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An Extract from a talk by Father Werenfried van Straaten

At the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a Mass and a presentation on April 5, 1988, Father Werenfried van Straaten - "the Bacon Priest" - told his many listeners that "the Kingdom of Christ on earth depends largely on our witness. Modern man will not be convinced by a Gospel printed on paper, but only by our proclaiming the Good News in living deeds of love." Father van Straaten is the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

The Fire of Affliction

These days, when even Church diplomats are obviously convinced that the Communist tide must sooner or later flood the whole earth, the Church is more than ever tempted to use diplomatic means to reach agreement with the irreconcilable enemies of God in order to save a minimum of Church structures. Experience has unfortunately taught us that the enemies of God only tolerate the existence of this mutilated residue of a Church in order to misuse it as an ally in their fight against God, in order to throw the faithful into confusion and bring the martyrs to despair.

Thefaithful behind the Iron Curtain do not need compromise bishops, who are fettered to the regime with golden chains, but Apostles, purified in the fire of affliction, who in simple dwellings or in the noise of factories proclaim the Gospel by their lives and by their deeds. Not the preservation of Church administrative structures in which the woodworm of Communism lies, but the life-giving strength of God, seeping uncontrollably into the veins of the Mystical Body, can guarantee the future of the Church and make her that holy sign which in the end not even Communists can withstand.

But the attempt to improve the Church's situation by political means leads many to underestimate supernatural means, and is conducive to spiritual armistice, capitulation, reconciliation where there should be no reconciliation, peace where no peace is possible, and the denial of Christ, who in His heroes and saints remains true to the strategy of the cross.

This fighting Christ of today, recognizable in the courage of Cardinal Mindszenty, and so many martyrs behind the Iron Curtain, is still the only hope of salvation for the Church in need. Let us make this salvation surer by following Christ faithfully and without shunning sacrifice.

"I saw the danger of Communism early on, and the supernatural events at Fatima made me recognize the nature of the danger and the true face of Communism: the fundamental denial of God and the persecution of His children. It was Fatima that helped me to see through the illusion that Communism could change by itself. The warning of Pius XI, which revealed Communism in all its rottenness, strengthened my conviction."

... Father Werenfried van Straaten