November 30th, 2009 13:46 EST
Is the Catholic Church a Force for Good in the World?Part 3
Parts 1 and 2 covered the 10 allegations made by the debaters opposing the Catholic Church, and corresponding explanations from me.
Is the Catholic Church a Force for Good In the World?
Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world? Part 2
Having covered the allegations made by the Opposition, in the debate, let me list some of the positive contributions of the Holy Mother the Church, the force for good.
1 The Martyrs
No religious body or social cause or political ideology has begotten the number of martyrs that the Catholic Church has. Why is this important? It is because the martyrs bore witness to Jesus and His teachings, by laying down their lives. They edified and inspired thousands to accept and follow Jesus. Their sacrifices developed a community of believers, across the Globe, who had only one goal " to love and serve their fellows. That is a powerful force for good. That force is still inspiring people to stand up for their beliefs and serve others, in trying circumstances. With the blood of martyrs cementing the building blocks, the structure of the Church can withstand the blows dealt by her detractors.
2 The Saints
They stand tall, not dwarfed by the misdeeds of others. Saint Francis of Assisi (the rich man who embraced poverty), Saint Ignatius of Loyola (the soldier who turned spiritual leader), Saint Francis Xavier (the Professor who turned Missionary), Saint Damien (of the leper colony), Saint Jugan (of the homes for the aged), and the more recent Mother Teresa (who gave service a new dimension), are a few among the great saints. Their list is endless, but some names should make the point that these men and women led exemplary lives, to draw others to the vocation of serving Christ, by serving others " in education, healthcare, uplifting society and counselling. What a force for good these saints were! They left a legacy of followers who continue to serve the same cause with dedication. The power of drawing people to God has not weakened, with their passing. They have passed on the baton, in a race that will not end. That is why we have "living saints`, who voicelessly serve their fellows, content in knowing that God sees it all.
Some of these saints were sinners, who turned away from sin. That they sinned in the past does not dim the brightness of their converted saintly lives. In the same way, the sins of some of the Church leaders do not reduce the force for good that the Church is.
It would be a fair assessment to make: but for Catholic Schools and Colleges, the world would have been a less educated place. Consider the number of Catholic Schools and Institutions that dot the world. Consider what would have happened to countless orphaned children, without Catholic Orphanages. Consider their years of service. Consider the great names that have qualified from those Institutions. The effort has been enormous; the results amazing. Chances are, the ones who accuse the Church have received their education at Catholic Institutions, acquiring and developing their skills of communication in those classrooms. Now they shoot verbal darts at the Church. What an irony!
Catholic hospitals are the first-choice among many non-Catholics. Why? It is because they can be trusted. They know that they will receive the best care. C.P.Ramaswamy, the erstwhile Governor of Kerala, India, was vitriolic in denouncing the Church, shutting down Catholic Institutions and unleashing propaganda against Catholics. Not long after, he was stabbed. Bleeding profusely, he directed his men to rush him to the only hospital run by nuns that survived his purge. He could not trust anyone else.
The Hospices, run by Catholics, not only care for the terminally ill, but also help them die in dignity, even when their families forsake them. The force for good in the Church is not loud; it serves silently.
5 Health Care
AIDS, Cancer, Hepatitis, Alzheimer. Whatever the disease the Catholic Church runs health care centres for the afflicted. Besides, for the physically and mentally challenged, adults and children, across the world, Catholic Institutions provide shelter, medication and succour. No religious discrimination sullies their effort. More recently, Mother Teresa and her congregation have made the world take notice.
What cannot be quantified is the peace that the Sacrament of Reconciliation brings to souls who need it. A guilt-ridden conscience is a heavy load to carry around. Repentance and reconciliation lift the weight off the soul and restore peace to the troubled mind. The forgiven soul gets yet another chance to choose a better way of life. The more serious the sin, the more comforting is reconciliation. The force for good in the Sacrament can be explained only by the one who walks away after receiving it.
My list could go on and on. It is time to conclude. (To be concluded next week)