10

March for Life Wins Against HHS Mandate

Judge Richard Leon

 

Federal District Judge Richard Leon has ruled in favor of the March for Life in its suit against the HHS Mandate.  Law Professor Josh Blackman explains the basis for his opinion:

 

In March for Life v. Burwell, Judge Leon (D.D.C.) found that HHS could not enforce the contraceptive mandate against March for Life, a staunchly pro-life group that is not religious. Beyond the conventional RFRA analysis, the court found that HHS lacks a rational basis to exempt religious organizations that oppose abortion, but not similarly situated secular organizations with the same beliefs. This analysis echoes a point we made in the Cato Amicus in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor–that HHS lacks the interpretive authority to pick and choose which religious organizations can receive exemptions from the mandate.

Judge Leon’s analysis, though grounded in equal protection doctrine, reaches a very similar conclusion. Here is the key analysis:

What emerges is a curious rationale indeed. HHS has chosen to protect a class of individuals [Houses of worship only] that, it believes, are less likely than other individuals to avail themselves of contraceptives. It has consequently moored this accommodation not in the language of conscientious objection, but in the vernacular of religious protection. This, of course, is puzzling. In HHS’s own view, it is not the belief or non-belief in God that warrants safe harbor from the Mandate. The characteristic that warrants protection–and employment relationship based in part on a shared objection to abortifacients–is altogether separate from theism. Stated differently, what HHS claims to be protecting is religious belief, when it actually is protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of human life. Where HHS has erred, however, is in assuming that this trait is unique to such organizations [Houses of worship]. It is not.

The court goes on to explain that March for Life, and its employees, share a pro-life philosophy. Indeed, their employees work there to advocate their views.

On the spectrum of “likelihood” that undergirds HHS’s policy decisions, March for Life’s employees are, to put it mildly, “unlikely” to use contraceptives. In this respect, March for Life and exempted religious organizations are not just “similarly situated,” they are identically situated.

The court finds this classification cannot be supported by a rational basis:

HHS has chosen, however, to accommodate this moral philosophy only when it is overtly tied to religious values. HHS provides no principled basis, other than the semantics of religious tolerance, for its distinction. If the purpose of the religious employer exemption is, as HHS states, to respect the anti-abortifacient tenets of an employer relationship, then it makes no rational sense–indeed no sense whatsoever–to deny March for Life that same respect. 

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26

An Illiberal Catholic Assault on Hobby Lobby

Note: once again, this is a guest post by Stephen Herreid, not Bonchamps.

“Well, it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.” – President Barack Obama

“…America was never well-founded, so either needs to be differently re-founded or at least endured, even survived.” – Patrick Deneen

Faced with the historic government overreach that is the HHS mandate, it ought to be easier than ever for Christians to know who their enemies are. One would hope that in this desperate time conservatives and Christians would unite against the enemies of the Church, and defend the religious liberty that has already been half-robbed from us. Unlike in many other countries, where Christians are already third class citizens and some are killed and violated by the thousands, America is the home of a long-standing Constitutional Republic, a Rule of Law tradition that explicitly protects and honors our religious liberty. The army of the Left is united in its effort to topple that grand tradition and the Church that it protects. Appallingly, the army of the Right is not so united in their defense.

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4

Fortnight For Freedom: HHS Mandate and Religious Freedom

 

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

Bravo to the Thomas More Law Center that won a preliminary injuction against enforcement of the HHS Mandate as to their clients Thomas R. Beckwith and Beckwith Electric.

The Government claimed that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace or incorporate his business, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.

However, Judge Kovachevich’s 37-page decision which mentioned Thomas R. Beckwith’s unique family history—Beckwith’s ancestors arrived on the shores of America in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England — ended with a powerful statement on religious freedom:

 

 

“The First Amendment, and its statutory corollary the RFRA, endow upon the citizens of the United States the unalienable right to exercise religion, and that right is not relinquished by efforts to engage in free enterprise under the corporate form. No legislative, executive, or judicial officer shall corrupt the Framers’ initial expression, through their enactment of laws, enforcement of those laws, or more importantly, their interpretation of those laws. And any action that debases, or cheapens, the intrinsic value of the tenet of religious tolerance that is entrenched in the Constitution cannot stand.Continue Reading

4

I’d Like a Thick Crust Large Pepperoni Pizza, Hold the Contraceptive Mandate

Tom_monaghan_pizza_toss

 

 

Add Tom Monaghan’s lawsuit against the contraceptive mandate to the list of those granted injunctive relief:

A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt on the Obama administration’s birth-control coverage policy for Tom Monaghan, the Catholic billionaire who founded Domino’s Pizza.

Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff issued the decision Sunday, less than two days before the policy would have taken effect and exposed Monaghan to fines for non-compliance.

“Plaintiff has shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion,” Zatkoff wrote.

“The government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest. … This factor weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs’ motion.” Continue Reading

3

HHS Contraception Mandate Encountering Rough Reception in Court

 

 

 

Federal Circuit Courts are granting injunctive relief to plaintiffs in suits alleging that the contaceptive mandate violates both the First Amendment free exercise clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

 

On Dec. 28, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the HHS Mandate violates this family’s religious liberty as guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Kathleen Sebelius’ mandate could be argued to violate the First Amendment as well, but if a court can resolve a case by looking to a statute, it will avoid issuing an opinion regarding constitutional issues. The Seventh Circuit has issued an injunction while the appeal in this case, Korte v. Sebelius, is pending.

In a 2-1 split decision, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit in Chicago rejected the Tenth Circuit’s conclusion in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius that the HHS Mandate does not impose a significant burden on religious freedom by forcing employers to provide insurance that covers things they regard as immoral.

The Seventh Circuit reasoned, “With respect, we think this misunderstands the substance of the claim. The religious-liberty violation at issue here inheres in the coerced coverage of contraception, abortifacients, sterilization, and related services, not—or perhaps more precisely, not only—in the later purchase or use of contraception or related services [by employees].”

The Seventh Circuit also noted that the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis recently came down on the same side of this issue in O’Brien v. U.S. Dep’t of HHS, leaving the Tenth Circuit in Denver as the minority of what is now a 2-1 split between the federal appeals courts.

This now sets the stage for a Supreme Court showdown. The justices may let this issue play out for a few more months until a couple appellate courts hand down full-length opinions exploring all these issues. By contrast, the Seventh Circuit’s action is just an eight-page order. Continue Reading

8

HHS Mandate Fight Not Going Away

One of the many dreadful results of the American people deciding to give the Southside Messiah another four years to see how much of the country he can gut, is that the struggle over the HHS mandate will not be resolved by Congress simply reversing the initiative of the Obama administration.

Lawsuits against the HHS Mandate have been meeting with some success, go here to read about injunctive relief being given to a private employer, and doubtless all of this will eventually end up before the Supreme Court.  It has been heartening to see how many non-Catholics have been standing with Catholics in this area.  For example, Tyndale House Publishers have gone to court and gotten injunctive relief.  Go here to read about it. Continue Reading

26

Why We’re Not Going Anywhere

Archdiocese launches Campaign for Religious Liberty

Let me explain, in as clear and precise terms as I can, why social conservatives are not going anywhere, nor should they go anywhere, but should remain right at the heart of the conservative movement and gain acceptance among libertarians as well, and should reject as the foolish garbage that it is all suggestions to the contrary.

First, our principles are not electoral losers. Leftists believe they are on “the right side of history”, comparing the campaign for “marriage equality” with every civil rights struggle of past eras. They believe that this fact is reflected in the way the youth vote splits and the purported reasons why. At the same time, they gloat and brag about the size of the Democratic share of the minority vote.

The merits of the “marriage equality” campaign don’t need to be discussed here. I’ve discussed them to death on this blog in previous posts. The fact remains that minorities are opposed to “marriage equality.” If Hispanics can be won over to the GOP on the immigration issue, it will put a stop to this “wrong side of history” nonsense for a generation. The uncomfortable alliance between racial minorities who hold socially conservative views and white liberals will finally be blown apart. Unlike them, when racial minorities finally do side with the GOP en masse, we won’t attribute white liberal hatred for them to “racism” (even though it sure looks like it sometimes). This is a battle of values, not skin colors, and a failure to see that is one of the reasons why the white liberal left will never win the future they mistakenly believe to be theirs.

