Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Turning the Other Cheek

First two quotes.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 6:28-30 (NIV)

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek. It's our duty to protect ourselves." Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's Supreme Court.

My first reaction to this was disbelief and disappointment. I just don't like the sound of a clergyman contradicting scripture.

Christian History is full of martyrs who willingly gave up their lives rather than protecting themselves by force. We would not have a Church if Christ had defended himself instead of willingly accepting a brutal execution as a punishment for our sin. Here in Ontario we have a shrine to Canadian Martyrs like St. Jean de Brebeuf, a missionary to the Huron Indians who refused to flee when they were attacked by the Iroquois.

However, in reality, I don't believe that Monsignor De Paolis is contradicting scripture. Rather he is contradicting a mistaken interpretation of it that would suggest the Catholic Church should allow its members and other Christians to be persecuted, tortured, and murdered for their faith. Daniel Pipes outlines the problem in an excellent article here.

In the nineteen eighties, the Church was largely successful in protecting Christians' freedom to worship in Russia, Poland and the other communist countries of Eastern Europe. Today there are many countries where religious freedom is in serious jeopardy, many of them are majority Muslim countries. The church is right to recognize the threats to believers and to use all of its political influence to protect the rights of people in every country of the world to worship freely.

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