I'm at a Catholic conference for catechetical leaders this week in St. Louis. I was informed by one of the speakers that an evangelical pastor was denied entrance into Canada at the border simply because of his public opposition to same-sex marriage. This is yet another indication of what lingers just over the horizon. Princeton professor, Robert George, said at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast just a few days ago:
“The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. 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. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear…
[A] tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices.”
Yet, as some Catholics mentioned at this conference that I'm at, the urgency is not yet manifested at the local parish level. But soon, I am afraid, men and women in leadership positions will be forced to provide some guidance to "unashamed" Catholics who are greeted with hostility and intolerance when their views about marriage are made known to others. After all, as Professor Robert George said, many of them will have to pay a price. And that price needs to be understood within the context of the Cross. To be accused of bigotry, to be denied services, or even to lose a job or friends will have to be seen as a participation of Christ's Passion.
It is only by paying this debt- a debt caused by years of timidity and silence within the Church -that the sanctity of marriage can be restored. And the more we pay the debt by boldly affirming that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, the more the virtue of courage will be reproduced and multiplied among Christians.