My pastor was trying to write a parish mission statement when, forsaking all modesty, I blurted out, “Father, you can write our mission statement in six words: Glorify God, Save Souls, Make Saints. He liked it and promptly had it emblazoned on—the collection envelopes! About a week later, trying (as writers do, to revise, and, in this case, to establish perfect first-letter parallelism), I changed it to Glorify God, Save Souls, Teach Truth. It was too late, for the order was off to the printer.
Here, though, I concern myself with the third element of my parish mission statement (and our primordial duty as Catholics): We are to teach truth, “using words when necessary.” As we attempt to sort through the controversies surrounding priests who speak out “politically,” we have an acid test by which, in good measure, to determine if they should be commended or censured: Do they boldly but benevolently speak the truth, knowledge of which and commitment to which will set us free?
In New York, Father Kenneth Boller, SJ, led a prayer, during Mass, against “white privilege.” In Indiana, Father Theodore Rothrock denounced Black Lives Matter organizers as “maggots and parasites.” In Wisconsin, Father James Altman contended that one cannot ethically be at once a Catholic and a Democrat. There are—and will be—many other examples of such “free speech.”