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7

Pennsylvania Bishops Speak Out

On All Saints Day, the bishops of Pennsylania released a statement on the upcoming elections.  Here is the text:

Each year on this day the Catholic Church celebrates “All Saints Day.”  This solemnity remembers those who have fulfilled their earthly vocation and now enjoy eternal happiness in the presence of God.  These saints may be unnamed, but they certainly are not unknown.  Their lives are characterized by steadfast faith and charitable works.  They exemplify what it means to love God and love one’s neighbor.

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18

Election 2012: One Last Argument for Mitt

The election is almost upon us, and many of us have made up our minds as to whom we are going to vote for, or whether we will even bother to vote at all. On the slight chance that someone from the ever-shrinking pool of undecided voters in a critical county in a vital swing state stumbles upon this blog post, the even less likely chance that they are Catholic, and the even less likely chance that their Catholic faith informs their political conscience, I’ll make one last appeal for a GOP vote.

I say a GOP vote, and not a Romney vote, because a) the most important issue at stake in this election really only depends upon which party, not individual man, is in power, and b) many people on the fence probably aren’t very enthused about Romney the man. I’ll admit that even as someone who has made up his mind, I am still not enthused. Granted, Romney isn’t as awful as many of us imagined him to be before he took Obama to the woodshed in the first presidential debate, it still isn’t easy to joyfully rally to his banner. He lacks the consistency and commitment to principle of the enigmatic Ron Paul, a pretty old guy who manages to get thousands of  modern American 20-somethings to care about things other than themselves, which is nothing short of miraculous in its own right. Still, he has emerged as a capable enough candidate for the highest office in the land. But let’s return to the issues.

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3

Paul Ryan’s Civil Society Speech

 

 

Paul Ryan gave a major address yesterday in Cleveland.  Go here to watch it on C-Span.  In this speech he argues that the Government efforts to alleviate poverty have been a flat failure, destructive to the family and increasing government dependcy.  He points to welfare reform of the 1990s as a model of how Government can truly help to alleviate poverty by encouraging work and independence.

 

He notes that Government often abuses power as it expands its scope:

Nothing undermines the essential and honorable work these groups do quite like the abuse of government power.  Take what happened this past January, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules requiring Catholic hospitals, charities and universities to violate their deepest principles. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told – from now on you’re going to do things the government’s way.

This mandate isn’t just a threat to religious charities. It’s a threat to all those who turn to them in times of need. In the name of strengthening our safety net, this mandate and others will weaken it.

The good news? When Mitt Romney is president, this mandate will be gone, and these groups will be able to continue the good work they do.

It is a fascinating speech and indicates that Ryan has thought deeply about the role of Government in helping people escape poverty and  is willing to lead the fight to implement the reforms necessary to alter the path we are on to national bankruptcy and ever increasing poverty.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

8

Bishop Jenky: Obama’s Threat to Religious Liberty

My Bishop, Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, is a big, jovial bear-like guy.  It is hard not to like him, but I have never been prouder of him than I have been this year.  He has been one of the bishops standing up and constantly sounding the alarm posed to our religious liberty by the Obama administration.  Go here to read a speech he gave on the subject earlier this year. Continue Reading

111

NOBama 2012: A Catholic Case for Romney

Fellow Catholics,

We are approaching the most important U.S. Presidential election for us – by “us” I mean theologically orthodox, politically conservative Catholics – possibly since 1960, when the election of the first Catholic president seemed so possible and actually occurred. I’m grateful to be a contributing member of The American Catholic during this election season, which is one of the most widely-read Catholic blogs in the country. This certainly won’t be the last thing I have to say about the presidential race, but rather the first.

When the GOP primary was getting underway, I was a firm Ron Paul supporter. I knew he would not and could not win, but I supported him anyway because I agree with him on most issues, particularly on the role of our government both domestically and abroad. To support Ron Paul was to support the drastic reduction of the federal government, to reject the arrogant assumptions of technocratic management of economic and social issues from the top-down, and to place a vote of confidence in individuals, families, and local governments to solve social and moral problems. I also believe that this is the fundamental political truth of our time: a state governed by militant secularists cannot possibly effect the common good as it is understood by Christians, people of other faiths, or even those secularists who recognize the value of the natural law tradition that has informed the politics of Western civilization since the time of Plato and Aristotle. And yet if we are destined to have secularists in power, we can at least work to limit their power by limiting government as much as possible.

The corollary of the political truth stated above is that one cannot simply discuss “the role of government” in the abstract, without considering who will actually run the state and what values and assumptions they take with them as they create and execute policies with coercive force. Who exactly will be deciding issues that affect your life and mine? Who will have coercive power over you and yours?

More important than what happens to me or my family, though, is how the Church will be affected by those who rule. Even in her most humiliated and rejected state, which the sex scandals have arguably wrought, the Church is still the light of civilization. If her light is extinguished, driven underground, or forced to hide in the shadows, then it is not simply we Catholics who will suffer (though there is certainly nothing wrong with suffering for the faith), but all of society. The Church can and has survived hideous persecution, but it is not clear that society can survive what it will inevitably become without the Church, as well as all of the other religious organizations that will be affected by federal policies, actively involved in public life. Finally, whether society recognizes its debt to the Church or not is irrelevant.

It may be that God has ordained this as a time of cleansing, a time during which the Church must be forced underground and reduced to a smaller size so that she can be tempered and purified. But we cannot know such things with any certainty. What we can know with at least a little more clarity, on the other hand, is what our duties are as Catholic citizens. It is my view that our first priority is to protect the right of the Church to publicly exist. Usually this doesn’t come up because usually the U.S. government does not enact policies that threaten this public existence. But the status quo has changed, and we now face the prospect of an open, vicious anti-Catholic regime in a lame duck Obama presidency. For this reason, I feel obliged as a Catholic to work for the defeat of Obama-Biden in 2012. In practical terms, this means supporting Romeny-Ryan for the Presidency.

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25

Obama’s Psychotic Statements on the HHS Mandate

The Catholic News Agency published some remarks made by President Obama in Denver yesterday (Aug. 9) regarding the HHS contraception mandate that are so deluded and irrational that it becomes difficult to imagine how this country can possibly continue forward. We are dealing now with a level of dishonesty that is so open and aggressive that reasonable discourse, upon which social peace ultimately rests, is fast becoming impossible.

This is what Obama said about Mitt Romney’s opposition to the mandate:

“It would be up to the employer to decide. Your boss, telling you what’s best for your health, your safety,” the president said.

“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care that you get. I don’t think that insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get.”

This is Barack Obama speaking. The man whose healthcare vision is about to be foisted on the American people, in which they will be forced to buy health insurance (by politicians, from insurance companies) or face official penalties, just said that he doesn’t think politicians and insurance companies should control the care that we get.

Some statements are so at odds with reality – in this case, a reality established by Obama himself – that they can only be described as psychotic. The psychosis continues with the idea that without the HHS mandate, employers would, and indeed, have been, deciding what is best for their employee’s health. It never entered Obama’s psychotic mind that a desire not to cover what HHS mandates could, and almost always does, revolve around the employer’s desire to avoid something he finds morally objectionable, in which case it has absolutely nothing to do with dictating employee’s health. No, when a man in a position of relative power, the employer, decides what he will and will not pay for his employees to have, it is necessarily an aggressive and unjust exercise of power by the master over the subordinate in the psychotic mind of the president.

It doesn’t matter that on every corner of every major street of every town and city in the United States is a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid or local drug store that is brimming with contraceptives that are legal for anyone to purchase. It doesn’t matter that there are clinics that provide abortions and sterilizations for those who want them. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a single employer in the nation that can legally force people to work for them and thus deny them the opportunity to work for someone who is willing to offer a plan that covers such things. All of these conditions, which collectively taken together, any sane man would recognize as a condition of freedom (at least relatively) as far as health and reproductive choices are concerned, mean nothing to Obama. They mean nothing to the hordes of bleating drones who have dutifully towed the party line on this issue either.

The layers of insanity go even deeper. Obama himself has created the conditions under which businesses with 50 or more employees must eventually provide health insurance (by 2014). He has forced this responsibility onto the employers of America. He then proceeds not only to insult them with his “you didn’t build that” remarks (some potential business owners won’t be building anything thanks to Obamacare), but to prohibit them from exercising their preferences, moral or otherwise, in how they go about doing it. And yet to hear Obama speak, one might think that employers themselves demanded Obamacare just so they could have power over their employees that they didn’t have before, and that the HHS mandate had to exist for this reason. This isn’t just a false picture of reality, but a deranged one.

