“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it tacitly.”

Often religious people struggle with the question of whether it is enough for them not to do evil deeds to be considered good. Pope Francis, in an address in St. Peter’s Square on August 12, said being a good Catholic is not merely the absence of negative acts. True goodness is a product of people actively struggling against unfairness and evil in the world.

Pope Francis stated “If we do not oppose evil, we feed it tacitly. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads; because evil spreads where there are no daring Christians who oppose with good.”

The Pope was addressing a massive crowd of roughly 90,000 people, many of them young Catholics who had come to Rome as part of the Synod of Bishops. Francis called out the youth on the sin of omission, whereby an individual could have performed a good deed but did not for some reason or another.

The distinction of a good Christian from a quasi-neutral Christian was expanded on by the Pope, who insisted that people often counter this line of thinking by stating that they do not cause harm. Not causing harm does not necessarily make a person a “good” Christian; they must perform good acts to be a good Christian. Pope Francis went on to quote St. Albert Hurtado in stating “It is good not to do evil, but it is bad not to do good.”

While it is unclear what prompted this line of thinking from Pope Francis, in the modern world, it has always been clear that some would rather take a neutral position than stand against injustice. All around the globe, injustices are being carried out by groups and governments which receive tacit approval of their actions because people do not stand against them.

The Biblical stance of being good in the face of evil can be found most prominently in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus told his followers they were being sent forth like “sheep in the midst of wolves.” Rather than be aggressive and fighting directly against the wolves, these sheep would need to respond with love in order to subvert their enemies. After all, only loving one’s enemy can defeat them and make them friends; evil only begets evil.

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