Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Vital Caveat

In his recent homily at his installation as Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin first asked, " What...are the keys to the discipleship, the holiness of which the Popes have spoken?" and offered an overview. He then noted that "disciples of Christ do not remain within the safe confines of the Church solely for the sake of their own salvation. They are also commissioned to enter the world...to be, as Jesus said, 'the salt of the earth and the light of the world', to make the world a better place, a brighter place in which to live," by proclaiming important Christian values, such as:

  • An unconditional commitment to the sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception till the time of natural death. I remain convinced, dear brothers and sisters, that this is the great moral challenge of our time and that future generations will judge us on how we have responded to the threats against life…
  • Our non-negotiable belief in Holy Matrimony as designed by God and blessed by Jesus – a union of one man and one woman joined together in a lifetime commitment of life and love…
  • The desire to promote common decency in entertainment, art and culture, to shield individuals, families and children from the corrupting influence of pornography and obscenity that degrades the human person…
  • Our sincere concern for and commitment to the poor, the weak and the needy, all those in the world and in our own community who are not as blessed, not as fortunate as we are. Here too, we discover the real presence of Christ for He said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me”…
  • The need to promote honesty, integrity and civility in our personal and professional lives, in our daily relationships with one and another…
  • A sincere desire to live in peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, recognizing that we generously forgive others because we too will often need to be forgiven…

  • And he then offered what I would like to call "The Vital Caveat" - for it seems to me that if we do not conform to this caveat, we do not conform to our Lord and Master:

    "But it is equally important that while we strive to speak the truth, we do so with love and respect for others – even those, perhaps especially those- who disagree with us. The passage from The Letter to Romans we heard today said, “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” Gentleness, kindness, love and respect – these too, are essential virtues for followers of Christ!"

    Compare something said by Pope John Paul the Great:
    "We need a new apologetic, geared to the needs of today...this new apologetic will need to breathe a spirit of humanity, that compassionate humility which understands people's anxieties and questions, and is not quick to presume in them ill will or bad faith."