Finally, Obama speaks as if employers making decisions about what they will cover or not cover in their health plans is something new, as opposed to the way it has been since health plans came into existence. All this time, apparently, bosses have been dictating to workers what is best for their health by not paying for their condoms and vasectomies. Obama has now freed us from the tyranny of having to pay for certain things we want with our own money. People who view reality this way can’t be reasoned with by people who don’t.

Looking at Obama’s recent rhetoric, a phrase keeps emerging. He keeps referring to America as “one American family”, especially when there is a tragedy in the news. Some commentators are even beginning to see him as a father figure (try not to wretch if you watch the clip). There is no doubt in my mind that he seems himself as the father of the nation, laying down rules for some of his more stubborn children, insisting that they share their toys with one another. That is how he sees the businessmen of America. And as for the religious conservatives, they are the cranky old uncle who is grudgingly tolerated but also increasingly despised by the more content members of Barack’s family. In neither case is there respect for what they do or what they represent. There is no respect for them as autonomous, rational beings with their own convictions. They’re just stubborn children or senile geriatrics, they aren’t mature and rational like Obama and his friends. He isn’t even a politician, not in his own psychotic mind. He is self-excluded from that list of people who want to “control what healthcare we get.” He isn’t controlling us; knowing us better than we know ourselves, he is guiding us, in spite of ourselves. He is our father.

27

Declaring War on the Church

Well the above video from the Romney campaign removes all doubt that the HHS Mandate is going to be front and center in the fall campaign.  Obama was campaigning with Sandra Fluke yesterday, as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air details here.  Obama’s war on the Catholic Church, and his attempt to promote schism within the Church, may play a decisive role in the swing states like Ohio that will decide this election.

13

ObamaCare and Abortion

Below is an analysis of ObamaCare and abortion that I have written for the summer newsletter of the crisis pregnancy center of which I am Chairman of the Board.  Regular readers will detect a more restrained and “just the facts” presentation than I normally use in my blog posts.  I thought that the change of pace style might be of interest to our faithful readers so I did not modify the analysis for this post.  (Fear not, I will not inflict on the readers of this blog any of my professional scribblings in the law mines, which would be of utility only for readers suffering the pangs of insomnia!)

 

Now that the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote, courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts switching his vote, has upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, universally better known as ObamaCare, pro-lifers should understand what ObamaCare means in regard to abortion.

 

1.  Abortion surcharge-The Act provides that if an individual is enrolled in an insurance policy that covers elective abortions, each participant in that insurance plan must pay a separate surcharge for the elective abortion coverage.  There is no opt out provision for individuals.  So if a pro-lifer works for a business that provides such an insurance policy, the pro-life employee would have no choice but to pay the abortion surcharge.  The Act forbids insurance companies from advertising that an abortion surcharge is required under the Plan.

2.  Federal Subsidies to Insurance Plans That Provide Abortion  The Act provides for federal subsidies to health insurance plans, including plans that provide coverage for elective abortions,  set up health insurance exchanges created by the states.  The policies provided under the health insurance exchanges may include elective abortion coverage unless a state bans such coverage.  Thus far the following states have banned such coverage:   Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas,  Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

3.  ObamaCare and Abortifacients The HHS mandate  requiring “free” coverage for all contraceptive devices, see number 5 below, in virtually all health insurance plans, includes those devices and drugs thought to act as abortifacients. Continue Reading

3

Real Freedom Isn’t Something Caesar Can Give or Take Away

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops had a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

At the closing mass for the Fortnight of Freedom on July 4, 2012 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered this homily on freedom:

 

 

Philadelphia is the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the  United States Constitution were written. For more than two centuries, these  documents have inspired people around the globe. So as we begin our reflection  on today’s readings, I have the privilege of greeting everyone here today — and  every person watching or listening from a distance — in the name of the Church  of my home, the Church of Philadelphia, the cradle of our country’s liberty and  the city of our nation’s founding. May God bless and guide all of us as we  settle our hearts on the word of God.

Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once  described the Christian as “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is  going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil,  yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids. … He alone has  liberty in a world of slaves.”

Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and  clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he  wrote that a man “who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in  anything,” he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a  lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that  murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He  knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.

We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a  different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the  reason we come together in worship this afternoon. Continue Reading

6

Fortnight For Freedom Fourth of July: Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the final of these blog posts and is written by commenter Greg Mockeridge.

 

 

John Adams foresaw the all pomp with which we celebrate the 4th of July, but the date he gave for that was not the 4th but the 2nd. The reason he gave the 2nd was that independence was voted on and decided by the Continental Congress on the 2nd. What took place on the 4th was that final draft of the Declaration of Independence, after about a hundred revisions to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft, was approved.

 

It is actually more fitting that we celebrate independence on 4th as opposed to the 2nd because it isn’t merely independence we celebrate, but the ideas, principles, and truths this country was founded on. Fidelity to these very ideas really enable Americans to be Patriots as opposed to merely Nationalists. Just as one cannot be a good Catholic without a concerted effort to know and understand what it is he gives his assent of faith to, one cannot be a true American Patriot unless he likewise makes an effort to understand our heritage as Americans. No other U.S. founding document expresses these truths better than the Declaration of Independence. If more Americans became better acquainted with the Declaration, there would not be so much confusion regarding the Constitution.

 

Our Catholic faith not only does not relieve us of this patriotic duty, it actually reinforces it. An 1884 statement of the American bishops said it this way:

 

 

Teach your children to take a special interest in the history of our country. We consider the and laws as a work of special Providence, its framers “building wiser than they knew,” the Almighty’s hand guiding them….As we establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties desire therefore that the history of the United States should be carefully taught in all our Catholic schools, and have directed that it should be specially dwelt upon in the education of the young ecclesiastical students in our preparatory seminaries; so also we desire that it form a favorite part of the home library and home reading.

A document from the Second Vatican Council “Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World” better known by its Latin title Gaudium et Spes says: “Citizens should cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism… “(#75) Continue Reading

1

Fortnight for Freedom Day Thirteen: Love of Liberty

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the twelfth of these blog posts.

The fight over the HHS Mandate essentially boils down to a fight to uphold religious liberty.  Such struggles for liberty in our nation’s history are very important because they go to the very core of our nation.  Abraham Lincoln understood this, and in a speech he gave in Edwardsville, Illinois on September 11, 1858, got to the heart of the matter:

 

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, every where. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises. Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Twelve: We Have No King But Jesus

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the twelfth of these blog posts.

Prior to the American Revolution an English aristocrat related an incident in a letter.  He asked a servant who his master was, and the man responded unhesitatingly:  My Lord Jesus Christ!  The aristocrat found this hilarious, but the servant was reflecting a very old Christian view.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.  At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.

Christ the King and We have no King but Jesus remind Christians that the nations of the world and the manner in which they are ruled, and mis-ruled, while very important to us during our mortal lives, are of little importance in the next.   They also instruct us that the State can never be an ultimate end in itself, can never override the first allegiance of Christians and that the rulers of the Earth will be judged as we all will be.  Although my Irish Catholic ancestors will shudder, and my Protestant Irish and Scot ancestors may smile, there is much truth in the inscription supposedly written on the sarcophagus, destroyed or lost after the Restoration, of that “bold, bad man”, Oliver Cromwell, “Christ, not Man, is King.” Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Eleven: Catholics in the American Revolution

To obtain religious, as well as civil, liberty I entered zealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State. That hope was thus early entertained, because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals. God grant that this religious liberty may be preserved in these States, to the end of time, and that all believing in the religion of Christ may practice the leading principle of charity, the basis of every virtue.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the eleventh of these blog posts.

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

The list could go on at considerable length.  Figures on how many Catholics served in the Continental Army or the American militias is speculative as records of religious affiliations were not normally kept.  From anecdotal evidence my guess would be at least five percent of the American troops were Catholic, far in excess of the Catholic percentage of the population. Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Nine: Top Ten Movies For the Fourth of July

 Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it. 

John Adams

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the ninth of these blog posts.

 

As we are embroiled now in a struggle to preserve our religious liberty, I think the Fourth of July is a good time to recall the price made to establish our liberties.  A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution.  Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:

10.  Ben and Me  (1953)- Something for the younger patriots.  Disney put to film the novel of Robert Lawson, Ben and Me, which related how many of Ben Franklin’s bright ideas came from his mouse Amos.  Quite a bit of fun.   Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.

