Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Catholics Should be Bursting with Pride

This priest's entertaining rant against President Obama's infamous Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces religious institutions to provide funding for sterilizations, chemical abortion inducing drugs, and contraceptives is fun and refreshing:

It's only part of the story however. The impressive moral clarity that has come from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (the only legitimate voice for the Catholic Church in the US) is inspiring. They have rightly identified this issue and the fake accomodation offered by President as a grave moral concern and fundamental issue of religious freedom that affects insurers, employers and individuals.

In doing so they have defended religious liberty for all Americans, and earned the respect of many protestants and secularists. One of the best endorsements came from Forbes writer Charles Kladec:

Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.
. . .
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty. By so doing, they, and the institution of the Catholic Church, will have my love and respect for the rest of my life.
Powerful stuff. It makes me proud to be Catholic. It also underlines the importance of the issue. Tyrants through out history have tried to stamp out religious freedom in order increase their power. Michael Polson outlines a startling similar comparison to an edict forcing Jews to eat pork and a similarly pathetic 'accomodation'

In the second century B.C., the foreign tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes decreed that all Jews should be forced to violate their religious consciences by publicly eating pork and food sacrificed to idols. “If any were not willing to eat defiling food, they were to be broken on the wheel and killed” (4 Maccabees 5:3). It was a command of gratuitous forced submission as a sign of Antiochus’s supreme authority to compel obedience by a subject people.

But it was not to be: “And when many persons had been rounded up, one man, Eleazar by name, leader of the flock, was brought before the king.” Eleazar was an old man. Antiochus, who said he respected Eleazar for his “gray hairs,” tried to persuade him to submit to the command to eat pork: “‘why, when nature has granted it to us, should you abhor eating the very excellent meat of this animal? It is senseless not to enjoy delicious things that are not shameful, and wrong to spurn the gifts of nature.’” A reasonable enough argument—if one does not appreciate religious conscience.

Antiochus went on: “‘it seems to me that you will do something even more senseless if, by holding a vain opinion concerning the truth, you continue to despise me to your own hurt. Will you not awaken from your foolish philosophy, dispel your futile reasoning, adopt a mind appropriate to your years, philosophize according to the truth of what is beneficial, and have compassion on your old age by honoring my humane advice?’” And then, the convincing clincher: if compelled by torture, Eleazar’s actions surely would be excused by his God! “‘For consider this, that if there is some power watching over this religion of yours, it will excuse you from any transgression that arises out of compulsion’” (4 Maccabees 5:6–13).

Eleazar declined, stating that no compulsion was more powerful than obedience to God. “‘Therefore do not suppose that it would be a petty sin if we were to eat defiling food; to transgress the law in matters either small or great is of equal seriousness, for in either case the law is equally despised’” (4 Maccabees 5:19–20).

Antiochus had Eleazar stripped and scourged nearly to death. Then, “partly out of sympathy from their acquaintance with him, partly out of admiration for his endurance, some of the king’s retinue offered Eleazar an accommodation: “‘Eleazar, why are you so irrationally destroying yourself through these evil things? We will set before you some cooked meat; save yourself by pretending to eat pork’” (4 Maccabees 6:14–15).

It was a rather inspired political maneuver: the tyrant’s authority to compel obedience would be vindicated. At the same time, the misguided dictates of pathetic religious conscience would (surely) be satisfied. But Eleazar would have none of the charade. . .

I'm thankful that the US Bishops will also have none of Obama's charade. Congress should act quickly to protect religious freedoms. Catholics in particular should be proud and supportive of their bishops and more generally the fact that this mandate was passed at all is an important example of why it is essential for people of faith to be involved in politics, because those who argue that they should not participate in politics will run over their rights at the first opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Now, if only they could get so morally outraged about a system that shuffles priests who diddle kids around to new parishes and gives them a whole new cadre of victims, they might have some sort of relevance.

hunter said...

Anony would probably also be the first one to tell us NOT to condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few terrorists.

I pray for those lost priests and especially all those they have hurt. I will not condemn the whole Catholic Church and their teachings because of them. The Catholic Church is the only Church that has remained true to it's teachings. People of the Catholic faith are also allowed the freedom to choose their path.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Thanks Hunter. I agree with you whole heartedly.

I might also add that anon is spineless for throwing out inflammatory comments without identifying his/her self. Lastly, the Bishops generally have made great strides since 2002 to screen candidates for the priesthood in seminaries and to remove offending priests from active ministry.

The Bishops have a mountain of credibility on this issue.

SDC said...

Of COURSE, how could I have missed it? The fact that the muslims are also believers in an insane bronze-age cult automatically lets every other insane bronze-age cult off the hook for all time, no matter how immoral they may be, right? We should congratulate these people for having the immense moral clarity to demand that ostensibly free people should not have the right to choose whether or not to have children, and for their (admittedly belately, kicking and screaming) courageous decision to finally stop aiding and abetting the skeevy pederasts in their ranks from further victimizing children in their care, and doing everything they can to delay, obstruct and deny justice for those victims. That's some credibility they've got there.

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