Showing posts with label persecution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label persecution. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2020

Reflecting on “Silence”

I watched the Martin Scorsese film Silence last night. It was a well made film that makes one think about the ends and means of one’s actions. 

Saying that it’s well made is not an endorsement of its moral quality here. It’s not a film for casual viewing: the USCCB has given it an “L” rating (limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling). It’s a justified rating because the actions of the protagonist are incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The review rightly warns:

Those lacking such a foundation [of being well grounded in their faith] could be led astray, drawing the conclusion that mercy toward the suffering of others can sometimes justify sin. While Catholics who are blessed with the freedom to practice their faith in peace are hardly in a position to judge those facing martyrdom, the principle that circumstances can mitigate guilt but not transform wrong into right remains universally valid.

This article is not a review of the movie. Rather, it is a reflection on the attitude of the protagonist Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues. The thing that struck me as I watched it was a theme that came up again and again: The temptation to ask, How could God be “silent” in the face of suffering the Japanese Christians endured?

In this movie, Fr. Rodrigues couldn’t answer it and fell into doubt, witnessing the tortures the faithful endured, combined with the duress given by the chief persecutor and the spurious rationalizations made by another apostatizing priest. He ends up apostatizing himself, spending the rest of his life rooting out smuggled religious goods and writing “refutations” of the Catholic Faith. The movie implies that he might have repented in the end by showing, at his cremation, a small crucifix in his hands as his casket is consumed by fire. The book, by 

Shūsaku Endō, reportedly treated the apostasy by Fr. Rodrigues as a morally “good” act§ to save others from torment. Japanese Catholics almost unanimously condemned the book when it was published in 1966.

The thing that struck me, watching the film, was the slow motion train wreck of a trap that Fr. Rodrigues fell into. He couldn’t grasp how God could allow His people to suffer and began to see it as “silence” on the part of God. This weakened him under the torture the inquisitor (the movie’s chosen term) inflicted on Japanese Christians to get him to apostatize, telling him it was his fault and the spurious argument (posited by the apostate Ferreira) that Christianity wasn’t suited for Japan. The final result was “hearing” Jesus telling him to step on the fumi-e (a religious image suspected Christians were forced to step on as an act of apostasy) to be “like” him and save His people would certainly be an insult to the martyrs who died rather than perform a “meaningless” gesture like burn a pinch of incense in Roman times, step on the fumi-e in Japan, or in whatever form we might face the attack.

Persecution, the rise of heresy and schism, corruption in the Church, and other evils are not a sign of God’s “silence.” Nor are they signs of His “weakness” or “nonexistence.” We may not do evil so that good may come of them, and a good intention does not change the fact that an act is evil. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out:

1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it. (1789)

We in the West may never face overt persecution (I pray we are never put to that test). Most of what we face comes from unjust lawsuits, and other harassment where we are tempted daily to compromise.

But we should beware of thinking that the flaws of the characters Fr. Rodrigues and Fr. Ferreira were simply that they were “weak” men who failed, but we wouldn’t. Whenever we entertain doubts that something we don’t like is a failure on the part of God, we are falling into the trap that they did. Whenever we’re tempted to think that a good intent “justifies” our evil act, or that the consequences we oppose are an exemption to our moral obligations, we are behaving like these characters. We will always encounter hardships in life. Some will encounter hardships that are worse than ours. But those hardships never exempt us from doing good and opposing evil.

We should keep this in mind when we face our constant mild trials, and if we should face an insurmountable trial, we need to pray to God that we be given the grace to do what we’re called to do, and not try to rely on our own preferences and strength.


(§) As a disclaimer, I have not read the novel. This assessment comes from other sources. But they’re unanimous that the scene with the crucifix did not happen and seemed contrary to the novel.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Persecution: American Style

Western nations attacking Christians don’t normally use the violent, brutal attacks we associate with the term “persecution.” Because of that, it is easy to pretend that Western Christians are not targeted for their beliefs. But that’s the fallacy of relative privation. The fact that attacks on Christians in Country A are far worse than harassment of Christians in Country B does not mean the situation in Country B is not unjust.

In the West, attacks on Christians begin over teachings against popular vices. Foes portray Christian opposition to moral wrongs as hating the people who commit them. Then they accuse Christians of violating an esteemed cultural value out of bad will. These accusations justify laws (or, more commonly, executive action and court rulings) against the alleged wrongdoing of Christians. When Christians insist on obeying their faith despite unjust laws, foes harass them by Criminal and Civil complaints aimed at forcing compliance. 

Political and cultural elites argue that the injustice is just a consequence of Christians doing wrong. If they would abandon their “bigotry,” they would not face legal harassment. The problem is, they accuse us of wrongdoing, but we are not guilty of wrongdoing. We deny that we base our moral beliefs on the hatred of people who do what we profess is wrong. They must prove their accusation. People cannot simply assume it is true.

In response, foes bring up the bigoted behavior of a few who profess to be Christians. The Westboro Baptist Church was a popularly cited bugbear before the group fell into obscurity. They argue that groups like this prove bigotry on the part of Christians. This means that those who deplore stereotypes stereotype us. They claim (and we agree) that people can’t assume all Muslims are terrorists or that all Hispanics are illegal aliens just because some are. But they do use fringe group Christians to argue all Christians are bigots.

To avoid guilt in this persecution, Americans must learn that our believing certain acts are morally wrong does not mean we hate those who do those acts. Yes, some Christians confuse opposing evil with hating evil-doers. You condemn them. But so do we. Just behavior demands you investigate accusations against Christians, not assuming our moral beliefs are proof of our guilt and claiming the only defense is to renounce our beliefs.

Please, do not try to equate our moral objections with America’s shameful legacy of slavery and segregation. We don’t deny the human rights of any sinner—for then we would have to deny them to ourselves—but we do deny that law can declare a sinful act the same as a morally good act. Do not assume we want to reinstate laws and punishments from past centuries to punish sinners. We’re also shocked by what nations saw as necessary to deter crime that harmed society [1]. But saying theft is wrong does not mean we think chopping off the hands of a thief is right. Even when an act is evil, there can be unjust and disproportionate punishments in response.

Also, please do not assume that your lack of knowledge of what we believe and why we believe it means we have no justification but bigotry when we say things are wrong, Just because a foe cannot imagine why we believe X is wrong does not mean we have no valid reason. I can speak only as a Catholic [I leave it to the Orthodox and Protestants to explain their own reasons when it differs with the Catholic reasoning] but we do have 2000 years of moral theology looking into acts, why they are wrong and what to remember for the moral considerations about personal responsibility. Our goal is not coercion or punishment. Our goal is reconciling the sinner with God. That means turning away from wrongdoing and doing what is right.

Foes may say they think our ideas of morality are wrong. But if they believe we are wrong, then they have an obligation to show why they are right and we are wrong—with the same obligation to answer criticisms of their claims that they demand of us. They cannot accuse us of “forcing views on others” and then demand we accept their views without question. That’s not the values America was founded over. That’s partisan hypocrisy worthy of the old Soviet Union, and should have no part in American discourse.




