Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

Friday, January 20, AD 2012

 

Pope Benedict, judging from this address on January 19 to American bishops in Rome, apparently understands the high stakes in the outcome of this year’s election, even if many American Catholics do not:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

  • Quite timely, given the Administration’s offering of the tall finger of fellowship on conscience protections today.

  • “For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man [or woman] to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his [or her] spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1st Corinthians 5:3-5

    It is now time for the Bishops to act consistent and in synchronicity with St. Paul’s instructions with respect to Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and all the rest of the liberal Catholycs who have exchanged the truth and mercy of God’s only begotten Son for the convenience of childlessness by murder and the fleeting pleasure of homosexual filth.

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  • The American atheist, in denying other citizens’ Creator endowed unalienable rights, forfeits his own unalienable rights and has no legal standing in a court of law and must be prevented from removing other civil liberties and freedoms set forth in our founding principles: The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The atheist may choose to be an atheist for himself, but the atheist may not choose atheism for me or any other human being endowed with unalienable rights to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, our destiny as a person, as a citizen, as a people, and as a nation. Government of the people, for the people and by the people will have none of the chicanery going on in Washington: abortion is human sacrifice offered to the devil and the establishment of a religion. sue HHS. In cases of rape, the innocent victim is put to death for the crimes of his parents, JUSTICE? Fornication is the second form of religion to the devil. Lies, perjury, perversion. God created man in FREEDOM. NINCOMPOOPS, IMBECILES, IDIOTS, MORONS, MISCREANTS, THE HIERARCHY OF POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON, EXCEPT CHRISTOPHER HENRY SMITH R. NJ. I feel bad Chris Smith has not be drafted for president. He’d be real good at it. And thank you for letting me sound off.

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  • I love Pope Benedict’s way with words in how he both teaches and cares about us :

    – the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation –
    – countering cultural currents which seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth –
    – a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience –

    Our marching orders and perfect prayer intention for USA in:

    – a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics –

    ” … or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God.”

    “With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth.”

    “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.”

    “There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.”

  • @PM: Pope Benedict XVI’s words bear repeating. Thank you.

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President Obama Mocks U.S. Catholic Bishops: “Darn Tooting!”

Wednesday, October 5, AD 2011

President Obama mocked Catholic bishops at a St. Louis fundraiser last night as he was touting the new Health & Human Services regulations that would require Catholic institutions to go against the teachings of Jesus.

“Darn right!” an audience member at the fundraiser shouted as Obama described the regulation.

“Darn tooting!” Obama said back.

The contempt that President Obama has shown towards Christians is almost palpable.

This is a man that worships himself on Sundays by lifting weights instead of attending a Church service.

It is becoming imperative that President Obama needs to be voted out of office next year due to this incident and many other policies that he has implemented.

 

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19 Responses to President Obama Mocks U.S. Catholic Bishops: “Darn Tooting!”

  • “Darn tooting” is mockery? Maybe I’m too young to understand the 70’s lingo. Looks like you’re typical run-of-the-mill policy disagreement to me.

  • He needs to go out because of his policies. That he’s an ass is a secondary reason that would make his early dismissal more satisfying.

  • RR,

    Affirming a “shout-out” at violating religious freedom is mocking the bishops.

  • “Affirming a ‘shout out’ at violating religious freedom is mocking the bishops.”

    Well, let’s take a look at these remarks in context. This is what the linked-to story actually said:

    *****

    “Insurance companies can’t drop your coverage for no good reason,” said Obama. “They won’t be able to deny your coverage because of preexisting conditions. Think about what that means for families all across America. Think about what it means for women.”

    “At that point, an audience member shouted: “Birth control.”

    “Absolutely. You’re stealing my line,” said Obama.

    “Breast cancer, cervical cancer, are no longer preexisting conditions,” Obama continued. “No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth.”

    At this point, a member of a laughing audience shouted out: “Darn right!”

    “Darn tooting,” Obama answered back—to laughter. “They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs.”

    ****

    When Obama says “they” won’t be able to deny coverage, he obviously is talking about insurance companies (a favorite bete noire of the left), NOT bishops.