9.  The Crossing (2000)-A retelling of Washington’s brilliant crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the battle of Trenton.  This film would rank much higher on my list but for Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of Washington as sullen and out of sorts throughout the movie.  Washington had a temper, and he could give vent to it if provoked, although he usually kept it under control, but the peevish Washington portrayed here is simply ahistoric and mars an otherwise good recreation of the turning point of the Revolution.

8.  John Paul Jones (1959)  Robert Stack, just before he rose to fame in the Untouchables, is grand in the role of the archetypal American sea hero.  Bette Davis is absolutely unforgettable as Catherine the Great.  The climactic sea battle with the Serapis is well done, especially for those pre-CGI days.  The only problem with the film is that many of the details are wrong.  This is forgivable to a certain extent since scholarship on Jones was badly skewed by Augustus Buell in a two-volume “scholarly biography” which appeared in 1900.  Buell was a charlatan who made up many incidents about Jones and then invented sources to support his fabrications.  Buell was not completely exposed until Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard professor of history, and an Admiral in the Navy, wrote his definitive biography of Jones. Here is a list of the fabrications of Buell compiled by Morison.  Morison’s book appeared after the movie, which is to be regretted.

7.  The Patriot (2000) Finally, a film which depicts the unsung contribution of Australians to victory in the American Revolution!  Actually not too bad of a film overall.  Heath Ledger is quite good as Gibson’s oldest son who joins the Continentals at the beginning of the war against his father’s wishes.  Jason Isaacs is snarlingly good as the evil Colonel Tavington, very loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, commander of Tarleton’s Raiders during the Southern Campaign.  The film of course allows Gibson to carry on his over-the-top vendetta against all things English.  No, the British did not lock up American civilians in churches and burn them alive.  However, the ferocity of the partisan fighting in the South is well depicted, and Banastre Tarleton  at the Waxhaw Massacre earned a reputation for slaughtering men attempting to surrender.  The final battle of the film is based on the battle of Cowpens where General Daniel Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton.

6.  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)-A John Ford classic starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  Through the eyes of a young newlywed couple, Fonda and Colbert, the American Revolution on the frontier is depicted in the strategic Mohawk Valley.  Full of the usual Ford touches of heroism, humor and ordinary life. Continue Reading

2

Fortnight For Freedom Day Eight: Catholics and the Father of our Country

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the eighth of these blog posts.

America has been blessed by God in many ways but I suspect no blessing has been greater than His granting us George Washington to lead us in our struggle for independence and to be our first President.  Catholics have perhaps more reason than other Americans to keep the memory of Washington alive in our hearts.  In a time of strong prejudice against Catholics in many parts of the colonies he was free from religious bigotry as he demonstrated on November 5, 1775 when he banned the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes celebrations.

“As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

Order in Quarters, November 5, 1775

– George Washington

This stand against anti-Catholicism was not unusual for Washington.  Throughout his life Washington had Catholic friends, including John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the US.  He would sometimes attend Mass, as he did during the Constitutional Convention when he led a delegation of the Convention to attend Mass in Philadelphia as he had attended Protestant churches in that town during the Convention.  This sent a powerful signal that under the Constitution Catholics would be just as good Americans as Protestant Americans.

Washington underlined this point in response to a letter from prominent Catholics, including Charles and John Carroll, congratulating him on being elected President: Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Seven: The Freemen Have Assented

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the seventh of these blog posts.

Maryland, the Catholic colony, played an important role in early American colonial history.  Although Catholics in Maryland would eventually be stripped of many of their civil rights in Maryland by a Protestant majority until the time of the Revolution, while they were a political force they helped lay the foundations for a new nation.  One of the most remarkable documents produced during the time that Catholics ruled Maryland is The Toleration Act of 1649, one of the first legislative acts in the American colonies to establish toleration for all Christian faiths.  This was a compromise document between the Catholics and Protestants of Maryland and its text is as follows: Continue Reading

3

Fortnight For Freedom Day Six: Freedom is not a “Worship Word”

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the sixth of these blog posts.

Long time readers of this blog will not be surprised to see that I have managed to work a Star Trek episode into one of the Fortnight For Freedom posts!

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and stringent episode budgets,  the Omega Glory episode in the video clip at the beginning of this post featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too. Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Five: Why Celebrate the Fourth?

 

 

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the fifth of these blog posts.

Why do we observe Independence Day on the Fourth of July each year?  Is it merely a historical commemoration, or is it because the lightning words of the Declaration of Independence still have meaning and relevance today?  This is not a new issue.  In the debate over slavery which embroiled this nation a century and a half ago, the phrase “all men are created equal” from the Declaration was argued and fought over.  On June 26, 1857, Abraham Lincoln, in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, contended in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, that the phrase “all men are created equal” applied to blacks as well as whites:

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards, actually place all white people on an equality with one or another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator, for doing this obvious violence to the plain unmistakable language of the Declaration. I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and objects of that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal.”

Now let us hear Judge Douglas’ view of the same subject, as I find it in the printed report of his late speech. Here it is:

“No man can vindicate the character, motives and conduct of the signers of the Declaration of Independence except upon the hypothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to the African, when they declared all men to have been created equal—that they were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain—that they were entitled to the same inalienable rights, and among them were enumerated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.”

My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it—see what a mere wreck—mangled ruin—it makes of our once glorious Declaration. Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom Day 4: John Carroll, Bishop and Patriot

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church.

Pope Leo XIII on John Carroll, first Bishop in the United States

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the fourth of these blog posts.

From the beginning of our Republic, American Catholics were at the forefront of the battle to free America from British rule and to enshrine a committment to liberty in our founding documents.  The remarkable Carroll family of Maryland was at the head of this effort by American Catholics.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the Declaration of Independence.  His cousin Daniel Carroll signed both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  Daniel Carroll’s younger brother John Carroll, was the first bishop in the United States of America.

Born on January 8, 1735 in Maryland, he went abroad to study in Flanders and France, joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest in 1769.  With the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, he returned to his native Maryland as a missionary priest.  A patriot, he served on a diplomatic mission to Canada for the Continental Congress in 1776.  During the War he continued his efforts as a missionary priest, along with efforts to persuade the new states to remove disabilities from Catholics in their new state constitutions.  He was ever an advocate for religious freedom:

When men comprehend not, or refuse to admit the luminous principles on which the rights of conscience and liberty of religion depend, they are industrious to find out pretences for intolerance. If they cannot discover them in the actions, they strain to cull them out of the tenets of the religion which they wish to exclude from a free participation of equal rights. Thus this author attributes to his religion the merit of being the most favorable to freedom, and affirms that not only morality but liberty likewise must expire, if his clergy should ever be contemned or neglected: all which conveys a refined insinuation, that liberty cannot consist with, or be cherished by any other religious institution; and which therefore he would give us to understand, it is not safe to countenance in a free government.

I am anxious to guard against the impression intended by such insinuations; not merely for the sake of any one profession, but from an earnest regard to preserve inviolate for ever, in our new empire, the great principle of religious freedom. The constitutions of some of the States continue still to intrench on the sacred rights of conscience; and men who have bled, and opened their purses as freely in the cause of liberty and independence, as any other citizens, are most unjustly excluded from the advantages which they contributed to establish. But if bigotry and narrow prejudice have prevented hitherto the cure of these evils, be it the duty of every lover of peace and justice to extend them no further. Let the author who has opened this field for discussion, be aware of slyly imputing to any set of men, principles or consequences, which they disavow. He perhaps may meet with retaliation. He may be told and referred to Lord Lyttleton, as zealous a Protestant as any man of his days, for information, that the principles of non-reistence seemed the principles of that religion which we are not told is most favorable to freedom; and that its opponents had gone too far in the other extreme!

 

On June 6, 1784 he was appointed by the Pope as superior of the missions in the United States.  On November 6, 1789, he was appointed by the Pope as Bishop, after being elected to the post by American priests, a procedure previously approved by the Pope. Continue Reading

5

Fortnight For Freedom Day 3: Chester

 

Their blood flowed as freely (in proportion to their numbers) to cement the fabric of independence as that of any of their fellow-citizens: They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men, in recommending and promoting that government, from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order and civil and religious liberty.

John Carroll, first American bishop, on American Catholics in the Revolution

Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.   This fits in well with the Fortnight of Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops in resistance to encroachments by government on our religious liberty.

Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever-present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade. Continue Reading

19

Liberal Catholics and the Fortnight For Freedom

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, has the number of liberal Catholics and their reaction to the Fortnight For Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops:

Jim Naughton’s joint takes note of the US Catholic Church’s latest initiative:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Catholics throughout the country to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom,” beginning today and running through July 4, to protest the Obama administration’s health care policies.

This is how the USCCB describes Fortnight of Freedom.

The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

Here’s the obligatory bit that all stories like this are legally obligated to contain about how sharply divided the Roman Catholic Church is over this issue.

Marion McCartney, who attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., opposes the bishops’ campaign. She’s part of a group, Blessed Sacrament Families United in Faith and Action, that wrote a letter to its pastor, saying the partisan nature of the campaign is “a step too far.”

“Nobody’s religious freedom is at stake. That’s just ridiculous!” McCartney says. Is “[Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius going to come and close all the church doors? I mean, it’s just foolishness.”

Can you say “Episcopalians in Catholic drag?”  Knew you could.

Another member of that group is Jim Zogby, who has worked on human-rights issues overseas. He says the U.S. bishops were spoiling for a fight over social issues with the Obama administration.

“They declared war on the administration, and we the faithful are paying the price for it,” Zogby says. “Our religious freedom, our ability to simply go to church, worship, feel a community, feel safe in that community” has been compromised.

“We’re now being put in the middle of a partisan fight, and that’s wrong.”

It’s easy to see what’s at work here.  To liberal Catholics, as to all leftist Christians, Catholic bishops are “partisan” or “political” when they take a stand on an issue with which the left strongly disagrees(i. e., birth control and abortion).  When they back a cause the left strongly supports, the bishops are acting “pastoral” and truly Christian and doing what God called them to do and stuff.

His wife, Eileen, says Blessed Sacrament, with its mix of liberals and conservatives, has always put politics aside. Not now. At a recent parish meeting about religious freedom, people began attacking President Obama, she says, getting more and more heated.

“Until finally one person leaned forward and he said, ‘Well, I have seen cars in our parking lot with Obama stickers on them, and they are complicit in all of this.’ And I thought, ‘Well I guess I’m not welcome here, because I have an Obama sticker on my car.’ “

If you’ve got an Obama sticker on your car, lady, I have one piece of advice.  Get thee to a Eucharistic Adoration.  Can’t hurt.  Also, the sex abuse scandal.  And nuns are cool now so stop beating up nuns!! Continue Reading

2

Fortnight For Freedom Day 2: Martyrs for the Liberty of the Church

 

The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

Sir Winston Churchill

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the second of these blog posts.

June 22, is the feast day of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, the two great martyrs of the Church who died for the liberty of the Church when King Henry VIII, in order to secure a divorce, sundered the Catholic Church in England from the Catholic Church and placed this new Anglican Church under his control.  Throughout her history the Church has stood foursquare against the attempts by governments to exercised domination over her, and More and Fisher were two in a very long line of martyrs who have died fighting against such attempts.

Continue Reading

9

Surprise! George Soros Funded Group of Left-Wing Catholics Attempting to Sabotage Fortnight For Freedom

 

I am shocked, shocked to learn that Faith in Public Life, a George Soros funded group of left-wing Catholics, Protestants and Jews, is attempting to attack the Fortnight For Freedom, the campaign of our Bishops against the HHS Mandate of the Obama Administration.  Bill Donohue of The Catholic League has the goods:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments as follows:

June 21 marks the beginning of the “Fortnight for Freedom” events, the campaign for religious liberty being conducted by the nation’s bishops. Fair-minded persons may disagree with this effort, but there is something unseemly going on when those who work for a George Soros-funded group are quietly providing talking points to the media.

John Gehring is an official at Faith in Public Life, and it is his organization that lives off the bounty of the left-wing atheist billionaire, Mr. Soros. On June 7, Gehring sent a memo to his buddies in the media (a copy of which was generously leaked to me—click here) instructing them on how to handle the bishops. They should begin by questioning the prelates why the Obama “accommodation” wasn’t good enough. “You have to ask why the bishops can’t take yes for an answer,” he wrote.

Teaching them how to handle the “war on the Catholic Church,” Gehring advises, “Several bishops have used inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric that conflates a process of working through complex policy issues with a fundamental attack on the Catholic Church.” He also frets over the politicization of the religious liberty campaign, an effort made possible, he neglects to say, because of the politicization of religion by President Obama.

Not to be outdone, Gehring presses his lackeys to victimize the victim, beckoning them to ask the bishops—all of whom refuse to prostitute their principles—“Are you willing to sacrifice Catholic charities, colleges and hospitals if you don’t get your way on the contraceptive mandate?”

Finally, Gehring provides a go-to list of Catholic activists who can be counted on to subvert the bishops’ message. It’s what we would expect from a George Soros group. Continue Reading

4

We Are Catholics And We Will Be Heard

 

Bravo to The Catholic Association for the fine video above to help us kick off Fortnight For Freedom.  People don’t truly appreciate their freedom until it is threatened.  I think that is also true for many Catholics in regard to the Church.  Time to stand up.  A time for choosing is here.

27

Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the first of these blog posts.

The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.

In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word:  Freedom is not just a big word — it is the bread and the   morning and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came in boats and ships to these shores.  It has been a long journey, a hard one, a bitter one. There is sadness in being a man, but it is a proud thing, too.  Out of the suffering and the starvation, the wrong and the right, a new thing has come, a free man. When the whips of   the oppressors are broken, and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be walking and talking under a free star. Yes, we   have planted freedom here in this earth like wheat.  This is the priceless treasure that Goverment encroachments like the HHS Mandate begin to take away from us.

Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay: Continue Reading

18

Bishops, That is a Pretty Nice Tax Exemption You Have There. Wouldn’t Want Anything Bad to Happen to It.

 

 

Modern liberals are not noted for their subtlety.  Case in point is Melinda Henneberger.  A writer for the Washington Post, she is a liberal in good standing and a Catholic, a graduate from Notre Dame in 1980, who has written for the New York Times, Commonweal, a Catholic journal for those who like a dollop of incense with their leftism, and was a contributing editor for Newsweek, the magazine that is almost worth the buck its latest owner paid for it.  Henneberger is pretty ticked at the Church in regard to what she perceives as political attacks on the South Side Messiah.  Her recent column on this subject is deserving of a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:

The Catholic Church practically invented politics, so it may be asking too much to expect American bishops to steer completely clear of affairs of state.

Good, a snide start illustrates the fury with which this column was written as the good ship Obama begins to take on water.  Liberal writers are usually at their nastiest when they start to perceive that a political pasting of Biblical proportions is on the way for their team

There are times when they couldn’t if they wanted to, and they think this is one  of those times.

Ah, but you know better, don’t you Ms. Henneberger?

The upcoming “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to push back against this  administration’s health-care mandate for contraceptives, however, sounds so much  like a “Fortnight to Defeat Barack Obama” that I’ve gotten to wondering what our  prelates would have to do to cost the church its tax-exempt status. (IRS rules  are pretty clear that churches have to give up their exemption if they campaign  for or against a political candidate.)
Please, that paragraph is a bad joke.  Democrat candidates for decades have campaigned in black churches and many of those same churches are quite forthright in their political advocacy.  Think of the Reverend Wright, the man who Obama, hilariously, claims led him to Christ, and his sermons which were merely long political diatribes.  The IRS has long turned a blind eye to this type of blatant political activity.

That is not going to happen, and I’m not suggesting it should. But as a thought exercise, what would it take to provoke such a thing?

She is certainly right that it is not going to happen unless the Democrat party has a true death wish. 

If a bishop compared Obama to, I don’t know, Hitler and Stalin, would that be campaigning against him?

Oh, but wait, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria tried that already. Jenky wasn’t exactly a household name before that tirade.

We can see from the above that whatever Ms. Henneberger studied at Notre Dame, reading comprehension was not high on the list.  What Bishop Jenky actually said was:

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.

This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.

No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.

What Bishop Jenky was doing Ms. Henneberger is called issues advocacy and is perfectly permissible under IRS regulations.  Nice try however to ignore the obvious.

What if, however, the best-known bishop in the country — and among the  most likeable — said “the White House is strangling the Catholic  Church”?

No again; Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York did that, too. And Bishop Salvatore  Cordileone of Oakland said we have reason to fear “despotism” under Obama.

