenly Father can conquer fear. By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.”
The Catholic star-studded event was opened with prayer by Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl. The Papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, gave the benediction. Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the only American on Pope Francis’ advisory council of eight cardinals, also gave an address.
Robert George’s full address at the National Prayer Breakfast is available here.