[1] Of course, remember that France as a secular nation did not abolish the guillotine until 1980, so perhaps we shouldn’t think we’re so far ahead of those times as we would like to think?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Face of the Lord is Against Evildoers"

“Whoever would love life 

and see good days 

must keep the tongue from evil 

and the lips from speaking deceit, 

must turn from evil and do good, 

seek peace and follow after it. 

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous 

and his ears turned to their prayer, 

but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)

Everybody seems perfectly able to see the flaws of others. Few people seem able to see the flaws in themselves. That is human nature. Unfortunately, when people are shown the flaws in themselves, the usual response is hostility to the one who points it out. This can become quite serious—especially when one considers that societies are made out of people, and when the people of such societies are confronted with their own flaws, they tend to use the power and authority of the society to target the one who opposes the wrongdoing and refuses to go along with them.

This happens often. I find similarities in attitude today with the attitudes of ancient Rome. Consider this account of St. Symphorian:

The city of Autun was one of the most ancient and famous of all Gaul; but at that time the most superstitious, and particularly addicted to the worship of Cybele, Apollo, and Diana. On a certain day of the year, the statue of Cybele was with great pomp carried through the streets in a chariot richly adorned. Symphorian, because he had not on that occasion adored it, was seized by the mob, and carried before Heraclius, a man of consular dignity, and governor of the province, who happened to be then at Autun, very busy in calling the Christians to an account. Heraclius, being seated on his tribunal, asked him why he refused to adore the image of the mother of the gods. He answered, because he was a Christian, and adored the true God who reigneth in heaven. The judge then inquired of the officers whether he was a citizen of the place. One of them answered: “He is of this place, and of a noble family.” The judge said to Symphorian: “You flatter yourself on account of your birth, and are perhaps unacquainted with the emperor’s orders.” He then ordered him to be bound, and said to him: “What say you to this, Symphorian?” The martyr continuing to express his abhorrence of the idol, Heraclius commanded him to be cruelly beaten with clubs, and sent him to prison. 


[Alban Butler, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, vol. 3 (New York: P. J. Kenedy, 1903), 441–442.]

We tend to pride ourselves on being more civilized than in the past. But, setting aside the means of punishment (St. Symphorian was martyred), the attitude of society towards one who rejects the public values of society is just as hostile. Witness the treatment of people who refuse to worship the current idol of “same sex marriage.” People are sued, fined, prosecuted and so on because they will not accept it as morally acceptable.

Since this refusal bears witness to the existence of right behavior which is being shunned, the people who see this witness to their wrongdoing are hostile. They want people to publicly accept and acknowledge the idols. They offer rewards and promise to remove threats if one will publicly accept society’s idol—even if they do not personally believe it to be true. The deal offered is to just compromise a little.

But when the person who is tempted to compromise recognizes that this offer is really an attempt to seduce them into doing what they know is morally wrong, they cannot compromise at all. The fact is, no person is ever justified in doing something they believe to be morally wrong. We cannot do evil so good may come of it and therefore, if it comes to a choice, we must prefer to suffer evil than be guilty of doing it.

This is why so many martyrs went to their deaths when they were told, “It’s just a pinch of incense. You don’t even have to believe what you’re doing. Just go along!” They knew it wasn’t “just a pinch of incense.” They knew that their knowledge of and fidelity to the truth of God meant they could not even pretend to believe in the idols of society.

This is the difference between the Christian belief and the belief in moral relativism. Moral relativism says there are no moral absolutes, so we should not act as if things were morally wrong. Under such a view, views that one disagrees with should be tolerated and not opposed. Of course the moral relativist never applies this philosophy to their own behavior—fewer and fewer people tolerate the Christian who says that moral wrongs exist unless that Christian has modified his or her beliefs to avoid speaking out against the idols of society. (if they truly believed in tolerance, they would have to tolerate Christians exercising their rights).

For the Christian—at least the one informed in his or her faith—we must seek out and follow the truth, and God is the ultimate truth. We can never say that evil is acceptable. If one would profess love of Jesus, they cannot ignore His injunction to keep His commandments (John 14:15). God has spoken on how we must live, and has established His Church to shepherd the believers. If we will not listen, if we will not turn from evil and do good, then God will set His face against us.

Every one of us has to look into their own heart. They have to honestly ask whether their actions or their preferences are compatible with what God calls us to be. But because we do have a Church, which Jesus established (see Matthew 16:18-19), we can know that when our actions go against the teaching of the Church, if it sets the teaching of the Church as being in the wrong, we need to look again at them, knowing we need to have a change of heart, praying to God to convert us when it seems impossible to obey.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Lord Warned Us and It's Here. Let Us Pray and Prepare

If you look in the comments on news sites and on Facebook concerning the Religious Freedom law in Indiana, it is clear that the reactions seem to stem from a hatred of Christian moral teaching and a willingness to bully anyone who stands up for their faith and refuse to take part in something which their beliefs tell them is wrong. If we would just abandon our beliefs that certain actions are wrong, the world would not hate us.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Our Lord warned us that the world hated Him and it would hate us too for being faithful to Him:

18 “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you,* ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken* to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’ (John 15:18-25)

None of us expected it to be here so soon. Hatred and persecution is something people tend to think of as happening in distant lands, the distant past or the distant future. Sometimes the persecution is milder—legal harassment. Sometimes it is harsh, imprisonment and death for the faith. The people doing the persecution always think they are doing a good thing.

In this case, in America, we have a vocal portion of this nation led by the political and media elites who are determined to portray our insistence not to do evil as a hatred of the people who do these acts. We have a choice. We can either remain faithful to God, praying for Him to strengthen us in the face of this hatred or we can abandon those beliefs which the world finds offensive and become harmless Christians who have no impact on the world.

We know that the second option is not an option if we are going to be faithful to God. So we need to pray for the strength to face whatever form persecution takes for us individually. Some of us may only have to endure hostile words. Others of us may have to endure legal harassment or prosecution. Our task is to bring our Catholic faith to the world, even when we are hated for doing so, even when we are hated for saying, “You must not do this thing!” Even when the branches of our government refuse to face their obligation to protect us from our enemies.

So each of us needs to pray, for ourselves and each other. So when the persecution comes to each one of us, we may do God’s will.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reflections on Persecution


The word persecution tends to be misused today. Either people try to limit its use to the great atrocities of world history (such as the Holocaust or the Ethnic Cleansing), or use it as an epithet when a person happens to oppose their position (such as the rhetoric used by proponents of “same sex marriage”). Both would be misuses because:

  1. Persecution is not limited to genocide
  2. Persecution is not mere opposition.

Why These Two Cases Misapply the Word Persecution

The first case is a misuse because this confuses what a persecution is (definition) with the level of injustice directed at a person because of his or her religion, ethnicity or political outlook. When this confusion is made, it basically says, “You’re not being persecuted because what you’re going through is not severe enough to count.” Yes, genocide of people of a religion or race is a persecution, but there can be less drastic forms intending to cause harm to a person which are persecution, but fall short of mass murder.