What Cardinal Dolan actually said:

The exemption given to the church is so strangling and so narrow and it’s also presumptuous that a bureau of the federal government is attempting to define for the church the extent of its ministry and ministers,” said Dolan on CBS’s “This Morning.”

What Bishop Cordileone actually said:

My own experience, I sort of backed into this religious liberty debate by my involvement with her Siamese twin–the definition of marriage in the law. And I got swept up in that, not exclusively, but in large degree because I was enlightened by Dr. [Robert] George and other people of his kind as to the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue. As well, the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.

When I saw what was happening my eyes were opened, it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism.”

Once again, both examples of issues advocacy. 

(Even Pope Benedict XVI has joined the fray – though the former Joseph Ratzinger is really not much of a fray-joiner. “Many of you, he told American bishops, “have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection…with regard to cooperation in instrinsically evil practices.’’ Abortion, he means. Birth control, which is barred under church teaching,  must be provided free to employees of Catholic institutions as part of their health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. Where does abortion come in? Some opponents argue that the Part B ‘morning-after pill,’ which is also provided as part of the bill, is an abortifacient, though science doesn’t support that claim.)

Ah, how Pope Benedict does set the teeth on edge of “progressive” Catholics!  Go here to read the Pope’s warning of the erosion of religious liberty in this country.  Once again, the Pope’s remarks would be considered issues advocacy.  The fact that Ms. Henneberger brings up these remarks indicates the depth of her ignorance on the subject of political activities deemed impermissible by the IRS regarding churches. Continue Reading

35

Lying Worthless Political Hack and Ex Cathedra

 

 

When the Lying Worthless Political Hack, aka Nancy Pelosi ex Speaker of the House, opens her mouth in regard to her purported faith, The Catholic Church, you know the results are going to be unintentionally hilarious:

CNSNews.com asked Pelosi, who is Catholic, whether she supported her  church in the lawsuits it has filed, which argue that the  administration’s regulation violates the freedom of religion guaranteed  by the First Amendment.

What about the 43 Catholic institutions [that] have now sued the  administration over the regulation that requires them to provide  contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients in their health care  plans?” CNSNews.com asked. “They say that violates their religious  freedom.  Do you support the Catholic Church in their lawsuits against  the administration?”

Well, I don’t think that’s the entire Catholic Church,” Pelosi  responded. “Those people have a right to sue, but I don’t think they’re  speaking ex cathedra for the Catholic Church.

“And there are people in the Catholic Church, including some of the  bishops, who have suggested that some of this may be premature,” Pelosi said.

It is unclear why Pelosi would have pointed out that when an archbishop—such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Donald  Wuerl of Washington, D.C. or Archbishop Carlson of St. Louis—sues the federal government in actions designed to protect the First Amendment rights of  American Catholics he is not speaking “ex cathedra.”

“Ex cathedra” refers to the infallible authority that Catholics believe the pope exerts when he makes a formal and solemn declaration on  matters of faith and morals. It is not a term to describe lawsuits the church files in civilian courts.

In a 1993 audience, Pope John Paul II quoted the first Vatican  Council in explaining the Catholic understanding of the “ex cathedra”  authority of the pope.

When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that  infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church  in defining a doctrine on faith and morals,” said the Vatican Council.

The Catholic teachings that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong—the basis for the suits that the archdioceses, dioceses, universities, schools and charitable organizations have brought against the Obama  administration–are in fact inalterable teachings that the church says are rooted in natural law. Continue Reading

9

Fortnight For Freedom

 

 

 

The fight over the HHS Mandate is about to come to a boil.  In June the Bishops are going to have this document inserted in Mass bulletins throughout the nation which mentions the necessity of disobeying immoral laws in certain situations.

Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified.  Every effort must be made to repeal them.  When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.

I am almost thankful to President Obama.  Due to his blind hubris, his willingness to ride roughshod over American liberties for cheap perceived political advantage, he has awakened the Church in this country from her slumber, and reminded Catholics that they are part of the Church Militant here on Earth. 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom: Continue Reading

24

Does E.J. Dionne Even Pretend to be a Catholic Anymore? (Updated)

E.J. Dionne thinks the American Bishops are just a bunch of right-wing meanies .  No, seriously.

The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by 43 Catholic organizations, including 13 dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the Obama administration that require insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health-care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: The vast majority of the nation’s 195 dioceses did not go to court.

Which Dionne takes as a signal that those dioceses do not approve of the suits.

Has Dionne ever taken even an elementary logic course?  That the other dioceses did not join the suit does not imply that they oppose the suit.  They may have chosen not to participate for any number of reasons.  For instance, newly installed Bishop Lori in Baltimore explained on EWTN just last night that the Archdiocese of Baltimore did not join the suit because it was a time of transition with him just being installed last week.  As for the other dioceses, they may not have the time and resources to join the suit.

Dionne then – hysterically – implies that the Church is being over-run by right-wing Bishops.

Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign aimed at highlighting “threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad.”

But in recent months, a series of events — among them the Vatican’s rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, encouraged by right-wing U.S. bishops — have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a “Catholic spring” to challenge the hierarchy’s shift to the right.

It’s amusing that Dionne chooses to frame the issue as a right-versus-left one, and even more amusing that he seems to be implying that the Vatican was prodded by a bunch of scheming winger-Bishops to issue its rebuke.

To his credit, Dionne does manage to find a few Bishops who are opposed to the lawsuit.*

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., broke the silence on his side Tuesday in aninterview with Kevin Clarke of the Jesuit magazine America. Blaire expressed concern that some groups “very far to the right” are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into “an anti-Obama campaign.”

“I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into [a] political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops,” he said. “I think our rhetoric has to be that of bishops of the church who are seeking to be faithful to the Gospel, that our one concern is that we make sure the church is free to carry out her mission as given to her by Christ, and that remains our focus.”

My sympathies to the Catholics in Stockton, California.  One can only imagine the sterling homilies they must hear every Sunday.

This is simply nonsense.  The Obama administration drew a very clear line in the sand.  I’m sorry to break this to Bishop Blaire, but when  a presidential administration declares open war on religion freedom, it de facto becomes a political issue.  I realize that you must be of the generation that believes that the only way to resolve anything is deep dialogue and expressions of “concern,” but sitting on your behind and just hoping that the administration will be nice to you down the line is not going to accomplish anything.

Already, there are reports that some bishops will play down or largely ignore the Fortnight for Freedom campaign, scheduled for June 21 to July 4, in their own dioceses. These bishops fear that it has become enmeshed in Republican election-year politics and see many of its chief promoters, notably Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, as too strident.

I’m so confused.  Bishop Lori himself didn’t attach himself to the lawsuit, so obviously by Dionne’s logic he must be opposed to the suit.  Does that mean that Bishop Lori believes that Bishop Lori is too strident?  The mind reels.

Again, it’s a pity that some Bishops do not have the courage to stand up and fight for religious freedom.  Like Bishop Blaire, they are of the mindset that it’s best not to cause too much trouble or kick up too much of a fuss – unless of course the issue is changing the translation of the Mass.  Then these same Bishops kick and scream and do everything in their power to fight change.  But when it comes to challenging an administration intent on curtailing their freedoms – meh, better to just hold a series of seminars and hope everything gets sorted out in the end.

Dionne then makes some hay over the phony “compromise” offered by HHS, a compromise only gullible left-leaning Catholics put any stock into.  Because at the end of the day, for people like Dionne hiking taxes on the rich is more important than minor issues such as abortion and religious freedom.

Dionne closes with this whopper:

For too long, the Catholic Church’s stance on public issues has been defined by the outspokenness of its most conservative bishops and the reticence of moderate and progressive prelates.

Yes, we all remember how all those right-wing Bishops led the charge when it came to immigration reform, or the war in Iraq, or in recent budget debates.

Signs that this might finally be changing are encouraging for the church, and for American politics.

Hey, Dionne finally says something I agree with. Of course he has now clue that the behavioral change is now quite the one he thinks is happening.

*Update:  See Donald’s comment.  In fact, even Blaire is on board with his fellow Bishops.  Sorry, EJ.

