Monday, July 1, 2013

More on the Fortnight for Freedom

The homily I heard on Sunday, June 30, was given by a deacon. The USCCB would have beamed proudly as he talked about religious freedom! He told us that Jesus was preaching tolerance when he told the disciples not to "bring fire" down on that village – an act, he said, which sounded like American foreign policy for the last 20 or 30 years. Hmmm. Well, I’ve heard him discuss his own private views on former presidents, so I wasn’t surprised that he threw in this little barb.

The deacon also said we have to fight for our own religious freedom, and that we must also fight so that people of other faith communities have the same freedom to practice their faith...

[Crickets chirping]

As I said the other day, that’s why this whole “religious freedom” idea doesn’t work very well: it assumes that all religions are created equal, and it neglects to consider that people of different religions just might have conflicting ideas about what is right and just. In fact…they do have conflicting ideas. What do we do about that?

Gotta love hearing a
 dissident priest quoted
during the
Sunday homily...
But the liberal Catholics don’t like to talk about conflict. Instead, they focus on “love” (not true charity) and tolerance. Tolerance means “we love everyone and want everyone to be happy, so why should we impose our religious beliefs on anyone else?!” Conflict, division – those are very bad things. The mere implication that the Catholic faith holds the fullness of the Truth is not welcome in the same room as Tolerance. Such a view hurts other peoples’ feelings.

The deacon giving the homily also quoted Richard Rohr. Richard Rohr. Yes, that Richard Rohr, the dissident, new-age-y (and aging) priest who is a prime preacher of tolerance…and other…uh…stuff. The deacon spoke about the dangers of “dualism” – that really intolerant concept “where we think WE are RIGHT, and everyone else is WRONG”.  Horrible. Some people actually believe that there are moral absolutes!

The deacon quoted Richard Rohr’s “seven c’s of delusion”, a concept used by Rohr to teach that the “dualistic mind” compares, competes, conflicts, conspires, condemns, cancels out any contrary evidence, and crucifies with impunity. The tolerant people use these types of descriptors and this line of reasoning to crucify, condemn, and complain about those Latin-loving tradition-minded folks who would like to have a decent liturgy celebrated according to the mind of the Church every Sunday.

But let’s return to the issue of “religious freedom”. Even Protestants can see some problems with the way the US bishops are defining the question and waging the battle. See this blog post (which linked to mine – thanks!), where the author states:

…[T]he bishops’ understanding of religious liberty is a historical bait-and-switch. On the one hand, they invoke the founders of the U.S. (fine), but then on the other hand bring up the nation’s anti-Catholic Protestant past without identifying Protestants (smart move) but pinning the blame on government…

The author of that post also mentioned Pope Leo XIII, whose letter to Cardinal James Gibbons in 1899 on “Americanism” (Testem Benevolentiae) sounds like it could be written to Cardinal Timothy Dolan today. Pope Leo XIII wrote about his concern that

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.

Pretty prophetic, eh? That certainly came to pass more and more as time went on, and Pope Leo didn’t live to see the worst of it, obviously.

Our bishops are asking us to defend “religious freedom”, but they are not adequately defining what that freedom is. And besides, they are neglecting the Truth taught by the Catholic Church when they imply that “other faiths” should all have the same freedom. They have to take this stance, in a way, because it’s the only one that makes sense given what has transpired with regard to what passes for “defending the faith” over the last several decades.

Pope Leo’s letter to Cardinal Gibbons also noted that:

Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

Isn’t that essentially what has happened? It’s just not socially acceptable – or even acceptable in a homily, it seems! – to talk about the “hard teachings” of the Catholic faith, like the immorality of abortion, contraception, and homosexual behavior. The teachings have been watered down, to the point that teaching the truth offends not only non-Catholics, but a huge portion of self-identified Catholics as well.

And so now the bishops are defending “religious freedom”; in so doing, they continue to avoid those hard teachings. That’s a mistake. Pope Leo’s comment to Cardinal Gibbons speaks just as clearly and relevantly to our bishops today:

It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind.

