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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: Testimony of Hope
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight
Carl Anderson:
Thank you all for joining us as we discuss "Testimony of Hope."

San Antonio
Did you ever meet the awesome Cardinal Thuan? What was he like?
Carl Anderson:
Yes, I did meet him at the consitory when he was made a cardinal. He was very much the type of person that you would think having read his book: humble and yet always attracting people to him.

It seems that faith is refined by the fire of persecution. Do you think we will be facing persecution in this country over pro-life issues and marriage? What is the Knights of Columbus doing to fight FOCA and same-sex marriage?
Carl Anderson:
I know some Catholic commentators are predicting such things,for example the article in First Things that deals with this. But Cardinal Van Thuan makes clear that we must provide a testimony of hope. He wrote "I dream of a Church that is a concrete witness of hope and of love," and we must be willing to be that Church, and if we are, I believe that there will be fewer of those who will seek to persecute it, and those who do will find themselves a distinct minority. American democracy is based on a deep respect for the rights of conscience and I believe the history of the civil rights movement made clear that while some may trample on that right for a time, in the long run they will not succeed.

Tim H.
Emmitsburg, MD
The Church's social teachings draw a distinct line from human dignity to human rights and duties. What can we Knights do to better frame our charitable programs -- esp. for the unborn and pregnant women in need, for the poor, for people with disabilities, etc. -- not simply as "volunteerism" but as the application of the Church's social justice teachings?
Carl Anderson:
The place we should begin is with Pope Benedict's encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. There is a great difference between volunteerism and Christian charity. As Cardinal Van Thuan points out in the book, Mother Teresa used to say - Christian charity is done for a person. This is not a small distinction. This makes all the difference. The primary way in which we can bring the Church's social teaching to bear in society is to continue to focus on the fact that we are always dealing with persons and never with objects, and that these persons have great dignity, value, and rights. If we had focused more on these values in our economic dealings over the past several years, we would not be facing the tremendous economic collapse that has occurred in the past several months.

Tim H.
Emmitsburg, MD
The Church's social justice teachings are often described as our "best-kept secret"; yet Pope John Paul II said they were a method for evangelization. How can the Knights or the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace reconcile those two ideas?
Carl Anderson:
It wouldn't be a secret if more of us lived out our Christian vocation to charity. Christian witness, whether it's Mother Teresa, Cardinal Van Thuan, or the martyrs of Rome, has always had a profound impact on those who were exposed to that witness. What the social doctrine of the Church means is that Christianity is not just a faith option for Sunday morning, but is a comprehensive, integrated way of life that extends into the entire range of human activity and does so in a way that is rational and intelligible. And I believe the more that people understand this, the more they will be attracted to the Christian way of life.

New Haven CT
OK since the world is in the midst of a population explosion, and we are rapidly running out of land, food, clean water, and other resources, how do you HOPE to provide for all these extra fetuses when you ban abortion as planned?
Carl Anderson:
It appears actually, that the opposite is true. Europe and Japan are being threatened with a demographic winter and Africa's population is being devastated by disease and war. And there are more than enough resources in the world to support the future children that God gives us. The solution is not to destroy millions of lives through abortion, but rather to call people to a higher ethical standard in terms of how they treat our resources and how they treat each other. In fact abortion provides a false "solution" that permits those who I would say are ethically challenged, regarding the use of the world's resources and real concern for their neighbor, to continue their destructive behavior. Abortion compounds the problem by masking it. It doesn't help solve it.

Caroline Jayen
Harwich, MA
I was struck by his sense of community and sense of being part of the universal church, even while in prison. Yet for me, even living in the free world with churches in every town, that sense is so often lost. Why is that, and what one do about it?
Carl Anderson:
I think this is why Cardinal Van Thuan spends so much time on conversion and on the "fiat that must always be renewed." In a way, as he points out, the distractions of every day life can make living out our faith harder than it would be without those, as the Cardinal saw in the contrast between his life in prison and his life outside. Modern life put tremendous pressure on community life within the family and within the parish. And so, in these two places especially, we have to make an extra effort. At the same time, we have to realize that we are a universal church and that we bear responsibility for brothers and sisters in the faith, in different parts of the world, especially when they are persecuted.

Dave Babbitt
W Springfield
Could you explain the "the defects of Jesus"? Sounds heretical.
Carl Anderson:
As sacred scripture says, God's ways are not man's ways. That is why we are called to renew. God's calculus is not our calculus. The term "defects," used here metaphorically, refers to the way humans would misunderstand some of the most important aspects of Christ's character, and also the benefit of those characteristics to those of us on earth.

Joseph D.
Kalamazoo, MI
I've heard that Cardinal Van Thuan’s mother played an important role in his providing him with a significant foundation for his perspective on hope and forgiveness. Do you have any insights to share regarding the principles of faith he learned from his mother?
Carl Anderson:
Cardinal Van Thuan's mother used to ask people to pray that he would keep his faith and remain where God wanted him. It is also clear from his book that he felt God's providence had placed him in prison and that he should minister there "outside the walls" of his diocese. Clearly mother and son shared a common bond of faith, and her influence here is very clear. Cardinal Van Thuan also had a deep respect for the strength of mothers and we should pay special attention to what he says in Chapter 20 about Mary being the Mother of the Church, and the Church itself being a mother.

Fairfield, CT
What do you make of the statement that Van Thuan has seen the devil "in the church and outside it" p. 179?
Carl Anderson:
Cardinal Van Thuan was commenting on earlier statements of Cardinal Lustiger - a Jewish convert to Catholicism - about seeing the devil at Auschwitz. Certainly we have seen nothing like this within the community of Christians, but when we see weakness, temptation and dissention, is it possible that we are not also seeing a glimpse of the same force that was at work at Auschwitz?

Tulsa, OK
We read a lot in the book about conversion. How can we start the process of conversion in our own lives?
Carl Anderson:
We can begin by saying a Hail Mary and by understanding that life itself is a gift that should be received with gratitude each day. Like Mary, it is necessary for us to live our lives with a "yes" each day.

Why do you suppose that Pope John Paul II chose this Cardinal to give the Jubilee Spiritual Exercises in 2000?
Carl Anderson:
Because Cardinal Van Thuan is the person who symbolized the Church of the 20th Century, who has experience of the horror of war and ideological and religious persecution and still remains faithful and continues his witness to faith, hope and love, as the Church enters a new millennium. There is every reason for the Pope who would write about "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" in the new millennium, to have the "Cardinal of Hope" give these spiritual exercises.

Carl Anderson:
Thank you all for joining us this evening, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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