The City of God has a problem, a big problem. Many of those charged with protecting and defending the city have gone over to the enemy. Some are active members of the treasonous conspiracy, but others commit treason by their silence and capitulation. They are the “nice guys” who want to be liked and admired. They don’t want anyone rocking the boat by insisting on unpleasant truths and they fear epithets like “rigid” and “medieval.” And so they say and do nothing when the active conspirators within and the enemy without take their jackhammers and wrecking balls to the foundations of the holy city.
In a recent article at The Catholic Thing, Deacon James Toner discussed The Nice Guy Syndrome and raised some provocative points:
Nice guys are sincere….. Nice guys are tolerant…. Nice guys are “authentic”….That there can be sincere rapists, tolerant drug dealers, or authentic terrorists; that abortionists can be pleasant people; that those planning a political paradise marked by eugenics and euthanasia can simultaneously be loving grandparents – all these things testify to what Hannah Arendt famously called the “banality of evil.”….
Nice guys…have done, and can do, great evil because of apathy, because of unwillingness to seek the truth and then to do it. Truth obliges. Knowing the truth requires us to act in that truth – to “do” the truth. (James 1:22, CCC 898) If being a “nice guy” means that we must be wishy-washy or apathetic about knowing and serving truth, then we must be as disagreeable, as dyspeptic, as possible….
Smiling nice guys are legion: we find them in parliaments and in pulpits, in chancelleries and in colleges, in the public square and in religious synods….
… if I do not trouble myself about the truth – about its certainty in Christ – then I need not concern myself about doing the truth, about testifying to that truth by what I say and do, and thus risk alienating those very people who see me as a “nice guy.”[i]
This article will focus, not on the “nice guys” of the world who lack the advantage of the fullness of the faith; rather it will look at those within the City of God with the responsibility to teach: the men in Roman collars with multiple letters after their names, the Catholic educators and writers willing to purge the truth from their institutions and works, and the laity in the pew who pick and choose their beliefs in accordance with their pet sins. Not all these “nice guys” are merely silent about the truth. Some actively seek the approval of the world by vigorously defending what’s popular and politically correct. They may even uphold certain teachings of the faith when it is easy and costs nothing. Their silence, however, is deafening when it comes to hard truths that make them targets of criticism and ridicule. These are the “nice guys” committing treason against the City and her ruler, Jesus Christ.
The word treason derives from the Latin “traditionem” meaning to hand over, deliver, or surrender and from the Old French verb “trair” meaning to betray. Under old English law, high treason involved a subject’s betraying his sovereign (in our case Christ Himself) or the state (the City of God). Petit treason involved a subject’s offense against a fellow subject. Today, “nice guys” commit both of these treasons. They violate the two great commandments to love God and neighbor. They undermine the faith and weaken the ability of the City of God to carry out its proper role of bringing the entire world to the service of Christ the King. They also undermine the faith of Catholics.
Let us examine several common spheres of silence that reflect the failure of “nice guys” to defend the faith and rob the Church of her evangelical mission to proclaim the truth and spread it to the ends of the earth: silence in the pulpit about moral evils common among the flock, silence from the hierarchy about syncretism, the belief that all religions are essentially the same and all can lead to salvation, and failure of the laity to defend the faith in the marketplace.
First of all, consider the silence of the clergy to teach the faith clearly and boldly. This problem plagued the Church from its very beginning and often arises from human respect. Peter himself fell victim when he stopped eating with the Gentile converts in order to please the Jewish converts.[ii] St. Paul called him to account and, when the first council met in Jerusalem, the Church spoke clearly about the limited obligations of the Gentiles to follow Mosaic Law. But it took a very UN-silent St. Paul to chastise the pope himself. How many clergy fall into the same trap as the English bishops who chose silence to please a king and avoid martyrdom? And the clergy today do it with much less cause, since they will hardly be executed for making a handful of parishioners angry. The bishop may lose some big contributors, of course, which seems to be an important consideration with nice guys in the chancery.
There are several particularly pernicious areas of silence for which our teaching shepherds are culpable. Humanae Vitae, the encyclical condemning contraception, remains unproclaimed after fifty years. The silence in most dioceses and parishes is deafening. Most clerics never challenge the sins of the flesh common to their flocks: abortion, contraception, pornography, immodesty, etc. Have you ever heard a sermon on the seven deadly sins or the four last things? Hell and damnation are very real, but those words are seldom heard. Instead, the Sunday homily, the major opportunity each week for the clergy to teach doctrine and morality to their parishioners, often has little more substance than a bowl of jello. How many clergy will have to answer to Christ, because they abandoned their flocks to spiritual ignorance?
We should be especially aware of the damage of silence in this anniversary year of Fatima since Our Lady told the three shepherd children that sins of the flesh send most sinners to hell. And certainly the sin of our day is lust. Contraception, pornography, and immodesty give free reign to fornication, adultery, and the perversion of the marriage bed. Contraception often leads to abortion since many couples cite contraceptive failure as the reason they kill their children. According to a 2011 U.K. study by the largest abortion provider in the country, two thirds of women choosing abortion were using contraception when they conceived.[iii] When I was sidewalk counseling, several abortion-minded women told me it wasn’t their fault since they conceived while using birth control. Hence, in their minds, abortion was justified.
And yet the silence about the immorality of these evils continues….
Read the rest, plus Footnotes, THERE.