Essay about Shusaku Endo's Silence

3289 Words 14 Pages
Shusaku Endo's Silence

The novel Silence has provoked much discussion on Loyola's campus this semester. As a predominantly Christian community, we find that the themes and dilemmas central to its plot land much closer to home for us than they would for many other schools: to non-Christians, the question of whether to deny (the Christian) God--for any reason--may not necessarily be such a personal one. Jesus' commandments to love God above all and one's neighbor as oneself do not find a parallel in all religions or cultures, nor does the seriousness with which Christians--specifically Catholics, and more specifically, Jesuits--have traditionally treated it.

Examining the problems facing Father Rodrigues from a Christian perspective,
…show more content…
The first problem that I will discuss is a somewhat smaller one: namely, what, if any, bearing Rodrigues' membership in the clergy ought to have had on his decision to apostatize.

We must not forget that Rodrigues' apostasy was not mere apostasy. Unlike Kichijiro, whose numerous apostasies serve no other interest than that of saving his own hide, Rodrigues is placed in the difficult situation of having the lives of Christian Japanese peasants threatened due to his refusal to deny his god. And as he is, in all probability, the only surviving Christian priest in Japan by this point in the novel (ignoring, for lack of any substantial reason to consider it, the potential presence of the four other missionaries of whom Endo speaks in the book's Prologue (Endo, 7)), all Christians in the country are by default his congregation. I believe that the key to understanding his actions lies in the realization that his was not choice between apostatizing and not apostatizing, but rather one between apostatizing and seeing his people--his flock--tortured. His priesthood is a source of immense pride for Rodrigues, and he mentions it time and again throughout the book. Witness, for example, this selection: "Were I an ordinary Christian, not a priest, would I have fled in the same way [as Kichijiro]? What kept me going now might be my self-respect and my priestly sense of duty." (Endo, 62)

I think that Thomas Aquinas in particular would have something very definite to say on the

Related Documents