April 14, 2014

OTTAWA – Andrew Bennett, Canada's ambassador of religious freedom, urged a Christian audience here April 4 to engage in the public sphere, proclaim truth and champion human dignity.

Christians are very good at discussing politics, economics and social responsibility in private spaces "in which we feel safe and comfortable," Bennett said. "Yet, Christ does not call the Christian to be safe and comfortable."

He urged instead "greater efforts to participate in society openly as Christians and refrain from the temptation to either ghettoize ourselves into the comfortable pew or place our Christianity in a drawer when it is inconvenient to proclaim it."

Dean of Augustine College, a small, one-year Christian college, Bennett delivered the college's annual Westin Lecture.

A devout Catholic, he described a list of places many Christians consider "seemingly off limits: workplaces, schools and universities, social organizations and even families where the risk of offending we perceive to be ever-present."

It's not enough to "simply present this faith" to others and "have done with it," he said.

"It must be continually given voice in a spirit of engagement with the world and love of others which includes Christians, people of other faiths earnestly seeking God, and those people who freely choose not to have religious faith."

The mystery of the Incarnation "reveals to us we are essentially good; that we are created in the image and likeness of God," he said. It also calls us to recognize that essential humanity in others.

Yet Bennett noted seeing human dignity in others is not always easy.

He challenged those who might participate in the National March for Life to pass by counter-protestors. "Can you see Christ in the people yelling at you from the sidelines?"