National Catholic Register


The Last Word


BY The Editors

May 8-21, 2011 Issue | Posted 4/29/11 at 4:33 PM


On Easter Sunday at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, advocates for same-sex “marriage” appeared in force to protest Church teaching. They want the hierarchy to end its resistance to what they characterize as a more inclusive, compassionate stance.

The protests recalled past confrontations between activists and Church leaders at the cathedral. In 1989, activists angry about a Vatican document that characterized a homosexual orientation as intrinsically disordered desecrated the Eucharist. At that time, “marriage equality” wasn’t on the table yet, and protesters sought the Church’s moral tolerance of homosexual activity.

Pilloried as bigots and squeezed by anti-“discrimination” laws that have already forced the closure of some Catholic adoption agencies, Church leaders might be excused for dreaming of an honorable retreat on this issue. But retreat from the defense of marriage, or of any other central teaching of faith and morals, can never be honorable, as it would repudiate what we hold to be true. Something profoundly untrue would have had the last word.

Though the Church’s teachings are increasingly countercultural, they cannot be altered without endangering the salvation of many souls. The whole point of Easter is that we have been set free from that power of sin and death that kept us enslaved to a No. We have been redeemed, and we can now say Yes to God. And yet our salvation still hinges on the good we do and our decisions to cooperate with grace.

The other bookend to the Easter season, the solemnity of Pentecost, commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It is the Holy Spirit’s anointing (see 1 John 2:27) by which the Church is always guided “to all truth” (John 16:13).

So asking the Church to redefine marriage in the name of a redefined “compassion” is simply nonsensical. It’s not a question of human choice: The constant and infallible teaching in faith and morals which makes backtracking unthinkable comes from the Holy Spirit, not from us.

Neither we nor our leaders can accept fashions that relieve us of our responsibility to ourselves — and to those who desperately need the radical witness of our faith. Though we know well that the Church must weather more jeers and catcalls for not kowtowing to public opinion, we know that she will continue to stand firm.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan gave a masterful Easter homily to the churchgoers in the packed cathedral. In debates and courtroom arguments, he said, so much hinges on who gets the last word. And who gets the last word in this world? Neither the demons nor the power of hell: “Easter has the last word; God has the last word; goodness, light and life have the last word!”

We must continue to be heartened with the knowledge that we are fighting the good fight — God’s fight — and that incremental defeats and victories cannot be compared to the greatness of God’s victory, a victory that will one day reign in a completeness we can only vaguely imagine.

We may suffer now for the cause of truth, but Jesus Christ’s resurrection has had the last word in our lives, and God will have the last word in the struggle of our times too.