Exactly. This is the Year of Faith, isn’t it? I don’t know why I’m not hearing more in my own diocese about the truths of the faith. I haven’t heard much about reading and understanding of the documents of Vatican II or the Catechism – two areas then-Pope Benedict XVI was encouraging when he introduced the Year of Faith. I’d hoped to hear something like this, which is Pope Leo XIII’s conclusion to his letter to Cardinal Gibbons…way back in 1899:

But the true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government, and she is catholic also. Since God has placed the center and foundation of unity in the chair of Blessed Peter, she is rightly called the Roman Church, for "where Peter is, there is the church." Wherefore, if anybody wishes to be considered a real Catholic, he ought to be able to say from his heart the selfsame words which Jerome addressed to Pope Damasus: "I, acknowledging no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with Your Holiness; that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosoever gathereth not with you, scattereth."

Instead, we’re stuck with a “Fornight for Freedom” that many seem to take as an ecumenical rather than Catholic statement, and which engenders homilies like the one I was subjected to on Sunday, where we’re exhorted to defend the rights of a-a-a-all religions.   
And if we were honest, we’d see that Louie Verrecchio makes perfect sense in his post “Fortnight Follies” (really, go read the whole thing – it is excellent!):

OK… Am I the only one wondering what the heck praying for the freedom of “people of all faiths” is supposed to accomplish? Think about what that prayer might look like:

Let us pray for the enemies of Holy Mother Church, that they may enjoy the freedom necessary to destroy her:

Dear Lord,
In Your inscrutable clemency, please move the hearts and minds of those who govern our fair land, that they may never draft laws that in any way dare to encumber the freedom of Wiccans, Muslims, Buddhists, heathens, heretics or practitioners of any of the other false religions that despise your Son, so that they may ever be guaranteed the freedom of expression necessary to lead souls away from You unto the eternal damnation of many.

Uh…. no thanks. I think I’ll politely decline the invitation.

I’m with you, Louie.


  1. I think it would be a good idea to tell the priest or deacon after mass what our thoughts are about homilies that are our of line. Was this in the diocese of Baker? I hope its wasn't a deacon on his way to ordination.


  2. Well, Bill, you're right; it would be a good idea to tell them our thoughts...if they were open to hearing them. This is in the parish where the priest sends my letters back unopened. I'm not exactly Miss Popular around here! This is a permanent deacon who has stated before that he doesn't agree with Church teaching on contraception, thinks the Church has it wrong about homosexuality, and that war and abortion are equal on the scale of moral depravity. Little hope of change here!

  3. Another traditionally Catholic alternative here:

  4. Very good -- I couldn't agree more -- how about a fortnight for Christ the King? Modernism has so infected the mind of Churchman that they don't even fully realize how far they are deviating from historic Catholicism.

  5. Yes - I like the idea of a fortnight for Christ the King!

  6. The bishops have become little more than a Diplomatic Corp. It is a dreadful reality. Too many bishops really seem very satisfied with this job description. They are tempted by the modern world.
    They could be helped greatly to defy these temptations if they
    tried. Which leaves me with one conclusion. Too many don't try.

  7. Knowing the parish where you attended Mass yesterday it is, of course, a waste of time to expect anything orthodox unless and until the current Rector moves or is moved and is replaced with something other than the current "can't we all just get along" guy. A good and orthodox Rector whose sole purpose is to save souls rather than be "loved by all" would quickly re-focus the Deacon or get rid of him. Whoever succeeds the current Rector will on a smaller scale face the same challenges as ABp Sample in Portland. It will not be any easy task. At present the Church which you reference, without naming it, has little (other than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) to distinguish it from any Protestant Church in town. CINOs make up the majority of the parishioners. That is sad, but true. I am a former parishioner driven off by the drivel that passes for meaningful liturgy and good homilies and I attend there now (when forced to by circumstances) just often enough to know that really nothing has changed since I opted to leave. I'm sure the truth, which the Rector goes out of his way to avoid and ignore, hurts---especially since throughout his years in the Priesthood the Rector has prided himself on "being loved by all" (his self-description). Not quite true.

  8. "Eight Good Reasons for being Catholic" at

  9. I have little use for "Catholic Updates" - there's a lot of misinformation in those little handouts. But certainly Rohr makes some good points there; too bad he prefaces them with an anti-Church teaching: the Church DOES still teach that there is no salvation outside the Church - Vatican II just muddied the water a bit. Maybe Rohr will see the light before it's too late and become truly Catholic again!

