Current Affairs

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 18, 2015 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia warned Tuesday that the United States will face increasing pressure to abandon its traditionally broad protections for religious liberty, though he encouraged Christians never to give up hope in God’s love.

Religious liberty, he said, “means much more than the freedom to believe whatever you like at home, and pray however you like in your church.”

“It means the right to preach, teach and worship in public and in private,” he said March 17. “It means a parent’s right to protect his or her children from harmful teaching. It means the right to engage the public square with moral debate and works of social ministry. It means the freedom to do all of this without negative interference from the government, direct or indirect, except within the limits of ‘just public order’.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput says Mass in Philadelphia's St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Sept. 7, 2014. Credit: Javier de la Flor/CNA.

The archbishop’s remarks came in his speech to Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he discussed Dignitatis humanae, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom.

Archbishop Chaput evaluated the religious freedom situation in the U.S. as “good” compared to “almost anywhere else in the world.”

“Religious believers played a very big role in founding and building the country. Until recently, our laws have reflected that.  In many ways they still do.”

He noted that a “large majority” of Americans believe in God and identify as Christian, while religious practice is high.

“But that’s changing.  And the pace will quicken. More young people are disaffiliated from religion now than at any time in our country’s past. More stay away as they age. And many have no sense of the role that religious freedom has played in our nation’s life and culture.”

The archbishop said the current administration may be “the least friendly to religious freedom concerns in history.” This trend will continue in areas like gay rights, contraception and abortion services, and public religious witness, as well as in the application of “so-called ‘anti-discrimination’ laws,” he said.

The tendency will also be evident in anti-bullying policies “that turn public schools into indoctrination centers on matters of human sexuality” that undermine any concept of truth in the concepts of male and female; and it will be manifested in restrictions on public funding, revoked tax exemptions, and expanded government regulations.

However, for Archbishop Chaput the biggest “crippling” problem in U.S. culture is the lack of a commonly shared meaning to words such as justice, rights, freedom, and dignity.

“We speak the same language, but the words don’t mean the same thing. Our public discourse never gets down to what’s true and what isn’t, because it can’t. Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.”

He said that liberal democracy lacks the ability to be self-sustaining. “Democracy depends for its meaning on the existence of some higher authority outside itself,” he said.  

Human dignity has only one source and guarantee: humanity’s creation in the image and likeness of God.

“Modern pluralist democracy has plenty of room for every religious faith and no religious faith.  But we’re lying to ourselves if we think we can keep our freedoms without revering the biblical vision – the uniquely Jewish and Christian vision – of who and what man is.”

Archbishop Chaput summarized Christianity’s approach to society. Its rise had posed a threat to pagan societies, since the Christian understanding of sacred and secular authority rejected worship of the Roman Empire’s gods.

At one point the “confessional state” became “the standard Catholic model of government.” Such a state was committed to “advancing the true Catholic religion and suppressing religious error.”

The Second Vatican Council’s teaching on religious liberty aimed to correct this approach by “going back to the sources of Christian thought.”

“The choice to believe any religious faith must be voluntary. Faith must be an act of free will, or it can’t be valid,” he noted.

“Forced belief violates the person, the truth and the wider community of faith, because it’s a lie,” the archbishop continued. Persons have rights “even when they choose falsehood over truth.”

The archbishop warned that religious freedom cannot survive unless people “actually believe and live their faith,” including in their public lives.

“No one can finally take our freedom unless we give it away,” he maintained.

“In practice, no law and no constitution can protect religious freedom unless people actually believe and live their faith – not just at home or in church, but in their public lives. But it’s also true that no one can finally take our freedom unless we give it away.”

Archbishop Chaput stressed the importance of finding hope in the people who comfort the suffering, serve the poor and “seek and teach the truth.”

“In the end, there’s too much evidence that God loves us, with a passion that is totally unreasonable and completely redemptive, to ever stop trusting in God’s purpose for the world, and for our lives.”