The second case is a misuse because this confuses mere opposition to a person’s views or behavior with maltreating them on account of those who hold them. For example, when I meet an atheist who is virulently anti-Catholic, I may think he’s a bigot or an idiot if he’s obnoxious enough about it. But I don’t assume he is persecuting me simply on the grounds that he thinks my views or actions are wrong. It’s only if he goes from opposition to seeking to mistreat me on account of my beliefs that opposition can become persecution. When being opposed by someone who thinks your ideas are wrong and seeks to pass laws which support what they think is right, that’s not persecution. But when someone seeks to use the law to target someone who holds certain beliefs with the aim of punishing them for holding those beliefs and living in accordance with them, that is persecution.

So, the state not recognizing “same sex marriage” is not a persecution of people with same sex attraction. Nor is outlawing abortion a persecution of women. Such laws do not seek to punish people for having same sex attraction or being a woman They face no legal maltreatment for being a person with same sex attraction or being a woman. However, a judge who rules that it is illegal for a person who refuses to provide services on the grounds that he or she believes that to do so is to cooperate with moral evil is persecuting the person. He or she can either abandon their moral convictions or face repercussions.

The Issues of Religious Persecution

St. John Paul II, in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor points out what this conflict ends up being about. It is about the obligation to do what is right in the face of coercion to do what is wrong. When we are called to do what is right before God, we see it as better to suffer evil at the hands of our persecutors than to do evil ourselves:

91. In the Old Testament we already find admirable witnesses of fidelity to the holy law of God even to the point of a voluntary acceptance of death. A prime example is the story of Susanna: in reply to the two unjust judges who threatened to have her condemned to death if she refused to yield to their sinful passion, she says: “I am hemmed in on every side. For if I do this thing, it is death for me; and if I do not, I shall not escape your hands. I choose not to do it and to fall into your hands, rather than to sin in the sight of the Lord!” (Dan 13:22–23). Susanna, preferring to “fall innocent” into the hands of the judges, bears witness not only to her faith and trust in God but also to her obedience to the truth and to the absoluteness of the moral order. By her readiness to die a martyr, she proclaims that it is not right to do what God’s law qualifies as evil in order to draw some good from it. Susanna chose for herself the “better part”: hers was a perfectly clear witness, without any compromise, to the truth about the good and to the God of Israel. By her acts, she revealed the holiness of God.

The same applies to us. When threatened by punishment or death if we do not choose to do evil, we must choose to obey God. This has been an example throughout history. Our martyrs witness to the proper response to persecution Take for example, the account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp (AD 69–155):

And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”


[Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., & Coxe, A. C. (Eds.). (1885). The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna. In The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Vol. 1, p. 41). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.]

Susanna could have sought to save her life from the corrupt judges by yielding to them. St. Polycarp could have saved his life by denying Christ. Christians today can avoid suffering, whether physical or otherwise, by compromising their beliefs. By participating in a sin, they could save their lives or their businesses. But they chose to do what was right and obey Christ.

Most of us will not have to suffer martyrdom for our faith (though it may happen—ten years ago, I never thought America would be where she is today). But we may have to endure lesser suffering if we would be faithful to God. As St. John Paul II told us in Veritatis Splendor #93:

Although martyrdom represents the high point of the witness to moral truth, and one to which relatively few people are called, there is nonetheless a consistent witness which all Christians must daily be ready to make, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice. Indeed, faced with the many difficulties which fidelity to the moral order can demand, even in the most ordinary circumstances, the Christian is called, with the grace of God invoked in prayer, to a sometimes heroic commitment. In this he or she is sustained by the virtue of fortitude, whereby—as Gregory the Great teaches—one can actually “love the difficulties of this world for the sake of eternal rewards”.

So we do have the right to defend ourselves from unjust laws, seeking to overturn them and to show our persecutors why we must do as we do, and try to convince them of the truth of what we say. But when it comes to the choice between serving God, or serving ourselves, we must serve God and avoid evil.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bellwether of Persecution

I thought this was america

bellwether |ˈbelˌweT͟Hərnounthe leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck.• an indicator or predictor of something: college campuses are often the bellwether of change

I remember my youth in school and what was taught to us about America. How we were a free country and that the government couldn’t do, or force us to do, bad things. We were told how people came to America to escape places that treated them unjustly. As I grew older, I realized that this was a “rose colored glasses” view of things. That our country could and did wrong over the past 200 years. But throughout my transition from growth to adulthood, it was still recognized that the Declaration of Independence was still meaningful when it said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We were told that the Bill of Rights were essential rights to all people and that our Founding Fathers were determined to protect the people from the abuses from a government, acknowledging that there were certain things that the government had no right to do.

Right now, America has a system where laws which were based on this understanding are subject to being reviewed by courts that are free to throw out those laws which the judges happen to disagree with. The term used is “finding the law unconstitutional,” but too often, this is a code word for an arbitrary decision that reflects the political views of the judges without concern with actual concern for justice or law. This is the case when a few judges have ruled that the understanding of marriage as being between one man and one woman is “unconstitutional.” Based on these rulings, people with religious beliefs that forbid them from participating in what they think is morally wrong can be forced to choose between their business and their beliefs—something the government had previously been seen as having no right to do.

Take a recent case of a Washington florist. The judge ruled that the florist’s religious beliefs, which forbade her from providing flowers to a same sex “wedding,” was illegal from the time that Washington legalized it. Think I’m using unreasonable rhetoric? Think again. Look at what the judge (Alexander C. Ekstrom) said:

"Stutzman is not a minister, nor is Arlene’s Flowers a religious organization when they sell flowers to the general public,” Ekstrom wrote. “Stutzman cannot comply with both the law and her faith if she continues to provide flowers for weddings as part of her duly licensed business.”

The judge has baldly stated what we have been warning of for years—that a person with religious convictions can be forced to choose between business and faith (Stultzman has decided to stop doing any weddings).  Basically, what we have is this: if a law is passed defending our religious freedoms, it is ruled as unconstitutional. When a law is passed which infringes on our religious liberties, it is seen as acceptable and those who invoke their first amendment freedoms are told that it doesn’t apply—the courts continually reducing who has religious freedom to the point that a church itself can (thus far) be protected from government interference, but the institutions that church runs or the individual practitioner is not.

Decisions like this make much more chilling a recent event where lawmakers urged Archbishop Cordileone to change his policy insisting that teachers in Catholic institutions actually act—Catholic. With legal precedence like this, we can expect the judges to be more likely to side with the laws infringing on our religious freedoms. 