    As far as I know, no Catholic institution has ever objected on moral grounds to covering genuine preventive health care such as mammograms. Nor is refusal to cover preexisting conditions a hallmark of Catholic medical ethics. All of these practices have, however, been common among health insurance companies (because of the very nature of insurance, which is based on minimizing risk to the insurance provider; from a purely economic point of view, covering a preexisting condition makes as much sense as selling someone fire insurance AFTER their house has burned down, but I digress.)

    In any event, it is certainly fair to say that this exchange indicates the depth of Obama’s committment to passing these regulations. It may also be fair to say that these remarks indicate a lack of concern about the violation of religious freedom involved.

    However, to characterize this as a direct “mockery” of the bishops is stretching things quite a bit.

  • Obama is playing to his core constituency, the something for nothing crowd. These are the same people of course railing against the cost of health insurance premiums and never making the connection between government mandates on insurers and the cost of the insurance. We shall see next year how many people still believe in the illusions of unicorns, pixie dust and better living through government fiat.

  • The contempt that President Obama has shown towards Christians is almost palpable.

    -Tito Edwards

    Meanwhile, from the pulpits in the diocese in which I live – from the out-of-town parishes to the downtown cathedral – silence remains the Church’s most-used method to communicate basic Christian moral teaching to the laity.

    Obama is playing to his core constituency, the something for nothing crowd. … We shall see next year how many people still believe in the illusions of unicorns, pixie dust and better living through government fiat.

    -Donald R. McClarey

    Obama isn’t playing, he’s prepping the battlespace.

    Much of the agenda of Obama and his core constituency is contrary to Christian morality. For example, there’s no practical difference in this life between desiring “something for nothing” and coveting thy neighbor’s goods. (I’ll leave drawing the connection between other elements of the Obama agenda and the commandments against coveting thy neighbor’s wife and adultery as an exercise for the reader.) Because the Church might be an impediment to Obama’s ambitions, it must be destroyed – or at least rendered impotent to influence voters by mockery.

    Exit question: Does silence from the pulpits imply the Church’s consent?

  • I could care less if Obama is “mocking bishops.” As a Catholic for 78 years, living in the diocese of Boston (

    Who could care less if “Obama is mocking Bishops?” Living under Bernard Law, in the Boston archdiocese, who could fault Obama’s perceived derision of the Bishops. But his “darn-tooting” repudiation of Catholic befiefs, tradition, and teaching is totally something else again. It lells all people (Catholics among them) that he doesn’t give a fig for anything but a responsive applause from his captive telepromter/audience. Well, I got news for Barry — you crossed a line too far — with anyone who thinks that for a few yuks you can endanger the health and welfare of all those that rely on the charity and compassion of Catholic Hospitals, Catholic adoption agencies, so that you can promulgate exactly what?
    You’ve totatally alienated any reflective Catholic, or perhaps anyone who is concerned about the role “the State” plays in preaching/preening to the Churches (and Mosques and Synagogues) about the concerns you have for anyone.
    By the way, run this past Axelgrease and Poofle.
    They, like you, are history.

  • “It is becoming imperative that President Obama needs to be voted out of office next year due to this incident and many other policies that he has implemented.”

    “…[B]ecoming imperative”? Did you just wake up, sir?

  • Edward,

    I should have said, “becoming more imperative.”

  • Elaine,

    I respectfully disagree with your incorrect analysis.

  • Tito,

    Can give reasons as to why her analysis is in incorrect?

  • Whoops, added an extra “in” there

  • I wouldn’t agree with every word Elaine wrote, but she’s right that this headline is unfair. The President wasn’t talking to or about Catholic Bishops; he was talking about a policy they disagree with. We need to distinguish between political disagreements and personal attacks.

  • The insurance mandate forces Catholic institutions in providing contraceptives in which Archbishop Dolan was telling President Obama that this is unacceptable. Hence when the audience member shouted “darn right” he was saying ‘hell yeah, we’ll make Catholic institutions’ provide contraceptives, which President Obama affirmed with a “darn tooting”.

    It’s all there in the post.

