The more I hear from Archbishop O’Malley, the better I feel about him. I’m starting to be convinced by arguments that he is purposefully taking his time in making changes in Boston in order that they carry the fullest impact. The latest example is his homily at the Chrism Mass yesterday. He called on the priests of Boston to embrace the “martyrdom” of preaching the Gospel to a”hostile, alien environment.” He said they have to speak out on “public issues” and “social causes”, warning that “no one will follow an uncertain trumpet blast.”
O’Malley compared the Catholic Church in the United States to “exiles in the midst of Babylon.” He said Catholics “find themselves in a hostile, alien environment where the overriding temptation is to assimilate, the cultural pull is to conform to a dominant cultural influence that is incongruous with our faith and our destiny.” And, he said, the central claims of Catholic faith are received “if not with hostility, at best with the yawn of indifference.”
“Today, our challenge is simple: to resist the temptation to conform to the culture of death, to consumerism, hedonism, individualism,” he said. Much of that language echoes Pope John Paul II’s critique of American culture.
Archbishop O’Malley is himself an accomplished preacher and isn’t shy about standing up in the pulpit for the Truth. Of course, as we all know too well, preaching isn’t the sole barometer. Actions must follow words, and people look to their priests to live the faith they preach, and to be as firm in the Truth outside the pulpit as they are in it.