While such things are more benign than in other countries and other times in how they try to coerce compliance with religious beliefs they oppose, these rulings are in the same spirit as the persecutions of the past. Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints describes for us the case of St. Sadoth:

The second year of the persecution, king Sapor coming to Seleucia, Sadoth was apprehended, with several of his clergy, some ecclesiastics of the neighborhood, and certain monks and nuns belonging to his church, to the amount of one hundred and twenty-eight persons. They were thrown into dungeons, where, during five months’ confinement, they suffered incredible misery and torments. They were thrice called out, and put to the rack or question; their legs were straight bound with cords, which were drawn with so much violence, that their bones breaking, were heard to crack like sticks in a fagot. Amidst these tortures the officers cried out to them: “Adore the sun, and obey the king, if you would save your lives.” Sadoth answered in the name of all, that the sun was but a creature, the work of God, made for the use of mankind; that they would pay supreme adoration to none but the Creator of heaven and earth, and never be unfaithful to him; that it was indeed in their power to take away their lives, but that this would be the greatest favor they could do them; wherefore he conjured them not to spare them, or delay their execution. The officers said: “Obey! or know that your death is certain, and immediate.” The martyrs all cried out with one voice: “We shall not die, but live and reign eternally with God and his Son Jesus Christ. Wherefore inflict death as soon as you please; for we repeat it to you that we will not adore the sun, nor obey the unjust edicts.”

Whether the governments would have us worship the sun, burn incense to the emperor or give our acceptance of “same sex marriage,” we must not obey what is unjust or forces us to go against what God commands. It may only cause us overt persecution or it may cause us hardship, perhaps legal action, but we need to be prepared for being called on to make the choice—for God, or against God. It might not happen to you or personally, but Our Lord did warn us that we must accept this:

The World’s Hatred. 18 If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,* because they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’ (John 15:18-25)

And so, we must prepare for darker times, which continue to come faster than I expect. We must prepare to continue to carry out our mission. As Cardinal George said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” None of us want to die in prison, let alone the public square for the faith. But if it does happen by death or by lawsuit or by imprisonment, we must respond in love, blessing and praying for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44) and seeking to convert them. This is true, whether persecution comes from unjust judges interpreting unjust laws or whether it comes at the hands of fanatics like ISIS.

Friday, December 5, 2014

TFTD: So Now They Change their Demands and Target the Church Directly


So, first they told us that while the Church had to tolerate what she thought was wrong in institutions affiliated with her and in businesses run by individual Catholics, but she at least had the right to determine who had the right to work or the Church directly.  But the article, "Investigation expected after gay choir director fired from Catholic church files complaint | WGN-TV,” shows us that now the Church can be targeted for legal retribution when she takes action against a member of a Church liturgical ministry acts in public rejection of Church moral teaching.

In this case, the music minister announced publicly that he was going to be taking part in a so-called “same sex marriage.” This is to make a public rejection of the Church teaching on marriage, and if the Church gives the impression she is indifferent to such behavior, it causes scandal because people might wrongly think the Church believes it is morally acceptable.

So, in response to this decision, the parish terminated his employment. Now he has filed a “discrimination” complaint against the Church.

The Church makes a distinction between reaching out to the sinner (which she must do) and accepting sin as good (which she must not do). When a person sins in his or her private life, the response is usually to reach out quietly to the sinner with the aim of bringing them to salvation. I’m sure there are people who work directly for the Church who are guilty of even mortal sin. It is spiritually harmful for them to be in that state, and people who seek to work for the Church need to recognize that they are called to live a life of Christian witness and the living in sin mars that witness. But the Church tends to work with such people with the sacraments and spiritual direction, reminding them of the need to live the way God calls them to live.

But once the person openly and publicly flaunts their rejection of the Church teaching, that becomes a serious matter. The Church is forced into a situation that either requires them to take action or cause scandal by giving the appearance that it accepts evil acts as good. Because Mr. Collette publicly announced he would be taking part in a so-called “same sex marriage,” the Holy Family Parish and the Archdiocese of Chicago chose to act, rather than give the impression that the action was morally acceptable.

What this case boils down to is a case of the State determining what religious and moral beliefs can be valued. Whatever religious beliefs the state does not approve of it can use coercion to change. In this case, the coercion is the use of the EEOC laws and regulations, treating the Church as a secular business—believing that holding members of the Church who work directly for the Church cannot be terminated for openly violating the teachings of the Church.

But the whole concept of religious freedom is that the state can neither coerce support of a state religion, nor force a religious institution to do what it believes to be morally wrong. So, if the EEOC is allowed to take action forbidding the Church from insisting her employees comply with Church teaching, or at least not publicly flaunt defiance of it, the result will be that the state is allowed to decide which religious beliefs can be enforced.

We’re in for darker times here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Facing the Persecution

It's no secret that it's open season on Christians that dare to publicly affirm their beliefs in Christian moral values... particularly when it comes to moral values concerning sexuality. Dare to affirm your beliefs in public and you run the risk of being fired (or "encouraged" to resign), sued or prosecuted depending on the circumstances of your behavior. Never mind the fact that the Bill of Rights was designed to protect Americans from that threat. Our beliefs are classified as intolerance and therefore those who disagree don't have to tolerate us.  Which brings us to the question of what we are to do about it.

No, this isn't going to be a post about preparing bunkers and stocking up on firearms. I figure that if society collapses, I'm likely one of the weak who get eliminated quickly by the mobs. How could I advise you on this?

Nor is this going to be a post about the need to overthrow the government. Yes, our government is terribly unjust and corrupt at this time, favoring those they like and harassing those who disagree with them. But so long as we have some freedoms left, let us use them to reach out to those people of good will. Remember, St. Justin Martyr didn't call for the overthrow of the Roman Empire.  He wrote to the Emperor (Antonius Pius) appealing to his reputation for justice.  It took almost 300 years before Christians could practice their faith without legal harassment or persecution... and Christians still spread the faith without seeking to overthrow the government.

What this is about is encouraging every Christian to begin preparing for the fact that we may be challenged to deny aspects of our faith and do evil to protect our lives or our freedom. We may not have time to hide or to evade a question forcing us to choose between our freedom and our faith.

Because we believe God is almighty and creator of everything visible and invisible, we cannot accept the State as having the right to change the natural law on what is moral. We believe God is all powerful and all good. What He decrees is not arbitrary.  It then follows He decrees what is good because it reflects His own goodness.

Now, for the Catholic, we believe that because Jesus is God and that He gave the Church His authority to bind and to loose and to teach in His name (see Matt 16:18-19, Matt 18:18 and Matt 28:20). Because we believe this, we cannot accept any encroachment from the State onto the authority of what the Church can or cannot say.

Thus, we need to prepare ourselves by remembering what we believe. Those who hate us and try to both force our beliefs out of public life and force us to contradict our beliefs when we are in public may have power, but we must remain faithful to our Savior and witness to the truth about Him as God's way of reaching out to those who hate us.

Religious Freedom and Mozilla

News has been brought to my attention about the latest attack on the freedom to do as we ought. The current CEO of Mozilla (Eich) was found to have made a donation to the defense of marriage in California (Proposition 8).  Because of his acting on what he believed to be right, the Firefox browser was blocked from accessing a certain site, and people who used Firefox were told they should use a different browser. The Mozilla company apologized for this action, and affirmed its support for "gay marriage."

Apparently this is irrelevant to the activists. They want him fired for his personal beliefs, and I have just been informed he resigned today.

