Radio Show

“Silence” and What Constitutes Apostasy

Martin Scorsese’s new film “Silence” follows two Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they travel to Japan to search for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). Set in the 17th century, when Christianity was outlawed in Japan, the young priests learn that their old teacher has publicly renounced his faith in Christ under great duress, causing them to wrestle with the challenging themes of persecution, apostasy, and martyrdom.

After having seen the film, a caller asks Father Dave whether or not the renunciation of Christianity in circumstances of torture or persecution constitutes apostasy.

RELATED: The Uncertain Spirituality of Silence

Father Dave explains that apostasy is, by definition, the renunciation of a religious belief, regardless of the circumstances. However, he goes on to explain that if apostasy is committed due to coercion or intimidation, then the act of apostasy may not constitute the mortal sin of apostasy, as it would not have been committed with consent.

The caller then asks as a follow-up whether or not martyred saints of the Church ought to have apostatized rather than be killed for their beliefs. Father Dave compares martyrdom to a vocation, explaining that we may react to a moment of persecution differently and that some would rather lay down their lives than renounce Christ. (Original Air 01-10-17)