It is not enough for a Christian to condemn evil, cowardice, lies, and use of force, hatred, and oppression.  He must at all times be a witness to and defender of justice, goodness, truth, freedom and love.  He must never tire of claiming these values as a right for himself and others.  (Emphasis added.)

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko

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As I look out on the American cultural landscape and its political terrain, I reach for the truth of Fr. Popieluszko’s words, for I like others struggle daily with how to stand exclusively as one who opposes evil and corruption and lies and hatred and godlessness without being converted to violence and the coarser ways of combat – verbal and otherwise.

The truth of the matter is that violence which others employ can convert us to violence also.  As one who grew up in a combative community where fighting and physical and verbal confrontation was routine, it is especially difficult for me to choose the witness of which Fr. Popieluszko speaks.  But he is an inspiration, and his way will be my way from now on.

Fr. Popieluszko was a parish priest in a working class neighborhood in Warsaw, Poland. He was also the Chaplin of the Solidarity (Labor) Movement which opposed the Russian-entrenched Communist dictatorship in post-World War II Poland.

October 19 will mark the 32nd anniversary of his death.  He died at age 37. Murdered by three members of a “security” unit of the government of Communist Poland (i.e., by the Communist “secret police”).

He was kidnapped and beaten and stuffed into a large weighted-down bag and thrown alive, but badly injured, into a reservoir where he died.

Yes, we see evil in our midst.  And corruption.  And the dirty tricks of Leftist politics.  And hear lies and see cover-ups and shame in high places.  And collusion between the once free “press” and their Leftist pals.  Yes, we see and hear hatred and especially hatred of those of faith and the Churches they claim as their own. Yes, godlessness is fashionable among Leftist politicos, in the universities and among the media and entertainment institutions, and in education in general. Yes, ideology and propaganda are prevalent and they distort and divide, and worse yet – sow despair within the hearts of those who listen uncritically.

I pray that I and others might take the way Fr. Jerzy describes and lived at this time of heightened conflict and discord.

Shalom.

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