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Have We Turned Into Evangelistic Jellyfish?

I hate “political correctness.” At least that’s what I tell myself and others. And when I do tell this to others, I am met with virtually universal agreement. Everyone hates “political correctness.”

Regardless of how we all feel about it, virtually all of us still give in to it.

How many times have you seen an anti-Catholic post from a friend or relative on Facebook or somewhere else online and not responded because the amount of heat it will bring you doesn’t seem worth the effort? Have you ever been at a social gathering or family event and had someone say something about the Catholic Faith that you find disagreeable and kept your mouth shut to avoid confrontation? Then you too have fallen prey to political correctness.

In these situations I am often reminded of a quote from Vatican II:

The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded. — Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), 11

While this quote is referring to how Catholics should relate to Christian denominations specifically, I think it is also good advice when you find yourself engaged in interfaith (or no faith at all) dialogue. We shouldn’t let our presentation of the truth become an obstacle, but we should not water down what we believe to make peace, either. If we let our emotions take over, we run the risk of botching an opportunity to evangelize. But keeping your mouth shut is also an obstacle to evangelism.

I do understand what it is like to become exhausted with spreading the gospel message. As the moderator of Catholic Answers’ social media platforms, I have to check those messages every day. And every day I dread it because I know what awaits me: a mountain of anti-Catholicism that would make a stoic blush with anger. I even feel a slight hesitation at times when posting about certain topics on our Facebook page because I know what will happen. These are the effects of having grown up in the age of political correctness.

If it hasn’t done so already, “political correctness” is on the verge of turning us all into spineless jellyfish. Can we be as tough as the apostles who first followed Christ? I would like to think I can, but those guys had rocks thrown at them, and much worse, for what they believed. If we can’t even open our mouths for fear that others will not like us anymore, or because we just don’t want to deal with the repercussions of standing up for what we believe, then how will we fare any better when it’s our lives on the line?

Pope Francis’ homily on April 25 focused on the passage from Mark just before the Ascension, when Jesus sends the apostles to preach the gospel “to the whole of creation” (Mark 16:15). The Holy Father offered us some words of encouragement in this regard:

[Go] all over the world. The horizon … great horizon… And as you can see, this is the mission of the Church. The Church continues to preach this to everyone, all over the world. But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus. ‘So they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted with them.’ The Lord works with all those who preach the gospel. This is the magnanimity that Christians should have. A pusillanimous Christian is incomprehensible: This magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards!

If you are interested in reading some amazing stories of conversion from history, I highly recommend historian Dianne Moczar’s latest book, Converts and Kingdoms: How the Church Converted the Pagan West—and How We Can Do It Again.

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