Now, let's consider this. A man who believes marriage is between a man and a woman and personally donated $1000 for Prop 8 lost his job for doing what he believed right.

Consider the ramifications of this. Any one of us might also lose our jobs simply because we stand by the belief that marriage is created by God as a union between one man and one woman. That is what Christ Himself has said in Matthew 19:4-7...

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

So, regardless of whether you're a TV celebrity (remember Duck Dynasty?) an owner of a Bed and Breakfast, a photography studio owner or a baker, taking actions in keeping with your faith can get you sued, fired or prosecuted.  A friend of mine wrote:

In serious honesty, I think that this [affects] me directly. If I want to move up in my own organization, is my progress now capped by past donation to organizations which support traditional marriage or oppose abortion? How far will this eventually extend? This is no longer about what a company itself supports - though the persecution [of] businesses fortheir beliefs has been bad enough - but now about what you believe andsupport as a private person with your personal money.

My friend's concern is quite valid. With the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy saying, "The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.", it does not bode well for the person expecting justice from the courts.

Now some people may feel indifferent about this issue. Perhaps you disagree with Catholic teaching. Perhaps you just don't think it important. Either way, consider this. If we can get fired, sued or prosecuted because someone dislikes our beliefs, you too can get fired, sued or prosecuted for your beliefs if the wind shifts and goes against you.

It is only in standing with us that you can oppose people targeting you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Attacks on the Church Escalate

In an extremely perverse move, the ACLU is suing the Catholic bishops on the grounds that their directives on following the Church teaching on abortion endangers the life/health of women.

Think about it. They're not suing a hospital for discharging a woman who still needed medical care. They're suing the Catholic bishops for teaching that a Catholic institution has to operate according to Catholic moral principles, and if they will not, they cannot call themselves a Catholic institution.

The case still needs to be watched. More details are needed to determine precisely what resolution the plaintiff wants.

However, the Catholic Church knowing direct abortion is never permissible cannot comply with any demand that she permit her hospitals to perform them.  Since we must choose to suffer evil rather than commit it, the Church may face unjust consequences for refusing to obey an unjust judicial decree.

More and more Lincoln's words, which I have cited over the years seem prophetic:

As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it, "All men are created equal, except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, "All men are created equal except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some other country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Hypocritical because Americs claims to be a nation which respects freedom and liberty but is perfectly willing to interfere with Constitutional rights which belong to groups unpopular with the political and media elites.

This is a time to pray for our nation, that it may repent of its injustice, and pray for our bishops, that they will not falter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Modern Morality Leads to Tyranny (Part 2 of 2)

Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church.

—GK Chesterton


Before considering the last three steps, we should briefly discuss some of the principles of the thinking of the modern morality, that will explain the unjust laws that come from the proponents of modern morality.

It tends to reject the ideas of the existence of truth as independent of circumstances.  Everything is relative to times and circumstances.  It also tends to hold a view that everything progresses for the better.  Because things are generally better in a material sense, it means things are better in a moral sense.  The "oppressive past" has been replaced with a "freer" present and must continue towards an even more "free" future.

Such a view holds that even if one disagrees with certain behaviors ("personally opposed but…"), it should still be permitted "if it doesn't harm anyone."

The result of this is it tends to reject any restrictions except the "harm towards others."  The proponents will most likely object to comparisons to totalitarian policies on these grounds, because the totalitarian regimes did harm others.  The problem is, these proponents don't always recognize that harm is done to others.  They tend to think of crude Nazi tactics and think that because other "inconveniences" are not at that level, it isn't harm.

Moreover, there is also a tendency to think that certain views are "oppressive" and people who think in such a way should not be protected when it comes to those views.

The problem is, there is a contradiction in all of these views.  If one should tolerate other views, then it follows that it should be applied to views they disagree with as well as views they agree with.  The person who believes there are moral absolutes ought to be tolerated without harassment.  Instead, because their views are called "oppressive" it is acceptable to deny protection under the law.  This is the contradiction that creates tyranny in a free society.

With this in mind, let us consider the final three steps.

The Fourth Step: Passing Laws With the Belief They Harm Nobody

Attempted murder? It's not like he killed someone. This is a clear violation of my client's civil rights.

—Slimy Lawyer, RoboCop (1987)

Once people are elected or appointed to political office, they take their belief in only opposing "harmful" things in legislation.  If they see no harm in legislation, then they tend to support it.  This is how we can see lawmakers support the HHS contraception mandate or legalized abortion.  Because the reduction of sex to pleasure is accepted as a given, the only harm they can see is the issue of unexpected pregnancy.  The result is the creation of laws which makes access to contraception and abortion easier.  It is only the challenges to this assumption that is viewed as harmful.

Under the same reduction of sex to pleasure, such politicians can see no difference between traditional marriage between a man and a woman and a "homosexual marriage" between two people of the same gender.  So laws supporting this so-called "gay marriage" are seen as good, and opposition seen as harmful.

The result of all this is to create a set of laws that claims to champion tolerance, but actually refuses to consider the input of those who think differently from the lawmaker.

The Fifth Step: Denying the Validity of Challenges to the Law

"Are you lost daddy?" I asked tenderly.
"Shut up," he explained.

—Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants (1920).

One of the more ironic arguments made by proponents of the modern morality is the claim that those who believe in moral absolutes are "forcing their beliefs on others."  It's ironic because these proponents are in fact the ones imposing their moral beliefs.  You may notice this with their mantras.  "Reproductive Freedom" for example.  Those who believe in moral absolutes are not supposed to push their beliefs on others, but the concept of "Reproductive Freedom" is invoked as if it were a moral absolute.

Thus the HHS contraception mandate is forced on people who believe it is wrong to give any support (moral or financial) to things they find immoral.  Because the concept of "Reproductive Freedom" is considered unquestionable, no challenge will be heard.

Like Step 2, the lawmakers try to explain away or deny the harm their law may do.  First they simply deny the validity of charges their laws do cause harm.  The unborn is denied human rights (Roe v. Wade was infamous here, arguing that since the Constitution referred to born persons, it meant unborn persons had no rights – an argument from silence.)  The reduction of marriage to a legally sanctioned sexual relationship is denied as a cause of damaging the traditional family as a source of the stability of society.  Studies that challenge this are rejected as "biased."

At the same time, however, it is argued that the harm they've denied can be justified for the greater good of the moral absolutes they deny.  Thus, even if the unborn is a person, the mother's "reproductive freedom" takes priority.  Whether or not "gay marriage" disrupts society, denying persons with homosexual tendencies the "right to marry" is making them second class citizens.

The problem is, these people claim that whatever does no harm to others should be permitted, but they make themselves both the prosecutor and judge as to what causes harm to others and whether those who are harmed actually matter.  Since this eliminates the right  to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (First Amendment), we can see this mindset goes well on the way to causing harm and becoming a tyranny.

The Sixth Step: Restricting the Rights of the Challenger

"They [The Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa] accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. This was a lie and we could not let them publish it."

