Fortnight For Freedom: Getting in Bed With Caesar

Tuesday, June 21, AD 2016

fortnight for freedom 2016


If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Sam Adams, August 1, 1776

(This is a repeat from last year.  I can’t improve upon it, except for minor changes that I have made.)

The American Catholic is proud to participate in this year’s Fortnight For Freedom.  The Fortnights were started in 2012 by the bishops of this country in response to the unprecedented assault on religious liberty posed by the Obama administration, to remind Catholics of the preciousness of their inheritance of freedom as Americans and Catholics and the necessity of standing up to threats to it.  All well and good, and a very worthy cause indeed.  However, the leadership of the Church appears to be schizophrenic on this subject.  While Caesar seeks to limit the freedom of the Church, too many ecclesiastics respond by wanting to get into bed with Caesar.

The examples of this are legion.

It is the policy of the Church to aid the Obama administration in flouting the immigration laws of this country, acting as a virtual arm of the State in sheltering illegal aliens.

The Church was all in favor of Obamacare, until the Obama administration targeted the Church with the contraceptive mandate.

The Green Encyclical, Laudato Si, released last year, is one long demand for Caesar to engage in an immense power grab, and regulate business and citizens to fight a mythical global warming threat.

The Vatican is supportive of UN activities that spell a mortal danger to economic freedom in the West.

The Church through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds hundreds of left wing pressure groups to call for ever bigger government, and, inevitably, further restrictions on freedom.

Welfare States require huge amounts of tax money and huge amounts of government power.  The default position of the Church today when confronting any need traditionally filled by private or Church charity, is to scream for Caesar to come fix things.  This bastardized parody of the social teachings of the Church inevitably comes back to bite the Church as Caesar will always exact a price for his favors and under the Obama administration that price is for the Church to bend the knee to contraception, abortion and gay marriage.  For all too many of our shepherds that is a small price to pay to keep the government largesse flowing.  There is a reason why Christ whipped the money changers from the Temple and why He uttered the phrase to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.   These days the Church too often seems willing to bow the knee to Caesar, no matter what Caesar demands, so long as the funds from Caesar keep flowing.

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2 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Getting in Bed With Caesar

5 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 3)

  • I think the Catechism deals with the question of patriotism vs. what you call “My Country Right or Wrong abuse of patriotism”. The Catechism would call the latter nationalism. Patriotism itself is seen as a reflection of the virtue of justice as as such a proper duty for each person.

  • No argument there. Patriotism is a good thing, but is soured when it begins the process of excusing/overlooking/or outright supporting moral evils or lackings in a given nation. I use the term patriotism more than nationalism because most Americans are unfamiliar with the term nationalism to describe things here in the U.S., and find it convenient to hide behind the term- patriotism- as if you couldn’t go wrong being patriotic even to the extreme. What is that old saying- patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels- or something like that. I see this sort of thing in the drumbeat to war- in the debate on how best to “Support the Troops”. I will write a future article on my own decision to join the military in the early 80’s, and how my thinking goes today. Patriotism is something that we can all relate to, and it is a great discussion to have among serious Catholics. We don’t want to fall into the Zealots camp anymore than we want to become likened to the Pharisees- both missed Jesus bigtime!

  • C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” discusses the various types of love of country. To summarize what he said — which I have found very helpful — patriotism exists on several levels.

    At its most basic it is simply an attachment to your home and culture, to the things you grew up with (food, music, holidays, landscape, etc.) This type of patriotism, Lewis says, is usually not at all aggressive, but simply wants to be left alone, and respects other people’s right to enjoy their “homes” equally. I suspect that for many Americans, this kind of patriotism attaches to their home state or city as well as to their country.

    Another type of patriotism is pride in the legendary or iconic deeds and words of the country’s heroes and founders (e.g. the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, Washington chopping down the cherry tree, Old West cowboys). Lewis says there is nothing wrong with this kind of patriotism or pride in one’s country, but it should NOT be confused with the actual, factual history of one’s country, which has to include the bad as well as the good.

    The last and potentially most dangerous form of patriotism is the belief that one’s country is inherently superior to all others. Attempting to remake other countries in the image of one’s own can be done aggressively through war, or commercially through colonization, or in more subtle ways. It is this kind of patriotism that corresponds most closely with “nationalism” in the sense that the Catechism uses.

  • Right on elaine- I have absorbed a lot of C.S. Lewis over the years- I really like the above description- thanks

  • Tim,

    Back from Father’s Day weekend. It may be that Americans may confuse the term but perhaps that is that it has not been used with them. Given that we are seeking to form the basis of the conversation for understanding political community it would also be good to start with proper terms. I agree with Elaine that C.S. Lewis has good insight to this though again it would be good to distinguish the terms. I find most Americans capable of learning this even given the status of Public Education. As for the Zeolots/Pharisees and Nationalism see:

    Since we are trying to understand the political community I would also say that we do not think of Jesus in terms of “revolution.” Such a term has political implications all its own. Redemption is I believe a better Catholic starting point.