Saturday, June 23, 2012

Freedom to Act Like God Matters

I admit it. I think there's an authority higher than that of the American president, or even of the United States Supreme Court.

I also think that God exists, and matters:
That puts me seriously out of step with America's establishment. Like I've said before, I grew up in the '60s, so bucking the system isn't a new experience:

Pompous Nitwits and Authority

I have little use for pompous nitwits whose professional title or fancy desk give them a sort of authority. Legitimate authority, though? That I like:
The Catholic Church has quite a lot to say about authority, including:
"Every human community needs an authority to govern it.16 The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.

"The authority required by the moral order derives from God: 'Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.'17"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1898-1899)
Has authority been misused? Yes. All too often. But that's a problem with people, not something essentially bad about authority. (June 13, 2012)

Legitimate Authority

The Church has - what else? - rules about how authority may be used.
"Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a 'moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility':21
"A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22"
(Catechism, 1902)
There's more, about responsibility and participation, and what citizens and those in authority should do. (Catechism, 1913-1917) As a citizen, I'm expected to participate: which is where these posts come in.

Freedom, Conscience, and an Archbishop

As a practicing Catholic, one of my responsibilities is to be a good citizen. (Catechism, 2238-2243) (March 12, 2012)

There's an election coming up this November in America, so I'm paying more attention than usual to issues. One that I'm particularly concerned about is the right to act as if God matters:
"Archbishop Lori kicks-off Fortnight for Freedom with call to action"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (June 22, 2012)

"Catholics must fight against forces seeking to remove the influence of religion from American culture, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore told over 1,000 Catholics at a Mass beginning a 14-day campaign for religious freedom.

" 'In differing ways, both the Church's teaching and our nation's founding documents acknowledge that the Creator has endowed individuals with freedom of conscience,' said Archbishop Lori. 'Such freedom goes to the heart of the dignity of the human person.'

"The archbishop delivered the opening homily for the Fortnight for Freedom, the two-week period leading up to the Fourth of July that the bishops have dedicated as a time for prayer, education and advocacy for religious liberty...."
"Freedom of conscience" doesn't mean "I can do anything I like." Not for me, anyway. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1777-1779)

Conscience, Law, and Losing Your Head

"...Archbishop Lori, who leads the U.S. bishops' religious freedom committee, was met with standing applause when he entered the overflowing cathedral, as well as after the homily and at the conclusion of Mass.

"In his homily, he observed that the date chosen to kick off the fortnight was the eve of the feast day of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, 16th century English martyrs who were beheaded because they would not comply with a law that made King Henry VIII the head of the Church and broke communion with the Pope.

"He explained that these two saints symbolize the 'two aspects of religious freedom' that the Fortnight for Freedom is striving to protect and foster...."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
I've discussed Henry VIII's conjugal crisis and how he coped before. (March 7, 2012) What's happening in today's America differs in detail from the English monarch's power grab: but I see parallels.

St. Thomas More, Principles, and Henry VIII

"...An accomplished lawyer who served as the Chancellor of England, St. Thomas More was willing to accept martyrdom courageously rather than 'to betray his principles and his conscience.'

"Archbishop Lori said that More represents the conscientious private employers and employees who simply seek to 'go about their daily work in accord with their faith' and the demands of social justice, while avoiding 'doing or facilitating moral evil in course of daily work.'..."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
I've been over this before. The Catholic Church says that human beings are people. All human beings. Even those who don't look much like me, or are very young, or are useless. (Catechism, 2258, 2270-2279)

It's legal, under current American law, to kill innocent people: as long as they're too young or too sick to defend themselves. That doesn't make it right. Some business owners realize this. Maybe someday America's rulers will, too.

St. John Fisher, State Regulation of Religion, and Plundered Churches

"...While perhaps less well-know, St. John Fisher also witnessed courageously as the Bishop of Rochester in Kent, he added.

"Fisher helped renew the Church from within while opposing external state interference. After his martyrdom, royal forces seized churches, monasteries and learning centers, either destroying them or forcing them to break ties with the Catholic Church.

"The archbishop explained that St. John Fisher symbolizes for us the 'struggle to maintain religious freedom for church institutions and ministries such as our schools and charities.'..."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
How could forcing 'those Catholics' to pay for 'women's health care' possibly affect religious freedom?

Here's what the archbishop said:

Religious "Exemption" - Sort of

"...While we are not met with the 'dire brutality' that these two saints faced, the U.S. Church today is in 'perilous waters,' he said.

"He [Archbishop Lori] pointed to a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. While the mandate includes a religious exemption, it applies only to non-profit organizations that exist to inculcate religious values and that primarily serve and employ members of their own faiths...."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)
There are a few outfits in America that meet the government's requirements for a 'religious excemption.' But not, I think, many

To qualify for the privilege of not killing people, or paying assassins, organizations must:
  • Be non-profit
  • Exist to inculcate religious values
  • Primarily serve and employ
    members of their own faiths
Think about it. If a hospital exists to cure the sick, it doesn't qualify. If a business makes a profit, it doesn't qualify. If a church hires people without discriminating on the basis of religion, it doesn't qualify.

Since discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or religion, is illegal in America, I think one word sums up the government's current position regarding Americans with a conscience: GOTCHA!

I also think there's hope for change. Americans have an opportunity to vote in November. If enough of us are paying attention, and think that freedom to act as if God matters is important, we can make a difference.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.