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Defending the Faith ConferenceGroeschel Challenges Participants: "Show People the Truth"
Posted: Friday, August 1, 2008
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STEUBENVILLE, OH—“We should act like we believe that this is Christ’s Church and his holy and mystical body,” said Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, at the July 25-27 Defending the Faith Conference. “We need to be worthy of the vocation that we have, which is belonging to the Catholic Church. To those to whom much is given, much is expected.”
Over 1,200 adults from the U.S, Canada, Australia, and Ghana came to the conference hosted by biblical scholar Dr. Scott Hahn at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
In his homily Father Groeschel challenged Catholics to “be the wheat in a field of wheat and weeds. “That’s what I hope you do here at the Defending the Faith Conference. Defend it against distortion and misunderstanding and show people the truth.”
Dr. Benjamin Wiker, a senior fellow with the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Discovery Institute, spoke about the rise of “neo-atheism.
“Atheism isn’t really a new trend, we see forms of atheism throughout history. What’s new is that they are no longer very polite. They are agitated and militant.” He stressed that people should become more educated against their attacks and know how to respond correctly.
“It’s important to defend the faith against them, because they have no qualms at all about attacking the faith. You don’t want to leave the realm of reason and philosophy open, because that’s what Richard Dawkins and his friends are trying to undermine. Usually we have to defend the dogmatic realm of faith, but we also have to defend the reasoning of faith and philosophy as well.”
Wiker mentioned John Paul II’s encyclical “Faith and Reason” as an example that Catholics can use to start defending the very foundation of the Church.
Going through Dawkins’ arguments, Wiker refuted many of his points. “Dawkins’ god is chance,” he says. “As you find out reading his material, chance for Dawkins is a kind of miraculous power, and he uses it to destroy the faith, that is to destroy the belief in God.”
He warned people to critically examine Dawkins’ arguments, because Dawkins appeals to science, even when other scientists disagree with his examples. “When you swallow that line,” said Wiker, “then you are swallowing a very unhealthy dose of rhetorical swindling and error.”
Sister Sarah Butler of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity spoke on the recent influx of women’s “ordinations.”
“The media makes a very big issue on this, as it looks to them like a major injustice, that women are being excluded,” she said. “In the Catholic Church, we believe that Christ himself instituted a ministry that would carry forward his own teaching through the ages through the sacramentality of men who would represent him as bishops and priests.”
She explained that if people think that the priesthood is simply a public leadership role then they have the wrong idea of what the priesthood is. “There’s a distinction between the Catholic understanding of the priesthood and the Protestant understanding of the ordained ministry. Many people have lost sight of it.”
She said women’s “ordination” supporters think the Church objects because it relates to an evaluation of women’s nature or character traits.
“It’s not a power struggle between men and women. It’s that some men have been chosen for an office in which they act not by reason of their own holiness of competence but because of the sacramental consecration that Christ entrusts to them.”
Sister Sarah Butler showed that this issue was debated even in the early Church, and the answer was as clear then as it is now. “This has been the norm and when anyone departed from the norm, even in the second and third centuries, they were denounced immediately as unfaithful.”
Jeff Cavins, former host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, told attendees that “we live between the cross and the resurrection,” and that the Apostle Paul had “courage to stand and tell people to follow God. This is something that we must do as well.”
Cavins reminded conference participants that during Paul’s time, the culture measured people based on wealth and prestige. They valued the opinions of those who were able to stand in the streets and speak eloquently.
“Do we see that today?” asked Cavins. “Has anyone seen CNN lately? Paul says that it is not through rhetoric that the truth can be found, but through the wisdom of the cross.”
For audio recordings of the main talks from the Defending the Faith Conference and other summer conferences, go to www.franciscan.edu/bookstore and click on the "Your Kingdom Come!" logo.