PJ O'Rourke (quoting Sandinista official), Holidays in Hell

While in the Third Step, the proponent of the modern morality gets offended with those who challenge them, in the sixth step, the politician has the power to do something about it.  Because he or she believes that the challenger is guided by "harmful" motives (under the ad hominem attacks of "Homophobic" or "war on women" etc.) the politician can make laws that reduce the freedom of the challengers to speak out. 

Consider the Catholic Church speaking out on moral issues being accused of being partisan and being under threats to have tax exempt status revoked.  The Catholic Church has remained consistent on moral issues long before there was a United States of America, let alone a Democratic or Republican Party.

For example, in 1679, the Church condemned these propositions:

34. It is permitted to bring about an abortion before the animation of the foetus, lest the girl found pregnant be killed or defamed.

35. It seems probable that every foetus (as long as it is in the womb) lacks a rational soul and begins to have the same at the time that it is born; and consequently it will have to be said that no homicide is committed in any abortion.

Various Errors on Moral Subjects (II) [Condemned in a decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679]

From the year 1679.  That's not a typo.  Over 333 years ago, the Catholic Church condemned views being used today to justify abortion on the grounds that the unborn is not alive.

Moreover, in 1965 (8 years before the infamous Roe v. Wade), the Catholic Church condemned abortion in the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes:

For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. (#51)

To argue that the Catholic Church is behaving in a political manner in speaking against the same sins they condemned before such issues were political indicates a really dangerous situation: That a government may decide what sort of speech is politically motivated or not politically motivated and may coerce the Church from speaking on subjects it deems "political."

Under such conditions, the Church cannot be said to have freedom of religion if her teaching of all people can be labeled "hate speech" or "politically motivated" or if her beliefs may be set aside as "unimportant" when it goes against government laws.

But the Constitution explicitly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment.  Emphasis added).

So we can see that laws made which ignore the First Amendment are laws which support tyranny against the beliefs that the nation were founded on, that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" (Declaration of Independence).

The Founding Fathers broke away from England because of these violations of unalienable rights, but now the lawmakers and courts can ignore these rights in favor of their own ideology.


Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy.

—Abraham Lincoln, Response to a Pro-Slavery Friend

Lincoln was prophetic here.  In the name of freedom, we are seeing the denial of basic freedoms to those who believe in moral absolutes and the obligation to live rightly.  Our Church can be coerced.  People who live in accordance with her teachings can be sued for refusing to provide services they feel they would be doing evil to provide.

To defend ourselves against this injustice, we have to ask people of good will to consider the harm that is done when people with this mindset get elected.

Considering the belief that society inevitably improves over time, unless people with an opposing view are elected, it is something that invites injustice in the name of this progress.  The views which threaten what is seen as progress must be stopped by any means necessary.

The problem with this assumption is not all perceived progress is progress.  People of this generation might be surprised, but there was a time when democratic processes were considered outdated relics and it was fascism which was the way to progress.  As we have seen in history, this view of fascism was premature and did not reflect reality.  Indeed, the practitioners of fascism had few brakes to prevent bad ideas that were seen as beneficial by the fascists.

The view today of no moral absolutes is the same.  If there are no moral absolutes, and the progress of society is seen as advances and declines solely on whether it moves towards or against a certain ideology, then there are very few restrictions against those politicians who feel threatened by challenges to their "defense of progress."

It is no hyperbole to say that this mindset, turned into law by politicians are heading into tyranny as the Founding Fathers understood it:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. (Declaration of Independence)

The question is what we are to do about it?

It may sound partisan, but quite simply, we need to consider this sort of mindset as one which disqualifies a person for government office.  A politician who believes that there are no moral absolutes and believes it is his views that must be followed to bring progress to the nation is more likely to push through laws they see as right without considering other perspectives.

A Politician who will not see harm done or seeks to explain harm away cannot be trusted to hear the grievances of those wronged and give redress.  The Politician who believes their opponents are obstacles is more likely to restrict people who disagree than people who believe there are moral absolutes which forbid them from doing wrong in the name of a cause.

In short, we need to elect men and women of character, who recognize that the government has no authority to mandate things beyond them.  When Obama was asked, "At what point does a baby get human rights in your view" (8/18/08), he replied:

"Well, I think that you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective. Answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something that obviously the country wrestles with. "

That kind of answer should be a disqualification to the voter of good will.  A politician who cannot answer the question on when a baby has human rights – and prove the truth of his answer should not be making a decision that abortion should be permitted.  We need to elect and appoint men and women who know they are limited and prone to evil and must answer to a morality above and beyond them. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

TFTD: Reflections on an Anti-Catholic Commercial

Propaganda on TV

Today, while watching the History Channel, I came across a rather offensive commercial from a group called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation."  It featured a fallen-away Catholic accusing the Bishops of distorting the issues by claiming it was a religious freedom issue.  She stated that it was an issue of power and the bishops were trying to impose their views on others.

Now I don't think that the FFRF believes what they say at all, but they hope to sway the uninformed to believing their propaganda.

What annoys me the most about this group's commercial is the brazen lack of reason and logic in their message.

The issue is, Catholic Bishops are speaking out saying the Government has no right to mandate that Catholic institutions or businesses do something they believe is contrary to what God demands.  Those who oppose the Catholic Church says they must obey the government mandate, except for a definition so narrow that it prevents the Catholic Church from carrying out the works of charity she performed far longer than the United States has existed.

Such Propaganda Justifies Whatever the Government Wants to Do

Think about it.  The Catholic bishops are accused of politicking and forcing views because they oppose government interference with Catholics doing what is right before God.

By such reasoning, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders would be guilty of forcing their views on Southerners because they dared to oppose an unjust law.

Catholics in the United States need to be aware that the cultural elites and the current Administration of the United States of America are making war on us and restricting our beliefs.

What are the ramifications of this Attack on Religious Freedom?

No, it isn't like persecution in China or fundamentalist Islamic nations – and probably won't be unless Americans allow the government to get away with this over a long period of time.  But they are calling us bigots, homophobes, etc.  They are attempting to force us to yield to government policy.  So Americans of good will need to ask themselves something.

How far will you let the government go when we refuse to comply with Government attempts to force us to do evil?

It is not a polemical question.  Faithful Catholics are being forced to choose between God and State.  If we choose to obey God, the government will take legal action against us.  Fine our institutions certainly.  Perhaps we might begin to see them treat some of our hierarchy as disloyal later on.  Perhaps Catholic parents teaching their children the faith will be portrayed as being the same as racial extremists teaching their children propaganda?  Perhaps they'll decide children need to be protected from Catholic parents?

It's hard to speculate of course because it is difficult to assess the limits conscience places on the current administration and at what point people will say "Enough!"

A Warning to Americans of Good Will

Americans of good will do need to keep in mind that if the government is not stopped now, then any future government (whether Democratic, Republican or Third Party) can also use the power of government to coerce other people to do what they believe is wrong.