{ 0 comments }

It is too bad that a letter stating that Catholic schools must teach according to the truth and morals of the Catholic Church should bring condemnation and threats to an archbishop. Welcome to America in the 21st century.

***************************************

Dissenting from Catholic Teaching or the Natural Moral Law in a Catholic
High School does not Promote Holiness, Virtue and Evangelization.

Dear Teachers in the Archdiocesan Catholic High Schools,

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone Letter to Teachers

Thank you for the work you do to help our young students learn, mature, and grow in the Catholic faith. Know of my gratitude for the energy, expertise and devotion that you bring to this wonderful and most critical enterprise.

This enterprise involves a two-fold endeavor, since, for a Catholic high school to attain excellence, it must be at one and the same time an excellent institution of secondary education and a truly Catholic institution. Changes in our secular society over the last few decades have brought new challenges to this endeavor in both senses, as we now face both increased difficulties in educating our students well in an array of academic subjects, and unprecedented challenges in forming our young people with a deep and strong Catholic identity as well as a knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith.

The Second Vatican Council, in its declaration on Catholic educationGravissimum Educationis, insisted on Catholic schools assisting Catholic parents in their primary duty of educating their children in virtue, holiness, and their ability to evangelize others in society (see especially nn. 3 and 8). Picking up on this theme, the U.S. bishops have affirmed that “Catholic elementary and secondary schools [are] invaluable instruments in proclaiming the Good News from one generation to the next” (see Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, US Conference of Catholic Bishops [2005], p. 2).

As one means of fulfilling this most serious responsibility, all of our schools currently have programs to help teachers give more effective witness to the Catholic faith. I support these programs. However, I also see a need to provide more clarity for our teachers. For this reason, I have developed a document that clarifies Catholic issues in our Catholic schools. At the outset, though, I wish to state clearly and emphatically that the intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively, nor does it introduce anything essentially new into the contract or the faculty handbook.

Many Catholics are at Variance with Church Teaching

At the same time, we need to face the current reality in society and the Church honestly, seriously and frankly: many people have opinions directly contrary to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, many Catholics themselves have beliefs at variance with Church teaching. This is simply a reality of our modern society. This reality stems in great part from the tremendous pressure the contemporary culture places on everyone to conform to a certain agenda at variance with, and often aggressively so, our Christian understanding of the human person and God’s purpose in creation.

This pressure is exerted relentlessly in the media, in entertainment, in politics, in academia, in corporations – in short, in all of the influencers of popular culture. This problem in society in general is already serious enough, but when people in Catholic institutions endorse such views it creates a toxic confusion about our fundamental values among both students and others in society at large. As teaching institutions, therefore, Catholic schools have to be very clear about what constitutes the true teachings of the Catholic Church. They owe that to the teachers, to the students, and to the parents of the students. 

Confusion on Sexual Morality and Religious Discpline

Confusion about the Church’s stance is prevalent in areas of sexual morality and religious discipline. For this reason, the statements for inclusion in the faculty handbook focus on these two areas. This focus does not imply lesser importance to Catholic teachings on social justice, which in fact are widely accepted and well interpreted in Catholic educational institutions. The areas requiring clarification are in Catholic teachings on sexual morality and religious practice.

Having clear statements especially about “hot button issues” related to faith and morals is important to teachers for two reasons. The first is that a forthright statement of the Church’s position on these issues helps teachers provide good perspectives to their students who often struggle in these areas.

The second reason is that candid formulation of Church doctrine protects those teachers who don’t agree with the statements. That sounds counterintuitive, but it is indeed the case. In a society in which confusion reigns about Church teachings, highlighting the controversial issues alerts teachers to avoid contradicting Church teaching on these issues either in the school or in some public way outside the classroom.

Dissenting from Catholic Teaching does not Promote Holiness

All teachers are expected to contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue, and familiarity with the Gospel. How can this occur if not all teachers agree with Catholic teachings?

