“My message for you today is a somber one,” said Professor Robert George, who lectures on civil liberties at Princeton, to a packed ballroom of Catholics that included failed Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli. “The days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. …It’s not easy anymore. There are costs to discipleship, heavy costs that are burdensome to bear.”
Soon enough he’d get specific. George stressed that there are “powerful forces and currents in our society that press us to be ashamed of the Gospel. For example, if you believe that marriage is the consensual union between a man and a woman, you’re portrayed as bigoted, even hateful. …If you believe these things, some forces say you are a bigot [who is] against homosexuality [and] you ought to be ashamed.”
Again and again, George said Catholics must be brave — pointedly protecting the unborn and marriage between a man and a woman. “One can still be a comfortable Catholic, a tame Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel,” he said. On the other hand, “A Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed of the Gospel is in for a rough go.”
Believing in the Gospel, he warned, makes you “a marked man or woman” and jeopardizes “one’s standing in a polite society.” He said it also may cost you friends and provoke the alienation of family members.
He encouraged listeners to get honest about their faith. “The question each of us must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I prepared to pay the price if I refuse to be ashamed?” And later, taking a direct shot at pro-choice supporters, he asked, “Do you believe a child in the womb deserves respect and protection?” He also went after gay marriage, saying, “Do you believe as I believe that [the things] that shape marriage are grounded in its procreative nature?”
George lamented, “There was a time when we could be comfortable Catholics,” he said. “Those days are gone and they’re not coming back anytime soon. The love affair with Jesus and the Gospel and his Church are over.”
His speech didn’t conclude on an optimistic note. Instead, he had pointed questions: “Will we be like the other disciples and flee in fear? Will we silently acquiesce to the demolition of human lives and the destruction of marriage?”
And he pushed practicing Catholics to not be wimpy. “Courage and cowardice, that’s what makes history,” he said. “We are not pawns moving around a chess board. We have choices.
“History is not God. God is God.”