|St. John the Baptist, conscience-|
Catholics are called to treat all persons with charity and justice. That includes those who hate what we believe. It demands a conversion of heart. It demands patience, courage and humility. We need to shed any self-righteousness. But charity and justice can’t be separated from truth. For Christians, Scripture is the Word of God, the revelation of God’s truth – and there’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct. Trying to do so demeans what Christians have always claimed to believe. It reduces us to useful tools of those who would smother the faith that so many other Christians have suffered, and are now suffering, to fully witness.
This is why groups that fight for religious liberty in our courts, legislatures, and in the public square – distinguished groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Becket (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) – are heroes, not “haters.”The Archbishop's statement can be applied equally to other issues of faith and morality as well as religious liberty. Those who fight for the faith in the Church Militant are field soldiers. Yes, we must go to spiritual bootcamp where we constantly examine our own consciences to remove those things that will hinder us in battle. We need to arm ourselves with prayer and fasting and by putting on the armor of Christ. Once we've done that we can be sent into the thick of the battle to fight Satan and those he has enslaved by his lies.
There we need to wield the sword of salvation by speaking the truth in love. Sometimes that truth hurts. Having a conscience pricked isn't pleasant. And our own consciences need to be sensitive for those pricks for our own benefit. Nonetheless, shrinking from the fight is cowardly.
And think of the gratitude of the man or woman whose pricked conscience leads to humble repentance before God. The conscience-pricker who acts out of love is, indeed, a person of mercy. As the monks always say, "Pray and work." The work in the Church Militant is to battle for the faith and the kingship of Jesus Christ.