13

See You In Court Mr. Obama

 

 

 

 

By this time I rather suspect that at least some of his campaign strategists, if not President Obama, are beginning to wonder if it was such a bright idea to pick a fight with the Catholic Church in an election year.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the details on 43 lawsuits filed simultaneously around the country today attacking the HHS mandate as blatantly unconstitutional:

Today’s Roman Catholic calendar lists May 21st as the feast day of St. Christopher Magallanes, a martyr killed for celebrating Mass during the Cristero War in Mexico. Perhaps Catholics today may want to recall St. Thomas More — the patron saint of lawyers, who was executed for refusing to agree to a mandate that gave Henry VIII the prerogative of defining religious expression in England.  Dozens of Catholic institutions filed lawsuits today against the Department of Health and Human Services over its mandate and its narrow definition of religious practice:

Catholic archdioceses and institutions filed suit in federal district courts across the country Monday against the so-called contraception mandate, claiming their “fundamental rights hang in the balance.”

The plaintiffs include a host of schools and organizations, including the University of Notre Dame and the Archdiocese of New York. The lawsuits, though related, were filed individually.

The schools are objecting to the requirement from the federal health care overhaul that employers provide access to contraceptive care. The Obama administration several months back softened its position on the mandate, but some religious organizations complained the administration did not go far enough to ensure the rule would not compel them to violate their religious beliefs.

Kathryn Jean Lopez posts a brief statement from Timothy Cardinal Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the chief critics of the HHS mandate:

We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now. Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty. It’s also a great show of the diversity of the Church’s ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate – ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all. Continue Reading

3

Georgetown: the Anti-Catholic Catholic University

William Peter Blatty, well-known novelist, author of the Exorcist, a Georgetown graduate, class of 1950, is spearheading an effort to force Georgetown to reform, or to cease to call itself Catholic.  Here is his letter:

Dear Friends,

I invite you today to join me in The Father King Society to Make Georgetown Honest, Catholic, and Better by signing on to a very special effort here. I ask you also to curtail your donations to Georgetown University for one year.

The late Jesuit Father Thomas M. King was a good friend. I had the privilege of lecturing his theology class, which started the rumor that he had inspired my priestly character in The Exorcist. Father King inspired many other things; and our effort now.

On May 5, 2012, in a speech to American bishops, Pope Benedict XVI called on America’s Catholic universities to reaffirm their Catholic identity. The Pope noted the failure of many Catholic universities to comply with Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. The Pope said that preservation of a university’s Catholic identity “entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus.”

For 21 years now. Georgetown University has refused to comply with Ex corde Ecclesiaie (“From The Heart of the Church”), and, therefore, with canon law. And, it seems as if every month GU gives another scandal to the faithful! The most recent is Georgetown’s obtuse invitation to Secretary Sebelius to be a commencement speaker.

Each of these scandals is proof of Georgetown’s non-compliance with Ex corde Ecclesiae and canon law. They are each inconsistent with a Catholic identity, and we all know it. A university in solidarity with the Church would not do these prideful things that do so much harm to our communion. (You can pen a heartfelt letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington and the Holy Father offering your own experience here.)

In the months to come, The Father King Society will ask Georgetown and the Church for explanations and decisions. In 1991, in an effort led by courageous Georgetown students, my dearly missed classmate, GU Law Center Prof. Richard Alan Gordon, took the awesome step of submitting a canon law petition asking the Church to remove Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic. Then Dean of Students John J. DeGioia had authorized the funding of a pro-abortion student advocacy group. A contemporaneous secret memorandum from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities to the presidents of all Jesuit institutions showed us that Dr. DeGioia’s decision was part of a larger scheme: GU was to be the dissident leader for others to follow. Dean Gordon’s effort was provocative and drastic, but within months of the filing, Rome required Georgetown to reverse itself, and Georgetown did.

Father Tom King was actively involved and submitted an essay to be used in support of the canon law action. (We post it here.) Soon after the 1991 “GU Choice” funding, a meeting took place on campus that collected the students, teachers, alumni and parents who had reacted to the University’s scandal in diverse ways. Fr. King listened intently, and then the mild-speaking priest told us of a call the night before from his brother, also a priest. His brother had said, “Tom, you have to choose sometimes — either you fish or cut bait.” Father King told us that he had decided to fish. And now, at long last, so have I. I ask you to join us!

For almost two decades, The Cardinal Newman Society has pursued with true inspiration and devotion its unique ministry to strengthen Catholic higher education in America. CNS has agreed to help us. Likewise, the St. Joseph’s Foundation, a Texas charity that focuses on canon law, has been a source of valuable information. We appreciate the help of both apostolates.

We may choose to file a canon action again, one much larger in scale and seeking alternative forms of relief that will include, among others, that Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit be revoked or suspended for a time. We will ask for lesser relief as well. Of course, what we truly seek is for Georgetown to have the vision and courage to be Catholic but clearly the slow pastoral approach has not worked. I invite you to sign the “Mandate of Procurator” on this website so that I, and other alumni, parents, teachers and students, may represent you in this special and historic Church petition. Continue Reading

47

Archdiocese of Washington Speaks Out Against Georgetown

Msgr. Pope linked to this editorial from the Catholic Standard.  It condemns Georgetown’s decision to invite Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a commencement, and does so in unequivocal terms.  Here’s one key graph:

Founded in 1789 by John Carroll, a Jesuit priest, Georgetown University has, historically speaking, religious roots. So, too, do Harvard, Princeton and Brown. Over time, though, as has happened with these Ivy League institutions, Georgetown has undergone a secularization, due in no small part to the fact that much of its leadership and faculty find their inspiration in sources other than the Gospel and Catholic teaching. Many are quite clear that they reflect the values of the secular culture of our age. Thus the selection of Secretary Sebelius for special recognition, while disappointing, is not surprising.

And then this:

With all of the people struggling so hard to preserve freedom of religion, and with all that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said in defense of this important value, Georgetown’s choice of the architect of the radical challenge of such freedom for special recognition can only be seen as a statement of where the university stands – certainly not with the Catholic bishops.

The editorial is not mincing words.  It is plainly stating that Georgetown is, for all intents and purposes, no longer a Catholic university.  As Msgr. Pope notes, these words come from the Archdiocese’s official newspaper, and therefore had to be signed off on by the Cardinal’s senior staff.

There’s much more, and Msgr. Pope also adds his own take on the editorial.

41

Notre Dame Faculty Attacks Bishop Jenky

 

In a prior post, which may be read here, I detailed a speech by Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, my Bishop,  in which he blasted the attack of the Obama administration on religious liberty.  Bishop Jenky is a graduate of Notre Dame and was ordained as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the Catholic religious order which runs Notre Dame.  Bishop Jenky is quite fond of Notre Dame and often speaks of his days there.  He serves on the Board of Fellows of Notre Dame.  Professor Charles E. Rice, Law School Professor Emeritus at Notre Dame, details what happened at Notre Dame after Bishop Jenky’s speech:

On April 14, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., of Peoria, Illinois, delivered a courageous homily at Mass during “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith.”  Bishop Jenky said, “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings—could easily be shut down.  Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.”

Forty-nine members of the Notre Dame faculty denounced Bishop Jenky in a Letter to the  University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Richard C. Notebaert.  The Letter called on them to “definitively distance Notre Dame from Bishop Jenky’s incendiary statement.”  The signers, said the Letter, “feel” that Bishop Jenky should resign from the University’s Board of Fellows.

The faculty Letter claims that Bishop Jenky “described President Obama as ‘seem[ing] intent on following a similar path’ to Hitler and Stalin.”  They accuse Bishop Jenky of “ ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment.”  The astonishingly simplistic and defamatory character of those accusations can be appreciated only by looking at what Bishop Jenky actually said: Continue Reading

19

Remember Rome, Mr. Obama!

 

 

Hattip to Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report.   A fiery speech delivered by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of the Saint Louis Archdiocese at the Missouri State Capitol on March 27, 2012, calling for defiance of the HHS Mandate, and a superb ringing defense of religious liberty:

 

So Jesus said to them: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21/Mk 12:17/Lk 20:25)

My brothers and sisters, we stand here today because of an alarming and serious matter that strikes at our fundamental right to religious freedom. The federal government – which was formed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith, but we will be required to deny it in practice. We are here to let the government know that we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!

In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers — including Catholic employers – would be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

 Recognizing this as a grave threat to religious liberty, many people spoke out against the Mandate.

In response to this reaction, President Obama’s Administration announced a so-called “compromise” in early February. Now, instead of the Catholic Church being required to pay for contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs, the insurance companies will be required to provide those services free of charge.

