Let us preach Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives. And let us support each other - whatever the cost - so that when we make our accounting to the Lord, we will be numbered among the faithful and courageous, and not the cowardly or the evasive, or those who compromised until there was nothing left of their convictions; or those who were silent when they should have spoken the right word at the right time. (Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. CAP.)
With genuine authority, the Archbishop of Philadelphia reminds us that in an age that has lost its moral compass and seems content to drift aimlessly upon the waves of indifference, complacency and apathy, the teachings of Our Lord and His Gospel call us back to the solid ground of authentic Truth.
Sacred Scripture testifies that Jesus spoke with an authority like no one else (Luke 4:32). What is it about the authority of Jesus that so powerfully attracted some, and threatened others?
Jesus' unique authority is found in His unity with the Father, and His conviction to do the will of the Father. His words and actions were united in a single act of love. Is this not what Archbishop Chaput is alluding to? Many today speak of the qualities of good leadership but rarely speak of sound authority as lived by Jesus, His Apostles and the Saints.
In speaking of the Jewish leaders of His day, Jesus tells the people to follow their teachings but not to follow their examples. (Matthew 23:3) In other words, they had a certain legitimate authority by virtue of their position, but they lacked the full authority that comes from unity with God. What attracted (or repulsed) people was Jesus' love, conviction and willingness to endure the consequences of telling the truth.
Is this not the kind of authority we need today, and should we not demand this of our leaders?
Two examples of genuine authority are found in the witness of Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Prince Alois of Lichtenstein. Both of these men give clear examples of conviction and courage, and thus, of genuine authority. Unyielding, they both testify with love to the Gospel of Life.
Prince Alois courageously proclaimed that if the majority of voters attempted to legalize abortion via a referendum in the first 12 weeks of a woman's pregnancy and in the case of fetal deformity, that he would veto this clear attack on life. Taking such a clear and potentially unpopular stand has consequences - he has placed himself at odds with some of the so-called leaders of Lichtenstein. Their decision, in light of the Prince's stance, was to push another referendum aimed at limiting his veto power, an authority given to the Monarchy since 1806.
In his stand for the Law of God, in his clear conviction and courage, Prince Alois speaks with genuine authority. He has stated that the Royal Family, if not allowed to exercise its historical prerogative to veto legislation that is against the law of God and of his nation, will "completely withdraw from political life." This is conviction and witness at work. This is authority!
We have another example of authentic authority in Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, whose convictions are echoed in his powerful words:
They forget that Chile has a more than one hundred year tradition of protecting fundamental rights, that we were one of the first countries in the world to establish liberty for the children of slaves and prohibit slavery. And precisely the way that a society treats its weakest members -- senior citizens, the sick, the most poor, those who suffer some sort of handicap, and unborn children -- says [much]much about the level of its civilization than its material wealth, the height of its buildings, the quality of its infrastructure, or its military might. (March 21, 2012)
Those holding political power ought to consider the examples of these two leaders. They stand in the midst of conflict, confusion and blatant rejection of truth, and with authority, lead. They are not moved by the political winds or ideological agendas of their constituents, but by objective truth. Instead of seeking the politically correct position, those in leadership ought to consider they are potentially leading their people and countries to destruction. A watered down conviction eventually leads to no conviction.
Thank you President Pinera and Prince Alois for your courage, conviction and witness to authentic authority.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International