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  • “In any event, it is certainly fair to say that this exchange indicates the depth of Obama’s committment to passing these regulations. It may also be fair to say that these remarks indicate a lack of concern about the violation of religious freedom involved.

    However, to characterize this as a direct “mockery” of the bishops is stretching things quite a bit.”

    Exactly.

  • Tito – No. When the guy in the crowd said “darn right”, he was saying “darn right”, and also disagreeing with the bishops’ position, although he might not be aware of it.

    If Archbishop Dolan were standing right next to him and had been stating the argument, then the President said the argument was stupid, then the guy in the audience said “darn right”, then yes, that would be a mocking of the bishops’ position.

    If Obama said “the bishops are jerks” and the guy in the audicence said “darn right”, then he would have been mocking the bishops.

  • Pinky, RR, et al,

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    I see mockery, you all see roses and posies.

  • “Hence when the audience member shouted “darn right” he was saying ‘hell yeah, we’ll make Catholic institutions’ provide contraceptives”

    How do you know what that audience member was “really” saying, unless you can read that person’s mind?

    My guess, which I admit is only a guess, is that he/she probably wasn’t thinking about Catholic institutions or bishops at all — the person was thinking about the alleged greed and heartlessness of insurance companies who deny coverage for preexisting conditions and for preventive care.

    The person in the audience obviously assumed that birth control qualifies as preventive care. While that could mean he/she actively rejects or despises Church teaching regarding contraception, it could just as easily mean that this person is not Catholic and has never had reason to think about or care what the Church teaches regarding contraception.

    That doesn’t mean I’m seeing “all roses and posies” here or trying to defend the policy in question. What I take away from this exchange is not that Obama “mocked” the bishops but that he ignored them — which is some ways is worse than mockery.

Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Wednesday, July 14, AD 2010

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?”

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10 Responses to Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Vatican Weighs in On Middle East Christian Crisis

Tuesday, June 8, AD 2010

The Vatican  released a working paper during Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Cyprus to prepare the way for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome. What I take away from this- along with the Holy See’s call for lifting the blockade of Gaza- is something of a vindication for my more raw views urging for a sea change in American Catholic opinion and action regarding the overall situation in the Middle East, and in Israel-Palestine in particular.

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14 Responses to Vatican Weighs in On Middle East Christian Crisis

  • We really need to get even-handed if we even want to have credibility in the larger Arab world- something the polls indicate we are sorely lacking- to be it mildly.-Tim Shipe

    “Even-handed” in relation to the Arab world of progrom-states and their target is… what, exactly?

    Hamas and extremist Jewish settler movements…

    Conjoining those two categories leads one into a muddle. Let’s have a look at how many missiles, homicide bombers, etc. the two groups, normal Hamas supporters and ‘extremist’ Jewish settlers, have used to terrorize their neighbors.

  • Bravo. There won’t be peace in the Middle East until Americans, including Catholics, stop spoiling Israel and start treating it like we treat every other nation.

    I think this is the one area of Obama’s presidency where I think Obama has been more positive than negative-though he still does too little.

    Conjoining those two categories leads one into a muddle. Let’s have a look at how many missiles, homicide bombers, etc. the two groups, normal Hamas supporters and ‘extremist’ Jewish settlers, have used to terrorize their neighbors.

    The settlers have no need of such tactics since they’re supported by the Israeli military. If they need force, they don’t strap on a bomb; they have the planes drop a bomb instead. It is unquestionable that settlers, at the behest of the government, have continued to expand and continued to take Palestinian land. This is clearly not a motive of peace but one of a desire to usurp and it ought to be opposed.

  • “The settlers have no need of such tactics since they’re supported by the Israeli military.”

    The body count would seem to indicate that the Israeli military then is doing a poor job. From 2000-2008 I believe 45 Palestinians have been killed at the hands of Settlers while 238 Settlers have been killed at the hands of Palestinians. In regard to umbrage at the Settlers, I am a bit puzzled. I have heard some people here at AC condemn Arizona’s law against Mexican illegal aliens as Nazi-like. Perhaps any moral difficulty with the Israeli Settlers could be cured if we simply consider them to be illegal aliens on the West Bank?

