BY JOHN-HENRY WESTON
MEXICO CITY, November 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Even “some of our clergy” have lost confidence in the truth about marriage, life and religious liberty, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix warned at a major meeting of Catholic leaders held in Mexico City November 16-19. This loss of confidence comes as a result of the relentless attack from secular culture, he said, adding that if Christians don’t maintain their confidence in these “tough truths” it will hurt the spread of the Gospel.
Bishop Olmsted was speaking during one of the working sessions at the gathering of 70 bishops and cardinals along with Catholic leaders form North, Central and South America, which had the goal of hammering out a plan for a new evangelization of the Americas.
During one of the working group sessions, Bishop Olmsted offered six tasks that the Church in America is required by Christ to undertake “at this time in history.” One of those tasks was to trust the “tough truths.”
To trust the truth is to trust Christ and to trust that His Gospel of Life is truly Good News for the world. … Truth and faith are bound together. Faith opens the door to truths that reason alone could never come to know. …
Because vociferous sectors of our skeptical culture harshly criticize truths of faith—especially those about marriage, human life and religious liberty—a number of Catholics, even some of our clergy, have lost confidence in some of the tough truths that come to us from Christ through the Church.
Such loss of confidence impedes our ability to stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable in society and to bear convincing witness to the Gospel. In a skeptical age, our American continent needs from us a humble yet confident witness to the truth that finds it fullness in our Savior.
Bishop Olmsted billed one of the other five tasks that he says faces Christians as so essential that “until we succeed in doing this, we shall never succeed in building a culture of life and a society solidly built on the institution of marriage.”
And what is that task? Purity of heart.
“Popular culture has been badly distorted by a steady diet of false images of femininity and masculinity, reaching its most grotesque form in pornography, but seen also in the promotion of so-called ‘homosexual marriage,’” he said.
”Who else but the Church is in a position to build a culture of chastity, a culture of sexual integrity? … What is needed even more than vigilance is Christian confidence that it is possible to live a chaste life, that fidelity to married vows is within reach, that it is possible to escape from a life of promiscuity and addictive pornography with the help of God’s grace.”
The conference, titled “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent,” was led by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Speakers included Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, Boston’s Sean O’Malley, Mexico City’s Norberto Rivera Carrera and the Vatican’s Marc Ouellet.
On the one hand, said the Bishop of Phoenix, Christians must “avoid the temptation to blame modern culture for all the problems among the members of the Church, when in fact our own sins are, at times, the primary reason for them.” On the other hand, he added, we must “avoid the temptation to accommodate to the popular culture without taking into account what is incompatible with our faith, but instead requires firm opposition.”
The bishop urged the faithful to “live God’s plan for marriage.” He said, “The witness of happily married couples and their children is how the truth about God’s plan for marriage is most eloquently handed on to others.”
Bishop Olmsted also stressed the essential responsibility of the laity to engage in the public square.
“The life and dignity of the unborn and other vulnerable persons are gravely threatened today,” said Bishop Olmsted. “Today more than ever, Christians needed to be a counter-force to the flattened concepts of the human person – purely consumerist, secularist and utilitarian views of human life.”
The Phoenix bishop concluded his remarks on the task of respecting and defending the dignity of all persons with rarely heard praise for pro-life and pro-family groups.
“While much work remains to be done, we should also be encouraged by the efforts of so many individuals and organizations to protect innocent human life,” he said. “In particular, we are blessed to have an increasing number of initiatives that promote closer collaboration between Pro Life and Pro Family leaders and organizations in various countries of the American continent.
“Should we not count it a privilege and blessed opportunity from God to bear witness to the Gospel of Life today, to stand up for the life and dignity of the most vulnerable among us, and to work with others of good will to secure the right to life of all?”