The way to assist teachers who distance themselves or privately oppose some Catholic teachings is to alert them to sensitive issues. Because the school fosters holiness, virtue and evangelization, teachers not knowledgeable about the precise contours of Catholic teaching have to be cautious about what they say in the school and what they do in the public sphere outside the Catholic school. Honest mistakes do happen, and when they do, reparation can be made. This is not in and of itself a cause for a teacher to be punished. At the same time, teachers and staff at Catholic high schools have to strive to present Catholic teachings as consistently as possible. Dissenting from Catholic teaching or the natural moral law in a Catholic high school does not promote holiness, virtue and evangelization.

Finally, it is important to note the careful use of language in the document. In front of many statements of Catholic teaching in the faculty handbook come the words “affirm and believe.” This is a statement made on behalf of the institution, not all individuals in the institutions. Our Catholic high schools try to hire people who do believe what the Church teaches, but in our schools we have good teachers who belong to other Christian faiths or to no faith at all. They are members of the school community.

The language “affirm and believe” acknowledges the good activity of the entire corps of faculty and staff by making this claim on behalf of the institution. That is, in the first instance, “affirm and believe” refers to the Catholic high school itself, and, secondly, to many faculty who identify with the Catholic teachings behind which the high school as a whole stands.

My hope is that the document on Catholic faith and morals that is becoming part of the faculty handbook in our Catholic high schools will help the schools better fulfill their mission, and also highlight for teachers true Catholic teachings that are contested by many people in secular society today.

Sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

{ 2 comments }

March 9, 2015 By Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer   (see also The Stream’s: “Should Catholics Oppose the Death Penalty?“)

“Dr. Steven Long beat me to it. His rejoinder to the “Capital punishment must end” editorial of America, National Catholic RegisterNational Catholic Reporter, andOur Sunday Visitor is essential reading even if, in some places, Long’s essay, “Four Catholic Journals Indulge in Doctrinal Solipsism”, needs to be translated into readable English.*

Worse, though, than the four journals editorial itself—which for the most part only repackages and recycles prudential arguments against the death penalty as if they were arguments in principle—have been some of  the “pile-ons” published in its wake, with Pathos administering an especially condescending tongue-lashing to Catholics who, tsk-tsk, can’t understand that opposition to the death penalty is demanded “for the simplest of reasons” and then walks Catholic troglodyte death-penalty enthusiasts through four reasons why they are (supposedly) so utterly and embarrassingly wrong, beginning each reason with “We are Catholic”.

Like, you know, I’m not.

As a Catholic squarely in line with the Catholic tradition that, as Long accurately if turgidly sets out, supports the just administration of the death penalty for capital crimes, I have grown used to having my motives for such support reduced to: my thirst for vengeance, my disdain for mercy, my obliviousness to Christ’s salvific will, my despair about conversion, and my contempt for compassion. I apparently do not understand that the death penalty does not bring murder victims back to life (gee, whodathunkit?) but that’s not to worry, because my support for the death penalty can be excused (and then dismissed) on purely demographic grounds (I am, after all, white, male, middle-aged, and usually vote conservative, so who cares what a heartless jerk like me thinks about anything?)

But, besides venting, there are two substantive points I would like to add to this discussion, the first, concerning how some seem to read the much-vaunted language added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty.

For the whole article, with which I agree completely, CLICK HERE.

{ 2 comments }

Iraqi Nuns Slam Media Silence on Middle East Christian Persecution

September 23, 2014

Sometimes it takes a David to defeat a Goliath – or, in this case, unassuming nuns to speak where the media remain silent.  Speaking out for Christians persecuted in the Middle East, Mother Olga Yaqob and Sister Hatune Dogan slammed the American media for keeping silent. The nuns spoke with MRC during the In Defense of [...]

Read the full article →

Judge Gives Restraining Order to Black Mass Leaders – Consecrated Host Belongs to the Catholic Church

August 21, 2014

Says Host Cannot Be Damaged or Taken From Oklahoma City Pending Hearing WASHINGTON, D.C., August 21, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking a judge to halt the desecration of a Eucharistic Host as part of a planned satanic black mass scheduled for September in the city’s [...]