    Of course I believe the preferred term would be undocumented immigrants. Someone else on the net has already taken the Israeli Settlers as undocumented immigrants concept and ran with it:

    http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=12393

  • Tim, the political leadership in the West Bank, Gaza, and the camps want no settlement that is not constructed on the ruins of the Jewish state. Deal with it, please.

  • The body count would seem to indicate that the Israeli military then is doing a poor job. From 2000-2008 I believe 45 Palestinians have been killed at the hands of Settlers while 238 Settlers have been killed at the hands of Palestinians.

    Don:

    Here is an opposing view which objects to the stats you and your favorite paper, the NYT, toss about.

    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/nyt-report.html

    Statistics are like “you know whats”. Everybody has one.

  • Art Deco – I agree with your post whole-heartedly.

    The Pope is wrong here. Israel can give up its blockade after he sends the Swiss Guard home. Before this flotilla stunt, did anyone know that Gaza was being blockaded? A response like this from the Holy See indicates that the stunt has worked.

    The Jews have built a beautiful, thriving country in the desert within the span a 50 years. A feat the Arabs have not managed to do in their own countries for centuries. This whole thing is about envy.

    Arab Christians are being routed by whom exactly? This is not a difficult question to answer.

  • Fuji, your calling the New York Times my favorite newspaper is almost as humorous as your citing If Americans Knew, an organization which is bitterly hostile to Israel. Paul Findley is on its board. Findley was the pro-abort and pro-PlO Republican Congressman from Springfield in my state of Illinois. Thanks to my efforts, along with the efforts of many others, he became an ex-Congressman in 1982.

    I would as soon accept a press release from Hamas as a credible source, as I would anything put out by If Americans Knew.

  • The ADL has some interesting information linked below on Alison Weir who runs If Americans Knew.

    http://www.adl.org/Israel/anti_israel/alison_weir/anti-Semitism.asp?m_flipmode=3

  • Fuji,

    You’ve completely misunderstood the purpose of the If Americans Knew “study” — it doesn’t deal at all with whether the statistics which the NY Times publishes about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are accurate, it deals with how often deaths on each side are mentioned in the headline or the first paragraph of an article. Its claim is not that the NY Times presents false information, but that it talks more about the deaths of some people than those of others.

    An example of this would be, if one news story said, “A Hamas suicide bomber blew himself up in a shopping center, killing three Israeli adults and two children.” and then the next day another story began, “The Israeli defense minister promised to take ‘strong action’ in retaliation for the attack Monday which killed five Israelis, including two children, at a crowded shopping center,” this ‘study’ would consider that to be reporting 200% of the number of Israeli dead, since they were mentioned in two separate stories.

    Nor is the statistic that Palestinians kill more Settlers than Settlers kill Palestinians inconsistent with the fact that overall far more Palestinians have died in the conflict than Israelis, since obviously not all Israelis are settlers and not all Palestinians killed (indeed, very few) are killed by settlers.

  • You can take your rose-colored spectacles off when viewing Israel and still conclude that Hamas and other Islamofascist groups are evil. Not blindly supporting Israel is not a tacit approval of all things Arab and/or Muslim.

    In regards to this so-called peace flotilla – it is obvious that it was a false flag operation designed to denigrate Israel and it is working. In regards to Israel – they are a far better friend than Arab/Muslim states – but they are not a very good friend.

    Israel has a right to exist and to defend herself and I would argue to occupy territories the UN and the British gave to Egypt and Jordan for her defense. Who constantly gets screwed as Muslims and Arabs use the Palestinian Arabs as a tool to beat the West with? Not Israel – the Palestinian Arabs do. The people, especially the children and most especially the Christians suffer at the hands of so-called Palestinian leadership, a secular Jewish state that engages in horrible behavior and the UN and other Arab states.

    Now that we have allowed the Isalmofascists to indoctrinate generations it is practically impossible to work for peace and no one wants it anyway – no one save for possibly the Pope and the poor Christians who live in the Holy Land.

