Evangelization can be frustrating. After 25 years evangelizing in my personal life and in official roles with the Church, including as a diocesan Director of Evangelization, I know this well. Few Catholics, of course, would be surprised that evangelization can be arduous. They may be surprised, however, at the way censorship in the Church poses a threat to evangelization. The little-known truth is that certain viewpoints, even though compatible with Catholic theology, are censored both by the institutional Church as well as many orthodox Catholic organizations—viewpoints that directly impact the success of evangelization efforts.
When the word “censorship” comes up, many people think of tyrannical authorities brutally enforcing censorship rules. Books are burned, people are arrested, and the masses cower in fear of retaliation if the wrong words are said or printed. Totalitarian governments and censorship go together like Fr. James Martin and the rainbow flag. But another form of censorship is more prevalent today, what I would call “soft censorship.” This type of censorship is enforced by keeping certain information and views from being published in official news outlets, mocking and vilifying anyone who holds to “wrong” views, and ignoring reality when it doesn’t conform to the official narrative. Soft censorship is rampant in the mainstream media and university campuses today, but those aren’t the only places it flourishes. Soft censorship is also at work within the Catholic Church.
Evangelization, however, cannot thrive in a censored environment. Evangelization means bringing people to the truth, and freedom is necessary for truth to flourish (and we know that conversely the truth will make people free). Topics that impact evangelization must be debated in a free and open way. And no event has had more impact on Catholic evangelization, and the modern Church in general, than the Second Vatican Council. Yet it is the topic of this very Council that is the most heavily censored within the Church.