We need to say loud and clear: Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. If the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another –that’s how the economy works! Continue Reading

24

Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

 

May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

                                                           Bishop Daniel Jenky

 

 

My bishop, Daniel Jenky, of the Peoria Diocese, speaks truth about Caesar on April 14 of this year:

There is only one basic reason why Christianity exists and that is the fact that Jesus Christ truly rose from the grave.

The disciples never expected the resurrection. The unanimous testimony of all four Gospels is that the terrible death of Jesus on the cross entirely dashed all their hopes about Jesus and about his message. He was dead, and that was the end of it. They looked for nothing more, and they expected nothing more.

So as much as they had loved him, in their eyes Jesus was a failed messiah. His dying seemed to entirely rob both his teaching and even his miracles of any lasting significance.

And they were clearly terrified that his awful fate, at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans, could easily become their awful fate. So they hid, trembling with terror, behind shuttered windows and locked doors.

When the Risen Christ suddenly appeared in their midst, their reaction was shocked incredulity. They simply could not believe their own eyes.

Reality only very slowly began to penetrate their consciousness when Jesus offers proof of his resurrection. He shows them the wounds on his hands, his feet, and his side. Jesus even allowed them to touch him. He breaks bread with them and eats with them. And only then could they admit to themselves what had seemed absolutely impossible – the one who had truly died had truly risen! The Crucified now stood before them as their Risen, glorious, triumphant Lord.

His rising from the grave was every bit as real as his dying on the cross. The resurrection was the manifest proof of the invincible power of Almighty God. The inescapable fact of the resurrection confirmed every word Jesus had ever spoken and every work Jesus had ever done.

The Gospel was the truth. Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was the very Son of God.

There is no other explanation for Christianity. It should have died out and entirely disappeared when Christ died and was buried, except for the fact that Christ was truly risen, and that during the 40 days before his Ascension, he interacted with his Apostles and disciples, and on one occasion even with hundreds of his followers.

Today’s appointed Gospel reading for this Saturday in the Octave of Easter is taken from the 16th Chapter of Mark. It concludes with a command from the lips of Jesus, given to his disciples, given to the whole Church, given to you and me assembled here today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

We heard in today’s Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles that the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus was amazed at the boldness of Peter and John. Perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they recognized them as companions of Jesus. They warned them never again to teach, or speak to anyone, in the name of Jesus.

But the elders and the scribes might as well have tried to turn back the tide, or hold back an avalanche. Peter and John had seen the Risen Christ with their own eyes. Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit. They asked whether it is right “in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

And Peter and John and all the Apostles, starting first in Jerusalem in Judea and Galilee and then to the very ends of the earth, announced the Resurrection and the Good News to everyone they encountered.

According to the clear testimony of the Scriptures, these Apostles had once been rather ordinary men – like you and me. Their faith hadn’t always been strong. They made mistakes. They committed sins. They were often afraid and confused.

But meeting the Risen Lord had changed everything about these first disciples, and knowing the Risen Lord should also change everything about us.

You know, it has never been easy to be a Christian and it’s not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you.

But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God’s one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.

The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.

And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate. Continue Reading

14

Our Most Cherished Freedom

Judging from this statement on religious liberty issued yesterday, the Bishops understand that the stakes are very high indeed this year:

 

A Statement on Religious Liberty

 

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.   Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations.   In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, was made the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome to receive the red hat. Speaking of the great progress the Catholic Church had made in the United States, he attributed it to the “civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic.” Indeed, he made a bolder claim, namely that “in the genial atmosphere of liberty [the Church] blossoms like a rose.”1   From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience. It is among the proudest boasts of the Church on these shores. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.   We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.   This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops:  

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.   Continue Reading

22

140 Rallies Around Country Against HHS Mandate

 

We will need a lot more of this before we prevail in this struggle to preserve religious liberty:

The Coalition to Stop the HHS Mandate, which is being coordinated by the Illinois-based Pro-Life Action League; and includes multiple pro-life, social conservative, and religious groups, including Human Life International, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Alliance Defense Fund, and Priests for Life; have organized the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rallies “in defense of religious freedom and STAND UP against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate at federal building in cities across the country. Continue Reading

22

Sandra Fluke and Walmart

 

Sandra Fluke professes not to have known that birth control pills  for $9.00 for  a month’s supply are available within easy walking distance of Georgetown.  I believe her.  I doubt if Sandra Fluke would ever do anything as declasse as shop at a Walmart.  That is for the hoi polloi.  Sandra’s life as a struggling law student includes trips to Europe, presumably paid for by her mega-rich boy friend. Continue Reading

21

For Greater Glory: Viva Christo Rey!

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  I have been waiting for this movie for over a year and now it is finally being released on June 1, 2012.  For Greater Glory (formerly entitled Cristiada).  The must see movie for 2012 for all American Catholics and all of our fellow Americans who cherish religious liberty.  At a time when the Obama administration is firing the opening shots in a struggle against the religious freedom of Catholics, and exploiting a de facto schism within the Church in America to accomplish their ends, a film is being released this election year detailing the struggle of Mexican Catholics in the last century against a bitterly anti-Catholic regime.  Most of the time in life coincidences are merely coincidences, but sometimes I suspect they are sent by God for His purposes.  In any case it appears to be a worthy movie to retell the heroic story of Mexican Catholics and their fight for the Church and freedom.

The story of the Cristeros is the tale of the attempt by the Mexican government to crush the Catholic Church.  Mexico had a long history of anti-clerical political movements prior to the revolution of 1910.  However, the Mexican Revolution brought to the fore radical elements that pushed through the Constitution of 1917 with its anti-clerical articles 3, 5, 27 and 130.  In his encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, the first of three encyclicals he wrote condemning the persecution of the Church in Mexico, Pius XI described the war against the Church waged by the Mexican government: Continue Reading

37

The Church in America: Low Grade Civil War

 

,

 

Dale Price over at Dyspeptic Mutterings is being brilliant again:

 

Fr. Thomas Massaro would like you all to calm down.
I’m not going to fisk this, because it’s an admirable sentiment, as far as it goes. Which means it stagged a step or two before dropping in a messy heap.
Yes, it would be nice if things in the world were more civil and respectful. That’s fine.
But the problem with his call for civility is that he sees the white-hot anger as the problem rather than the symptom. It’s not–the real problem goes far, far deeper than that, and has been savaging the Body of Christ for decades now.
The HHS mandate is just the catalyst causing it to explode to the surface.
The real problem is that the Church in America has fractured into at least two churches. If it hadn’t been this issue, it would have been a dispute over the language of the liturgy, or the latest pronouncement from the Vatican, some university conferring honors on someone who is an open enemy of Catholic teaching or even the renovation of the local cathedral church. The struggle–more bluntly, low-grade civil war–between the churches has been going on since the last bit of incense dispersed at Vatican II. We don’t agree on how to worship, what our schools should teach, what laws should be enacted/opposed, what canons apply and when or even what our parish church should look like. In fact, we can’t even agree on whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.
And for forty five years, our shepherds have been trying to keep it together by careful tacking, including soothing rhetoric, trying to give everyone half a loaf or so (depending on the year, bishop and constituency) and generally trying not to see the coal pile in the ballroom. Continue Reading

28

An American Issue

Note how the Bishops in the above video indicate what a unique threat to the Catholic Church in America the Obama administration poses.  They recognize that the goal of the current administration is to strip the Bishops, through fostering a de facto schism in the Church, of their ability to stand in the way of this administration.  This is all very unprecedented in American history and all very dangerous to our concept of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.  The Administrative Committee of the USCCB set out what is at stake well on March 14th:

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day. In our role as Bishops, we approach this question prayerfully and as pastors—concerned not only with the protection of the Church’s own institutions, but with the care of the souls of the individual faithful, and with the common good.

To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of “A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.

One particular religious freedom issue demands our immediate attention: the now-finalized rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would force virtually all private health plans nationwide to provide coverage of sterilization and contraception—including abortifacient drugs—subject to an exemption for “religious employers” that is arbitrarily narrow, and to an unspecified and dubious future “accommodation” for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

We begin,  first, with thanks to all who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate: to our brother bishops; to our clergy and religious; to our Catholic faithful; to the wonderful array of Catholic groups and institutions that enliven our civil society; to our ecumenical and interfaith allies; to women and men of all religions (or none at all); to legal scholars; and to civic leaders. It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate. With your continued help, we will not be divided, and we will continue forward as one.

Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue. Continue Reading