Michael Gaynor
Catholic leaders must defend religious liberty strongly, not subtly
By Michael Gaynor
December 1, 2012

The Obama Administration is violating religious liberty. The Catholic bishops of the United States need not be violent, but they should be bold instead of bashful, clear instead of circumspect, strong instead of subtle and Christ-like instead of cringing before secular authority.

It took CNA/EWTN News more than a week to post this report:

"South Bend, Ind., Nov 12, 2012 / 07:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano has told the University of Notre Dame that there is a concrete 'menace' to religious liberty in the U.S. that is advancing in part because some influential Catholic public figures and university professors are allied with those opposed to Church teaching.

"'Evidence is emerging which demonstrates that the threat to religious freedom is not solely a concern for non-democratic and totalitarian regimes,' he said. 'Unfortunately it is surfacing with greater regularity in what many consider the great democracies of the world.'

"The apostolic nuncio, who serves as the Pope's diplomatic representative to the U.S., said this is a 'tragedy' for both the believer and for democratic society.

"Archbishop Vigano's Nov. 4 speech keynoted the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Church Life conference. He discussed martyrdom, persecution, and religious freedom, with a particular focus on the United States.

"He cited Catholics' duties to be disciples of Christ, not elements of a political or secular ideology. He lamented the fact that many Catholics are publicly supporting 'a major political party' that has 'intrinsic evils among its basic principles.'

"'There is a divisive strategy at work here, an intentional dividing of the Church; through this strategy, the body of the Church is weakened, and thus the Church can be more easily persecuted,' the nuncio said.

"Archbishop Vigano observed that some influential Catholic public officials and university professors are allied with forces opposed to the Church's fundamental moral teachings on 'critical issues' like abortion, population control, the redefinition of marriage, embryonic stem cell research and 'problematic adoptions.'

"He said it is a 'grave and major problem' when self-professed Catholic faculty at Catholic institutions are the sources of teachings that conflict with Church teaching on important policy issues rather than defend it.

"While Archbishop Vigano noted that most Americans believe they are 'essentially a religious people' and still give some importance to religion, he also saw reasons this could change.

"He said that the problem of persecution begins with 'reluctance to accept the public role of religion,' especially where protecting religious freedom 'involves beliefs that the powerful of the political society do not share.'

"The nuncio said it is 'essential' to pray for a just resolution to religious freedom controversies, including the controversy over the new federal mandate requiring many Catholic employers to provide morally objectionable insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

"The issues that the Catholic bishops have identified in this mandate are 'very real' and 'pose grave threats to the vitality of Catholicism in the United States,' Archbishop Vigano said.

"The nuncio also discussed other religious liberty threats.

"He cited a Massachusetts public school curriculum that required young students to take courses that presented same-sex relations as 'natural and wholesome.' Civil authorities rejected parents' requests for a procedure to exempt their children from the 'morally unacceptable' classes.

"'If these children were to remain in public schools, they had to participate in the indoctrination of what the public schools thought was proper for young children,' the archbishop said. 'Put simply, religious freedom was forcefully pushed aside once again.'

"Catholic Charities agencies have also been kicked out of social service programs because they would not institute policies or practices that violate 'fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith.'

"Archbishop Vigano cited several countries that have witnessed severe persecution like China, Pakistan, India and the Middle East. He praised the martyrs past and present who would not compromise on 'the principles of faith.'

"While some forms of persecution are violent and cruel, others aim to incapacitate the faith by encouraging people to renounce their beliefs or the public aspects of their faith, in the face of 'great hardships.'

"Fidelity to God and the Church has 'hastened martyrdom and persecution for many believers of the past, and of today,' he said.

"'In all of these instances, we see that the faithful persist in their fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Holy Church! For throughout her history, the Church has gained strength when persecuted,' the archbishop said.

"Religious liberty is a human, civil and natural right that is not conferred by the state, he said, adding 'religious freedom is the exercise of fidelity to God and his Holy Church without compromise.'

"'What God has given, the servant state does not have the competence to remove,' Archbishop Vigano affirmed."

I believe that a miniscule number of voters were aware of Archbishop Vicano's address by Election Day 2012.

His address should have been read aloud at Mass and included in the weekly Church bulletins long before Election Day 2012.

Instead CNA/EWTN News reported on the address AFTER Election Day 2012.

The most recent column of Father William Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan, focused on the remarks of the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States obviously relating to the Obama Administration's War on Religious Liberty, a war that predictably followed the failure of church officials to deal properly with pro-abortion politicians posing a faithful Catholics.

Father Rutler, November 25, 2012 (www.oursaviournyc.org/pastors-corner/from-the-pastor-1):

"An Apostolic Nuncio functions as an ambassador representing the Pope in countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. In certain countries the Apostolic Nuncio is de facto the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. For instance, Archbishop Charles Brown of our own archdiocese, who is a friend of our parish, has that role in Ireland. A Nuncio must be circumspect in speech without compromising the Church's integrity. When a Nuncio speaks publicly, it is safe to say that we are hearing the sentiments of the Holy Father himself.

"The Vatican has been engaged in foreign diplomacy longer than any other institution in the world, and it knows from long experience how to press points with subtlety, so when a Nuncio uses strong words, the situation he is addressing must be of serious moment.

"Never has a representative of the Holy See spoken about the state of the Church in the United States with such clarity and urgency as did Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, our new Nuncio, in an address on November 4 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The whole text would be a proper subject for meditation in our difficult times. His topic was Religious Liberty, and he explained that this involves more than 'freedom of worship,' which is a private exercise of faith. 'Freedom of religion' — guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — is the more encompassing free exercise of religious beliefs in public life. This freedom is threatened now in our nation and, the Archbishop said, 'This is a tragedy not only for the believer, but also for democratic society.' Religious freedom is 'a natural right which is not conferred by the state, because it subsists in the human person's nature.' Thus, religious freedom is to be protected by the government, and it is not something that the government has a right to limit or grant as though its source were the state and not God.

"Archbishop Viganò said that there are those who would persecute the Church, and 'martyrdom may not necessitate torture and death; however, the objective of those who desire to harm the faith may choose the path of ridiculing the believers so that they become outcasts from mainstream society and are marginalized from meaningful participation in public life.' Consequently, 'From the public viewpoint, the believer remains, but the faith eventually disappears.' This is the intention of 'important figures, some of whom hold high public office.' As one practical example, the Nuncio said, 'If George Orwell were still alive today, he would certainly have material to write a sequel to his famous novel 1984, in which the totalitarian state, amongst other things, found effective means for distancing children from their parents and monopolizing the control of educational processes especially on moral issues.'

"In the words of Pope John Paul II: 'A democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.'"

Alas, the Apostolic Nuncio spoke two days before Election Day 2012 and his words were "strong" to the brilliant Father Rutler but much too circumspect and subtle for the masses who are confused by the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to excommunicate the notorious pro-abortion Catholic politicians and the willingness of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of New York, to jovially host President Obama at the 2012 Al Smith Dinner and deliver benedictions at the pro-abortion Democrat National Convention as well as the pro-life Republican National Convention, notwithstanding the still pending lawsuit by the Archdiocese of New York challenging the Obama Administration's HHS mandate as an unconstitutional violation of religious liberty.

When dealing with the moneychangers in the Temple, Jesus eschewed circumspection and subtlety.

The Obama Administration is violating religious liberty. The Catholic bishops of the United States need not be violent, but they should be bold instead of bashful, clear instead of circumspect, strong instead of subtle and Christ-like instead of cringing before secular authority.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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