While the United States faces serious attacks on religious freedom Catholics must develop a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ and fight the cultural war with truth, love and prayer, said renowned Catholic author Peter Kreeft.
“Since you are fighting Christ’s war use Christ’s weapons,” Kreeft told about 250 participants at the Gospels of Life Conference Oct. 25 at Risen Christ Parish in southeast Denver. “What are the weapons? Not power, not pragmatism, not political pandering. Christ could have used all of those weapons and won the world. He would have marched on Rome and become the new Cesar. Instead, he let himself be crucified by Caesar. It sounds crazy but he won something better than the world, he won heaven and he asks us to join his kingdom not Caesar’s.”
“Mission Possible: Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis” was the theme of the day-long conference hosted by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, in conjunction with the Catholic Medical Association.
The day began with a White Mass celebrated by Bishop Paul Etienne of the Cheyenne Diocese to honor doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals.
Kreeft, a Catholic convert and professor of philosophy at Boston College since 1965, has published more than 75 books. He said Catholics will face “spiritual suicide” if they worship politics and ignore their own relationship with Christ.
“Jesus Christ is not running for president,” he said. “Don’t politicize the faith … political involvement is a good thing, social activism, social justice and social peace are all very good things, but they are not God; only God is God.”
Earlier in the day, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers outlined major threats to religious freedom in the U.S., including the Affordable Health Care Act requiring birth control and abortion coverage, Christian-owned marriage venues being required to marry same-sex couples, and the city of Houston issuing subpoenas for local pastors’ sermons because they oppose a new anti-discrimination law.
“There is a significant percentage of our population, including our young people, who do not value religious freedom to the point that they have absolutely no problem telling the Catholic Church of course you have to marry same-sex couples,” Suthers said. “And they don’t even think about what the ramifications are for a free exercise of religion because, frankly, religion is not a part of their lives. So, it is a very frightening atmosphere.”
Kreeft agreed Catholics should not be silent on abortion, divorce and same-sex marriages without speaking up.
“We are at war. Stop the happy talk and fight,” he said. “Fight with words, too of course, but fight with joy and gladness because this war against the principalities of the power of wickedness in high places is the one absolutely just war in the universe. Hold your head high, it is a glorious war.”
Mary Sullivan, a longtime Denver Catholic, attended the conference to learn more about the issues, which she said can be overcome with the power of prayer and love.
“Given all the challenges of our culture I saw this as an opportunity to be uplifted by people who can give us hope and love in the midst of these challenges,” she said.