“Ask a Priest: Should We Speak Up When We See Things Amiss?”

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Q: With so much going on that’s against our faith (abortion, violent protesters of various kinds, etc.), do we have an obligation to speak up? What if it’s around us and no one is talking to us, per se? It’s hard seeing such terrible things from friends on social media, yet is it my place to say something? I tend to stay quiet, but I get the feeling too many people are staying quiet. At the same time there aren’t many people who actually want to discuss things. They just want to hear from people with similar views. – A.M.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You “get the feeling too many people are staying quiet.” There is a lot of truth to that.

People of faith need to speak up more in the public arena. The forces of darkness certainly aren’t bashful about promoting their views.

It’s one thing to say the right thing. It’s another to say in the right place at the right time to the right people.

If you see “terrible things” from friends on social media, it might be a great act of charity to offer a bit of fraternal correction. Help them to consider the Christian viewpoint. Otherwise, our silence can be construed as consent. This we want to avoid.

The best defense in this case might be a strong offense. That is, look for ways to let your views be known on an ongoing basis.

You might adopt a biblical passage as part of your signature in e-mails, for instance. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). That kind of thing can signal to others where you stand on abortion.

When you do feel the need to say something, it might help to pray about it first. If you write an e-mail, let it sit for a while. Then re-read it and see if its tone is charitable. Folks are more open to hearing another point of view if it is done charitably.

You might consider, too, whether it’s worth trying to raise certain issues with people. You mention that some people just want to hear from others with similar views.

Folks caught in an echo chamber find it hard to hear opposing viewpoints, so you would want to be prudent. Attempts at dialogue with them might only end up making them antagonistic toward the Christian message. Remember Jesus’ warning about throwing pearls in the wrong place (Matthew 7:6).

Then again, not all issues have the same weight. Some issues are more debatable from a moral and prudential point of view.

A group might have some good goals as well as questionable goals, without its being explicitly anti-Catholic. This kind of thing isn’t on the same level as the killing of unborn children.

So, you might want to pick your battles well. You need not feel as though you have to speak up about everything. We don’t need to make daily life a constant string of arguments. Even Jesus picked his battles well. But when he did, he battled stalwartly.

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  1. This is a great question. I have seen and read some things on social media to as of late. I also go onto a student chat group, students from all places usually the UK and USA are on it to chat about problems etc. It is getting very worrying the amount of people who think things are okay to do when they are not. I have started speaking out, no one knows who I am in the chat group. But for example there was a girl who was in a panic after she had taken the morning after pill she got a bad health scare in connection with it, it was not her first time taking it either. I told her that she would be best to be chaste until marriage and told her why. As far as I see it not only is marriage something special and to be approved of by God but I also see things like morning after pill as being horrible it puts the woman in the position of feeling horrible and it can affect her health and her mental health. It most likely will eat away at her! and if she had not have done anything outside marriage she would feel pure and chaste and that is more wonderful than anything. It is as if evil has tricked people into doing things and thinking that things are normal in society.

    We have to help open their eyes to that trickery.

    One person replied to me saying that I should have told her to take birth control and not to tell her to be chaste as after all it is “2020” that is what they said. So I replied, yes it is 2020 and look at the horrible world that we are creating because we are walking away from God and his rules and wishes. His rules are from love and his rules are there for us in order to protect us and keep evil away from us. Yes it is 2020 and look at what humans are becoming! It is very frightening and sad.
    No one answered the above but I think that it was food for thought.

    Yes we should speak up, and if you are nervous of doing so then you can make yourself anonymous on occasions. If it is on facebook with your friends, then yes say something gently but firmly and with emotion. People are getting less and less empathic and they need to get their hearts back. for example saying that is wrong because how would the person you are making fun of feel? you have to have empathy and kindness in this world. Sometimes saying things that can generate some emotion in the person who is saying/doing wrong can be enough to help them.

    We have to speak up in order to do our very best to help guide people back onto the right path if we can. And if we fail we can try again, and if we cant help them at least we tried our best and in time they will remember what you said and it might be a moment in the future where they realize what you said was right and in that moment they might very well and hopefully turn back to our Father.

    It takes courage and inner strength to speak up , but pray to God and ask for his help. He will help you.

  2. Also if you think that they might not like Christian messages try it from a moral perspective, saying that is no morally right because… and maybe after that if they do listen you could mention about God if you think it is appropriate to do so. It is just so sad that people are not making themselves aware of Gods word.
    Praying for them too can help. If you are worried about someone or even read of someone who is doing /saying wrong then pray for them too.

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