fulton sheen

Fulton J. Sheen, “America is Suffering From Tolerance”

fulton sheen

My view is simple.  When I meet a person who says, “I am Catholic, but,…” it is my immediate conclusion that he/she is not Catholic. In matters of faith and morals, the Church has a reasonably long history of leading the flock.

Fulton J Sheen

Even though he died quite some time ago, what Fulton J Sheen has written tends to remain quite current and true. On his television program one evening, he looked into the camera and said rather forcefully,

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

On another occasion, he explained the problem with simple broadmindedness. “Broadmindedness, when it means indifference to right and wrong, eventually ends in a hatred of what is right.”

Suffering from Tolerance?

As Catholics by and large, and as part of a larger Christian community, we are told to be tolerant and stand by as a female ( I would use the word “mother”, but that is the wrong descriptor) decides to have her preborn child killed since it is only a blob of parasitic cells which hold the promise of disrupting her life. There is a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan where it is reported he said, “It seems to me that the people in favor of abortion have already been born.”

We are told to be tolerant when a fellow, who may be a member of a tiny population of society ( well under 2% ), wishes to use a women’s restroom in which children, young women, teens, and nuns may be present, simply because he may feel he needs to be in touch with his female side that day.

Christians are told to be tolerant when a “couple” wishes to have their same-sex union celebrated. We are told that it is only right that as a result of a legal action a person’s shop is forced to close rather than supply a cake or make a dress, or any number of other reasons.

We are told to be tolerant as scientists cut and splice DNA to “correct” defects.  We are told that doctors, among others, should make the decisions when to end a person’s life.

I Am Proud to be Intolerant

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things, we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”  — Fulton J. Sheen

Equipped with this wisdom, I believe that Catholics must be intolerant in so far as evil or a disruption of moral teachings, and societal mores are concerned.  Failure to display intolerance becomes tantamount to a complete giving in, as Archbishop Sheen observed,

“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

While not necessarily emulating the movie “Network” and flinging the window open  to yell ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’” , we are called upon to correct our brothers in society and help them see that the current social order is a bit off center. As an example, how does it make any sense that any government should pay organizations to kill their pre-born citizens via abortion?

Aren’t Christians called to turn the other cheek? Aren’t they simply supposed to be meek and sheepish? To some extent perhaps, but, there are many instances where we are told to admonish, correct, or otherwise council our brothers when we see them in error.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15  “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.”

These and several other quotes tell us that we must correct that which is wrong, but, we must do so with love and not with hate. Failure to correct our brothers ( society in general ) is the first step down the slippery slope which will end potentially with the loss of any religion at all.

“A religion that doesn’t interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.” — Fulton J. Sheen