Therefore I see no reason to accommodate the Faith to liberalism—to mute the Church’s claims to universal authority, to downplay the most inconvenient aspects of Her social teaching, to form compromising alliances for the sake of power in the present order. Even if this could all be accomplished shrewdly through emphases and implications without sacrificing an iota of the substance of the Faith, it would still be doubtlessly an accommodation that contains the seed of attachment. It teaches those being formed in the Faith, especially young people, that part of being Catholic is not getting too crosswise with the prevailing order; but whatever goods may emerge from that disposition in liberty and power, they are not worth the cost in faithfulness. The forbearance of a hostile order is of little value if the price is the authenticity of our witness.I don’t blame my parents for the loss of faithfulness that marked my teenage years. I don’t just say this out of filial piety; American Catholicism, both institutionally and among the laity, has downplayed or outright denied dissonance between the Church and the world for at least the past few generations. To the extent this was ever tenable, it certainly is not any longer. Once we become accustomed to a degree of worldly attachment—often with at least implied official sanction—we naturally follow the world when its wisdom departs from the Church’s. My story is, therefore, not just a personal one, but the story of the Church across the West, and especially in America.
The way out is to embrace the radicalism of Christ wherever it leads. Nothing has convinced me of this more than the weight of the responsibility of fatherhood.
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