Read the full article →

Adopt a Christian in Mosul – I just did!

August 9, 2014

Visit Asia News at http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Adopt-a-Christian-from-Mosul-to-respond-directly-to-Iraq’s-emergency-31845.html AsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis’s urgent appeal “to guarantee all necessary assistance – especially the most urgently needed aid – to the great multitude of people who have been driven [...]

Read the full article →

Where is Ronald Reagan When We Need Him? Why I Felt Pain at the National Anthem. May My Grandchildren Still Celebrate the 4th in Liberty When They are My Age!

July 4, 2014

(Watch Reagan video below) Not long ago we were on a boat sailing across the Sea of Galilee. The captain raised the United States flag and played the national anthem. My heart was ripped in half. I love my country, but I no longer love my country. Let me explain. When I pull out my [...]

Read the full article →

Update of Catholic School Uprising over “Theology of the Body” and Sr. Jane Dominic

April 8, 2014

News   Print Article  |   Email Friend  |  Reprint Permissions Charlotte diocese backs nun who gave school talk promoting Church teaching on homosexuality BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN   Mon Apr 07, 2014 18:27 EST CHARLOTTE, NC, April 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The bishop of Charlotte is backing a Dominican nun who has been at the center of a fiery controversy since last [...]

Read the full article →

Who Speaks for God on Morals? Many Choose their Church Like they Choose a Restaurant

December 11, 2013

We have a “church” near our house that is making it comfortable for anyone to join no matter who they are, what they believe or what they practice. They say it is our job to accept and love, to be nice, not to judge. Celebrate Diversity is a slogan of acceptance, multiculturalism, non-judgmental inclusion. Some [...]

Read the full article →

We Had a Health Plan We Liked

November 19, 2013

We had a great health insurance plan since 2009 and we liked it, but the cancellation letter told us it did not meet Obamacare (ACA) requirements. The new plans offered sterilization, abortifacients and other gravely sinful matter. We are switching to Medishare a Christian medical bill sharing organization. It’s not for everyone because they are stringent [...]

Read the full article →

What is Real Tolerance?

October 29, 2013

This video deserves a Million views. Watch it, like it, share it.  

Read the full article →

Immoral Silence regarding Slaughter of Christians Around the World

October 8, 2013

Janet and I have been to parts of the world where it is dangerous to be a Christian: India, southern Philippines, Muslim countries, China, Egypt and more. It is distressing that the free world is silent about this massive persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope their plight is made known and [...]

Read the full article →

My Friend Al Kresta: Story of an Unsung Hero and Modern-day Prophet

September 30, 2013

This article is a great read and inspires one to hope for the faith and country. Al Kresta and I have been good friends since 1983 when I first met him upon my return from living in Switzerland. Al was dressed in knickers and a goutee at the time, playing the part of my then [...]

Read the full article →

When will Pope John Paul II be canonized?

August 3, 2013

There are a few dates floating around: one is December 8th of 2013, the other is Divine Mercy Sunday, April 24, 2014. Either way we are prepared with flights and hotel rooms reserved for any scenario. We are building another amazing itinerary that no one else will replicate. We are lining up special guests and [...]

Read the full article →

For those who thought religion was dead or the Catholic Church irrelevant: Feast your eyes on this!

July 30, 2013

For over a hundred years we’ve heard the foolish obituary, “God is dead!” The Enlightenment enlightened us to this truth and told us we were alone in the Universe. No God! We men are in charge and the center of all things. We shape our destiny, we create meaning for our existence, we can rid [...]

Read the full article →

Defending Marriage in an Age of Unreason (Zenit Article)

July 21, 2013

Have you ever tried to argue with a telephone pole or maybe a hysterical person? That is often what it is like trying to reason with some people invested in the new a-moral world of gay politics and the dissolution of traditional marriage. Rarely can you have a real conversation since on one hand it [...]

Read the full article →