To borrow from Pastor Niemöller, they are coming now for us.  You may be silent because you are not Catholic or perhaps because you favor contraception coverage.  However, once you let the government come for us, there is nothing to prevent them from coming for any other group who holds a position they dislike.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Discrimination and Persecution against Religion in America

Preliminary Notes: Accident and Essence

Since I will use the terms below, I should very briefly explain them. Essence is what a thing is. A triangle has three sides and three interior angles which total 180°. If the shape has more or fewer sides than three or the interior angles do not equal 180°, then you do not have a triangle.

Accident are qualities a particular thing has but are irrelevant to the essence. I can have a green cardboard triangle. I can have a chromed sheet metal triangle, but the color or the materials do not make a thing a triangle.

In the issue of racism, properly speaking a human being is a human being regardless of gender, ethnicity or skin color. Gender, ethnicity or skin color are accidents of the essence of human being. Whether the person is male or female, dark or light, Asian or Caucasian is irrelevant to whether the person is a human being. So a person should not be treated as less than a person because of the accidents of appearance. Neither should they receive benefits on account of the accidents.


One attitude I have encountered over the years as American Law and Government becomes more hostile towards religion is the argument that since the treatment of religion in America is not like the treatment of religion in China or the former Soviet Union, it means the Church is not persecuted in America.

Thus when people speak out against the actions of the American government and use terms like "persecution" it is easy to be dismissive and say, "you're not persecuted… people aren't locking you up!"

The Fallacy of the accident

This is a metaphysical fallacy – The fallacy of the accident – which Peter Kreeft (See Socratic Logic 3e page 110) describes as either treating something accidental as something essential (for example, racism wrongly assumes the accident of skin color is essential in determining whether a person is to be treated as human) or treating something essential as accidental (such as denying that there is any difference between heterosexual coitus and homosexual sodomy since both can result in orgasm).

A common demonstration of the fallacy of the accident is:

  1. Cutting people with a knife is a crime.
  2. Surgeons cut people with knives.
  3. Surgeons are criminals.

(The accident of cutting people with knives depends on the essence of why a person is cutting you with a knife, to heal or to harm).

In our case, the argument that there is no persecution in America works this way:

  1. Communist China persecutes religion by imprisonment, torture and executions
  2. The United States does not imprison, torture or execute people on religious grounds
  3. Therefore the United States does not persecute people on religious grounds.

In this case, the accident of how persecution is carried out in Communist China (imprisonment, torture, execution) is confused for the essence of discrimination itself existing (the unequal treatment on the basis of religion).  Since the degree of persecution is greater in Communist China, a degree which is less is argued as not being persecution at all.

That would be like a triage nurse in the Emergency Room saying that because the patient's pain level is not at 10, the patient is not in pain.

Persecution and Discrimination Defined

To clarify issues, we ought to begin with the definition of Persecution and Discrimination

Persecute: 1. subject to prolonged hostility and ill-treatment. 2. persistently harass or annoy.

Discriminate: make an unjust distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age.

—Oxford English Dictionary

The two concepts are very similar.  The state discriminates when it treats one group of people less fairly than others because this group is different.  The state persecutes when it treats a group hostilely or harasses them.  Ill treatment can vary from unequal treatment under the law to active coercion.

In America, the Catholic Church can be said to be treated unequally under the law on the grounds that the First Amendment is ignored when it comes to State interference in compelling Church institutions to either act against their beliefs or else discontinue their services.  The political elites in America are treating those who act on religious convictions with hostility.  Our institutions have been ordered to act contrary to what they believe God requires of us and have needed to seek justice in the courts to try to protect ourselves from what the government has no right to do to begin with.

Lest anyone attempt a tu quoque and say we are hypocritical because we discriminate as well, we utterly deny the charge.  Catholic hospitals do not refuse to treat non-Catholics or sinners.  Catholic schools do not refuse to teach non-Catholics.  Catholic orphanages do not refuse to let non-Catholics adopt or refuse to take in non-Catholic orphans.

We merely insist that our institutions, being based in the Catholic faith, be allowed to carry out our mission according to the way we believe God calls on us to behave.  Those who come to a Catholic institution and insist on making us behave in a way we call sinful are not being discriminated against when we refuse.  Rather they are discriminating against us by trying to force us to act in a way we call sinful.

Now the state can make unjust decrees that it enforces through legal, physical or financial coercion.  However, such decrees are not binding laws in our eyes because the state has no authority to force us to do something that God forbids.


The degree to which the United States makes use of coercion to comply or face repercussions when it demands Catholic institutions to follow the Government commands may not be to the extreme of China or Afghanistan, but this does not mean that the coercion does not exist.  It does exist and it is unjust because even if one rejects our claims to be the Church established by Christ to teach with His authority, this coercion does violate the US Constitution.

To borrow from Pastor Niemöller, they are coming for us first.  You may not speak out because you are not Catholic.  However if one stays silent during these early and less extreme violations of our rights, you may find that eventually, "Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

After You, Malik

Sources: Pakistani Minister calls on Interpol and the Pope to condemn Florida Koran burning, Pakistani minister wants international action against Florida pastor who burned Qur'an

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik is calling for legal action to be taken against the Florida idiot pastor who burned a copy of the Koran.

Let's think about this.  On one hand, we have an individual bigot who burned a copy of the Koran.

On the other hand, we have a nation where Christians have been martyred recently.  A nation where Christians are sentenced to death for "Blasphemy."  A nation where churches are burned in disproportionate response.

Which is the more serious offense in the eyes of God?

Let Pakistan put an end to the barbarism done in that nation before attempting to treat this idiot's act as an international affront.

I do condemn Terry Jones' action, but lets have a sense of proportion here.  The burning of the Koran does not justify murder, arson, rioting or sentencing Christians to death.

If Jones' action is an outrage, then what do you call the actions in Pakistan, Minister Malik?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Milwaukee Canonical Judge Speaks On What NYT Ignored

Source: Catholic Anchor Online » Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy

With all the smears about the Milwaukee case, isn't it odd that nobody actually sought to contact the people who took part in the case to defrock Fr. Murphy?

I find this article interesting, as it makes more clear information which seemed muddled when taken out of context (learning that it was the Rota which had the competency to oversee the case prior to 2001 was new to me)

Fr. Thomas Brundage, who was the judge [In the sense of the canonical trial… not civil prosecution] in the case of Fr. Murphy has come forward to speak about his involvement in the case.  He describes his purpose in doing so:

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.

As I have found that the reporting on this issue has been inaccurate and poor in terms of the facts, I am also writing out of a sense of duty to the truth.

The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.

My intent in the following paragraphs is to accomplish the following:

To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;

To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;

To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;

To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.

I find it interesting to note that contrary to the claims of the NYT, Fr. Brundage considers that his own actions have been misquoted in this feeding frenzy of the media, and explicitly denies that the CDF had halted the case.  Let's look at what he says about the case.

Considering the Claims the Vatican Halted the Trial

The NYT had alleged that Fr. Murphy wrote to the Vatican and the Vatican stopped the trial.  Fr. Brundage contradicts this claim directly.