    Can peace be brokered – we can hope – but it is doubtful until the King returns. Muslims specifically never enter a permanent peace with anyone in Dar Al Harb (the House of War). They certainly won’t enter a permanent peace with Jews – Mohammad practically built his religiology on capture of booty, imperialism and slaughter of Jews. Not to mention copious copies of the Torah and Nestorian heresies.

    Strategically speaking, the USA would be fools to turn our backs on Israel – but having blind support for her is just as foolish. I don’t necessarily fault Israelis for their bad behavior, historically speaking – they were coming from a very frightening place and fear makes you do stupid things – they are nevertheless, still responsible but that does not absolve the British for solving their Jewish-problem with better PR than the Nazis. Instead of killing the Jews, the British shipped them out of England to their own homeland – neglecting to tell them they promised the same land to the Arabs that had lived there since the 7th century.

    What did they think was going to happen? Had a different and more balanced solution been developed between 1917 and 1947 – the current mess could have been avoided. I doubt that is what those who want a weak and unstable mid-East wanted. Lebanon and Palestine had the best chance for Christianizing the rest of the Arab and Muslim lands – however, just like the Crusader Kingdoms – the West dropped the ball on supporting them and the price is war and the shrinking of the Christian population and the ascendancy of Islam. Make no mistake – Islam is an imperial totalitarian ideology and will align with the subversive Left in the West to gain entry and then turn on their tolerant, peace-loving, pot-smoking friends.

    If anyone can broker an honest peace in the Middle-East it would be the Pope, but he may need American guns.

  • How would the gallant Turkish (NATO member) army/navy respond to the following? A bunch of Armenian-Americans (two Israeli humanitarian groups already are planning such) get up a couple tons of humanitarian aid and stage a huge guerrilla theater propaganda extravaganza of bringing it to the six Armenians not yet murdered in Turkey. Or better analogy, do it for the Kurds fighting for their independence.

    Hamas, Hizbollah, etc. will end the terror war against Israeli civilians, women and children (and the Arab women and children they use as human shields) when the last Israeli is either murdered or driven into the sea.

    The Pope ought to denounce the Holy See bureaucRAT that came up with this hateful paper.

  • I don’t think you can figure out the justice of a conflict simply by counting up bodies. However, it is a fact that far more Palestinians than Israelis have died in the conflict.

  • I’ll take the Vatican seriously on matters concerning the Middle East, if they would express themselves in the same forthright manner on other wars and conflicts that plague the globe, in particular those that concern Catholics and Christians. The Catholic Church’s hollowness in these matters could be seen most clearly at work in early 2009. In December of 2008 the Israelis invaded Gaza to put an end to the constant rocket barrage, and my how the Catholic press and heirarchy waxed eloquent, counterpoising each other with elavated talk about ‘just war’, ‘human rights’ and the rest of it, not stinting to blame the Israelis by name for all manner of wrongs real and imagined. The bishop here in Singapore (where I live) got on the bandwagon and launched an appeal for Gaza.

    Three months later, in March the Sri Lankans launched their final push into Jaffna, when the dust settled more than 20,000 civilians were dead. Given the proportion of Catholics in Jaffna, it is reasonable to surmise that the number of Catholic dead alone exceeded the total death toll in Gaza. Yet where was the Vatican in all this? Why was no appeal launched for them? Does the criteria of ‘just war’ not apply to the darker nations? Apart from generalised handwringing, nothing much was heard from our Vatican friends. No one tagged the Sri Lankan army with brutality. Their reticence doubtless owed much to the restraining hand of Msgr Malcolm Ranjith, himself a Ceylonese and thus in a position to know that the government would take out any displeasure on the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.

    This in essence is the well established pattern of Vatican hypocrisy; when it comes to Israel, break out the tomes on jus ad bellum and set them terms that no nation in history has been able to follow, and thereby not incidentally burnish the Vatican’s own street cred with the Muslims at the expense of Jews. On the other hand, when it comes to countless attacks against Christians, from Nigeria to Pakistan to Indonesia, put out a pro forma declaration hoping that the problem goes away.

  • An aside. But perhaps an example of how diplomacy doesn’t work, or at least works poorly:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/08/AR2010060805406.html