PopeWatch: Of Cowards and Courage

Well, the Lord hates a coward.

David Mamet, Untouchables Screenplay

The well-known Catholic Italian writer Vittorio Messori has said he and “many Catholics are concerned, some are even desperate” about the current state of the Church, but that he is not without hope because Christ never leaves his Church alone.

Messori, who wrote The Ratzinger Report with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Crossing the Threshold of Hope with Pope St. John Paul II, told the Italian Catholic daily La Fede Quotidiana Sept. 17 that confusion is “present and it is saddening, confounding.”

He said a kind of “conformism” about Pope Francis exists, which is “palpable” in the Church.

“It’s disconcerting that only two or three almost 90-year-old cardinals speak and protest,” he observed, adding that he knows of “many bishops and also cardinals whom I have dialogued with in private who are pulling their hair out in disagreement.”

“But they are afraid, silent, shutting up,” he said.

Messori noted that for two millennia criticism of the pope had been discouraged but today this tendency is “accentuated.”

“It’s said this is the Church of mercy, but it’s nonsense,” he said. “Those in command are intolerant of every critical voice.”

Go here to read the rest.  Just before the battle of Lepanto, masses were said throughout the Christian fleet.  The sermons of the priests were all on the same subject:  No Heaven for Cowards.

The sainted mother of PopeWatch used to say that not all of us are born brave, but that we all have duties to perform, brave or not.  CS Lewis in the The Screwtape Letters nailed it:

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, the Enemy permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame. The danger of inducing cowardice in our patients, therefore, is lest we produce real self-knowledge and self-loathing with consequent repentance and humility. And in fact, in the last war, thousands of humans, by discovering their own cowardice, discovered the whole moral world for the first time. In peace we can make many of them ignore good and evil entirely; in danger, the issue is forced upon them in a guise to which even we cannot blind them. There is here a cruel dilemma before us. If we promoted justice and charity among men, we should be playing directly into the Enemy’s hands; but if we guide them to the opposite behaviour, this sooner or later produces (for He permits it to produce) a war or a revolution, and the undisguisable issue of cowardice or courage awakes thousands of men from moral stupor.

This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

An essential element in sainthood is courage.  The path to Hell is ever paved with acts of cowardice, big and small.


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  1. “But they are afraid, silent, shutting up,” he said.”

    Fear is a killer.
    Fear is Satan’s best weapon.
    Fear keeps the enemy close and allows the progress of destruction.

    Holy fear of God is what we could be praying for…for the pastors, bishops and cardinal’s who are paralyzed by fear.

    Mary, Our Immaculata, help them.

  2. I suspect that a bulk of the 1/3 of the angels that fell into hell, fell by cowardice. Lucifer’s power at the beginning of time seemingly to be overwhelming. Once that Choice was made, they could not as an angel go back on it, hell is their abode.

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