In the summer of 1998, I ordered Father Murphy to be present at a deposition at the chancery in Milwaukee. I received, soon after, a letter from his doctor that he was in frail health and could travel not more than 20 miles (Boulder Junction to Milwaukee would be about 276 miles). A week later, Father Murphy died of natural causes in a location about 100 miles from his home

So we see some falsehoods about the allegations that Fr. Murphy wrote to then Cardinal Ratzinger in January and then Ratzinger had the trial ended.  Fr. Brundage points out that in the summer of 1998, the deposition was scheduled, but Fr. Murphy's doctor said he could not travel more than 20 miles due to health… far too short a travel range to bring him to Milwaukee.

He also denies that it was the CDF that caused the trial to end.  Fr. Brundage says:

Additionally, in the documentation in a letter from Archbishop Weakland to then-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone on August 19, 1998, Archbishop Weakland stated that he had instructed me to abate the proceedings against Father Murphy. Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary. That process would have taken months if not longer.

Notice that it was Archbishop Weakland telling the CDF that he gave the order to Fr. Brundage to abate the trial.  Also that Fr. Brundage says that when Fr. Murphy died, he was still a defendant, and that Archbishop Weakland had not told him to abate the trial.  Indeed, if the archbishop had told him to abate the trial, he would have appealed to Rome.

This is quite damning for the NYT indeed.  So much for the accusation that now Pope Benedict XVI halted this.

NYT Wrongly Attributes Documents to Fr. Brundage

I find it significant that Fr. Brundage flat out denies that the documents attributed to him were written by him.  He writes:

With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me. Almost all of my quotes are from a document that can be found online with the correspondence between the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In an October 31, 1997 handwritten document, I am quoted as saying ‘odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number wise, and especially because these are physically challenged , vulnerable people. “ Also quoted is this: “Children were approached within the confessional where the question of circumcision began the solicitation.”

The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them. As a college freshman at the Marquette University School of Journalism, we were told to check, recheck, and triple check our quotes if necessary. I was never contacted by anyone on this document, written by an unknown source to me. Discerning truth takes time and it is apparent that the New York Times, the Associated Press and others did not take the time to get the facts correct. [Emphasis added]

I find it rather damning that the NYT never bothered to ask any questions of the person they cited as a source.  In most places, this would be considered negligence.  If the story is so badly flawed in facts, it casts doubts on the accuracy of the whole thing.  Combined with the rejection of the idea that the CDF prevented this, the NYT seems to be either guilty of gross incompetence or malicious intent.


The story is being denied by both Rome and those involved in America.  It seems we have a problematic scenario:

  1. Certain individuals, who oppose the Church and the Pope, have created a false story.
  2. Their news organizations, through neglect or through malice gave the ok for these stories to go forward.
  3. Numerous news organizations repeated the stories of this newspaper
  4. People with a hatred of the Church took advantage of this story to promote their personal agendas.

I don't doubt some will allege some huge Church conspiracy and that Fr. Brundage is lying.  However, this requires proof… something the NYT has yet to provide.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sinister: The Attempt By the State to Co-opt Religion

Sources: Army of the Lord? Obama Seeks Health Care Push From Pulpit - Political News -;;;

Seeking to bolster his health care plan in the rising objections from Catholic Bishops and other pro-life religious groups, who have pointed out that — despite White House claims — the Health Care reform is indeed a sanction for paying for abortions, fetal stem cell research and a denial for the rights of conscience; Obama has sought to reach out to certain groups of pastors and rabbis in order to push for support for his plan.

I find this to be rather chilling.  When a church speaks out against abortion and candidates who support it, it is labeled a violation of the separation of Church and State.  However, when Obama wants to bolster support for health care, it is suddenly all right for the state to enlist the churches to promote a partisan view.

The church which is the puppet for the state is putting man over God, and is an intrusion both against the freedom of religion, and a violation of the separation of Church and State so often invoked when religion speaks out against evil in the state.

If it is illegal for a church to say that a vote for a pro-abortion candidate is a sin, then it stands to follow that it must be similarly illegal for the state to seek to sway the churches in supporting a partisan political agenda.

The fact that it is set aside at the convenience of the government shows it is not the rule of law we live under, but the injustice of arbitrary enforcement of rules to benefit one’s allies and punish one’s opponents.

Without the just enforcement of the law with equality for all, we do not have a Republic where the rule of law is supreme, but a government of oligarchy (rule by a few self-interested men).  America is now ready for a government which sets aside the constitution at its own convenience and hides behind it when it wishes to justify its actions.

Under this action, we do not have pure despotism, but as Lincoln warned, despotism with the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Caesaropapism: Tyranny in America Has Come

Source: Belmont Abbey Head: Washington Instructed Officials to Pursue Discrimination Charges

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

—attributed to Martin Niemöller


Last week, I had written about the attack on Belmont Abbey College by the EEOC.  Today, Life Site News (LSN) writes about some interesting information revealed by the Charlotte division of the EEOC.  It seems that the decision to reopen the case did not originate at the local office, but was insisted on from Washington.

It seems that this could be linked to the denial of conscience protections from the Obama administration when it comes to religious run hospitals and individuals who oppose distributing abortifacent contraception and the like.

So here is the dilemma: To be obedient to the demands of the state, a religious institution must abandon its fidelity to the moral teachings of the religion it belongs to.

So, the question is, how did we allow ourselves to have our freedom of religion taken away from us?  How did Christians sacrifice their values to vote for a government which violates our First Amendment rights?

It seems that for now, believers are in a situation where they must either choose between their faith and their nation.  We will be called to choose between obeying the state and obeying God.  The answer we must choose of course is to serve God, rather than the state when the state demands of us to disobey God.

This may mean we will need to abandon things like Accreditation.  We probably will need to renounce the tax exempt status of the Church if this is to be used as a gag to prevent the Church from speaking out in America.

Belmont Abbey College has stated that they would rather close down than to abandon their fidelity to the Church.  This is the right attitude of course.  However, the problem is that it should not have to be in this position.  Nor should Christian doctors and pharmacists be forced to choose between arbitrary government edicts and their faith.  Again, Christian hospitals and orphanages should not be forced to choose between compromising their beliefs and closing their doors.

The fact that the current administration in Washington is forcing through its ideological agenda and demanding compliance with these laws indicates a profound disrespect for religion.  The so-called “wall of separation” between Church and State has been shown to be a one way barrier: religion is forbidden any access to the state, but the state may meddle in religion in any way they choose.

This is Caesaropapism: The state placing itself above the spiritual authority of the Church, and insisting that loyalty to the state take precedence over the obedience to the Church.

So what are we to do?

First of all, we must serve God rather than men.  If the state insists on something contrary to the will of God, we must be faithful to God rather than to men.  However, we must not behave as lawless ones.  Where a law is just before God, we are to show that we are faithful to doing what is right.  If we behave as rebels and the state punishes us for defying a just law, then what credit is it to us?

So even if the state forces us into a state where we must stand up against it, we must always do so in a way which is Christian, blessing those who curse us and loving those who hate us.