In Christ’s Passion, we see what we ought to suffer for the truth, and in His resurrection, what we ought to hope for in eternity.—St. Thomas Aquinas.
Jesus Christ died for love of every man and woman and child who would ever live, and this was done on occasion of our many sins throughout time. But if you look at the above quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, you see that the more immediate and historical cause of Christ’s death was His defense of “the truth.” That is, Christ would not compromise on the truth of His Father’s religion or liturgy. The Sanhedrein had been targeting Christ for at least two years, but we learn in the Gospels, especially those of Passiontide, that the Pharisees’ hatred was greatly fed by Christ’s raising of Lazarus and His cleansing of the Temple. Again, St. Thomas Aquinas: “In Christ’s Passion, we see what we ought to suffer for the truth…
“…and in His resurrection, what we ought to hope for in eternity.” We can extrapolate from this two-part sentence of St. Thomas that we only get to hope for a glorified body in heaven if we have suffered for the truth on earth. Not just if we were patient Christians (yes, an important part of 1 Cor 13) and not just if we served the poor (yes, an important part of Mt 25) but especially if we suffered for the truth (See all of John’s Gospel.) Although Christ always condescended in mercy to the weak, He never compromised on the truth when faced with hierarchical leaders who tried to change the one true-religion of His time.
Sometimes even conservative Catholics say well-meaning things like “The truth doesn’t need any defense” or “Win the argument but lose the soul.” Of course we must be merciful and loving in theological arguments, but that does not mean we can ever put a pinch of incense on the smallest error for “pastoral reasons” if we hope to obtain heaven. The fact is that if we want to save as many souls as possible, we must insist that Jesus is the only way to the Father. That is why Christ died and rose again. Indeed, these are historical facts upon which our Catholic faith is founded.
We must put truth before compromise primarily because the First Great Commandment comes before the Second Great Commandment. But even the Second Great Commandment is better served by non-compromise. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre insisted in an interview (suppressed by the USCCB in 1988 but now found on the Catholic Apologetics website) 1 that most Orthodox, Jews and Muslims are disgusted with ecumenism and long for someone—anyone—to stand up for what they believe in, especially someone in the Catholic Church.
Notice in the following interview-exerpt that Archbishop Lefebvre recounts how Muslims treated Vatican ambassadors in the late 1980s:
Interviewer: What happened?
AB. Lefebvre: I do not recall all the specific details, but this incident happened in Tripoli, Libya, where the representative of the pope wanted to pray with the Moslems. These Moslems refused and went about their separate ways and prayed in their fashion, leaving the representative high and dry, not knowing what to do. This illustrates the naiveté of these liberal Catholics who feel that it is enough to talk with these Moslems and for them to accept immediately a compromise of their own religion. The mere fact of wanting to have a close relationship with the Moslems for that purpose only attracts the contempt of the Moslems toward us. It is a well-known fact that Moslems will never change anything of their religion; it is absolutely out of the question. If the Catholics come to equate our religion with theirs, it only leads to confusion and contempt, which they take as an attempt to discredit their religion and not caring about our religion. They are far more respectful of anyone who says that, “I am a Catholic; I cannot pray with you because we do not have the same convictions.” This person is more respected by the Moslems than the one who says that all the religions are the same; that we all believe the same things; we all have the same faith. They feel this person is insulting them.
Later in the interview, AB. Lefebvre insists that members of various other world-religions are not attracted by ecumenism, but by uncompromising truth:
Interviewer: Do you ever feel alone and isolated?
Lefebvre: How can I feel alone when I am in communion with 262 popes and the whole of the Catholic faith? If you mean alone among other bishops, the answer is no. Hardly a day goes by that I (do not) receive some communication from some bishops, some priests, some laymen from different parts of the world expressing support and encouragement.
Interviewer: Why do they not come out publicly and support you?
Lefebvre: As I have mentioned previously, many feel that they want to keep their positions in order to be in a position to do something about it should the occasion arise.
Interviewer: Does your stand separate you further from other Christian denominations?
Lefebvre: Not at all. Only five days ago, some Orthodox heads came to see me to express their support for our stand.
Interviewer: Why should they express support when in fact you say that you are right and they are in error?
Lefebvre: It is precisely because my stand is unequivocal that they support me. Many other Christian denominations have always looked at Rome as something of a stabilizing anchor in a tumultuous world. Whatever happened, they felt, Rome was always there, eternal, unchanging. This presence gave them comfort and confidence. Even more surprising are the Islamic leaders who have warmly congratulated me on my stand even though they fully know that I do not accept their religion.
Interviewer: Would not Christian charity try to avoid solidifying differences and divisions that could be healed?
Lefebvre: Differences and divisions are part of this world. The unity of the Church can only be gained by example and unswerving commitment to our Catholic faith. Charity starts with loyalty to one’s faith.
Interviewer: What makes you believe that significant numbers of Orthodox, Protestants or Moslems support you?
Lefebvre: Apart from direct, frequent contact these people have made with me, there was, for example, an extensive survey conducted by a reputable newspaper in Paris and they have surveyed members of these various denominations. The result was that far from finding our faith offensive or threatening to them, they admired the unequivocal stand, which we are taking. On the other hand, they show utter contempt for all those liberal Catholics who were trying to make a mishmash of our Catholic faith as well as their religion.