St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers’ (S. Thomas, Summa theologiae, II-II, quaest. 3, art. 2, ad 2).
To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. […] Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good.
Or, in a more modern vein “all that is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”
The history of the Church teaches us that “truth is not necessarily found with the majority,” but rather in the “minority which has truly lived and witnessed to the faith,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the four ‘dubia’ cardinals, said today in Rome.
Speaking at the symposium ‘Catholic Church: Where are you heading?,’ Cardinal Brandmüller said “when Catholics en masse consider it legitimate to remarry after divorce or use contraception … this is not a mass witness to the faith, but a mass departure from it.”
Food for thought then … when is it bad to refrain from attesting to the Truth?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in Rome, April 7, 2018, quoting an encyclical from 1890, said: “Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: “Have confidence; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). […] The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power” (Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890).
Pope John XXIII taught: “All the evils which poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth—and at times even more than ignorance, a contempt for truth and a reckless rejection of it. […]
Anyone who consciously and wantonly attacks known truth, who arms himself with falsehood in his speech, his writings, or his conduct in order to attract and win over less learned men and to shape the inexperienced and impressionable minds of the young to his own way of thinking, takes advantage of the inexperience and innocence of others and engages in an altogether despicable business.”
Blessed John Henry Newman’s 1859 essay On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. emphasized the laity’s role in matters of doctrine, and sought to distinguish what is a true sensus fidei (sense of the faith) of believers and what is not.
“In the history of the people of God, it has often been not the majority but rather a minority which has truly lived and witnessed to the faith,” he said. “The experience of the Church shows that sometimes the truth of the faith has been conserved not by the efforts of theologians or the teaching of the majority of bishops but in the hearts of believers.”
Having a majority does not automatically confer “truth” and “good” and “just” upon any particular sociopolitical direction of a society or group. Can we still tell the difference between right and wrong, or is our moral compass broken irreparably?