  10. Jay: There actually is an alternative to the USCCB's Fortnight...... Have you seen this?

  11. Elizabeth - yes - I've been noticing the various references to a fortnight for Christ the King. I think it's a great idea that really puts things in the proper perspective.

  12. I'm a little confused about your point here. I don't perceive anything about fortnight for freedom saying other faiths are "just as good as" Catholicism.

    It seems that we are merely banding together to assert our rights as Americans (i.e. this is political, not religious). We certainly wouldn't want anyone to come into the church by anything other than free will - would we?

    How would you go about pushing back, politically, against the forces of anti-religion, anti-life & pro-self indulgence?

    David - Fredericksburg, VA

  13. David, the whole thrust of the argument for religious freedom is that people have the right to practice the faith of their choice. But that's not even possible, because different faiths sometimes have conflicting beliefs. Cardinal Dolan has encouraged Muslims to stand up for their faith; well...the Muslim "faith" does teach forceful conversion. What if my "religion" says I should not be required to stop at a stop sign?!

    How would I push back? Well, the whole thing started over the HHS contraception mandate. I would start by re-asserting that artificial contraception is morally wrong, and that the objective immorality of contraception is the reason it violates my Catholic beliefs to force me to pay for it through taxes, etc. The bishops have a hard time mustering support for this position, though, because so many Catholics don't believe or follow the Church teaching on this issue.

  14. It seems to me we're taking a 2 pronged approach.

    The first - and most important - prong is telling the world how wrong contraception, abortion, abortifacients, and euthanasia are.

    The second prong is seeking immediate relief from being coerced into participating in these wrongs. Asserting our first amendment rights is how the second prong is being carried out.

    Under the first amendment, everyone is free to practice any (or no) religion - the GOVERNMENT has nothing to say to any of its citizens about it. I don't believe that the Church is saying that Islam is "just as good as" Catholicism. It is asserting that the government can't say which religion is best, or preferred. In my view, this is for the best (not the current situation that does NOT follow the first amendment, but the scenario where government actually DOES follow the first amendment) - every religion & atheism will have to speak to the people on the basis of truth & reason alone. No coercion will be permitted (the first amendment also precludes sharia, or any form of theocracy).

    However, the Church is not the government - we are free to proclaim the truth to the world.

    Now, there is a large part of the problem. The Pope is not the Church, the Cardinals are not the Church, the Bishops are not the Church, all the Priests and Deacons are not the Church - WE ALL are the Church. Therefore WE ALL are called to proclaim the truth to the world. Too many Catholics believe that's the Pope's, Bishops' and Priests' job - not the laity's.

    I suspect I'm just preaching to the choir here. How do we get so many of our fellow Catholics to understand how important the current struggles are?

    David - Fredericksburg, VA

  15. "The Pope is not the Church, the Cardinals are not the Church, the Bishops are not the Church, all the Priests and Deacons are not the Church - WE ALL are the Church. Therefore WE ALL are called to proclaim the truth to the world. Too many Catholics believe that's the Pope's, Bishops' and Priests' job - not the laity's."


    Technically speaking what you say is true. However, as Dr. Boyd has said many times on her blog, many (most?) Catholics have "issues" with many of the Church's teachings - especially on moral issues.

    Good grief, there is anecdotal evidence the majority of Catholics have no problem with same-sex "marriage", abortion or contraception! (to their utter shame)

    The *sole authority* for giving an authentic interpretation of Divine Revelation is the magisterium (CCC 85), *not* the laity.

    You say "The Pope is not the Church, the Cardinals are not the Church, the Bishops are not the Church,..." no, but they are the Christ given authority of the Church! (see Mt. 16:19, 18:15-18, 10:40, Lk. 10:16, 1 Tim. 3:15, Eph. 3:10)

    The above verses *may*, in one way, speak of the laity in *assisting* the magisterium. However, they are first and foremost speaking of the authoritative teaching office of *the Church* established by our Blessed Lord. (i.e. the magisterium - the Pope and the bishops in communion with him)

    You say, "WE ALL are the Church. Therefore WE ALL are called to proclaim the truth to the world." Amen! But, how many of the laity that *you* know will speak the *whole Truth* without compromising *one* issue of faith and morals? (see CCC 892, 1814, 2518, 2035-37)

    Let's face the unfortunate hard fact of the matter. We (Catholics) are *not* one as our Blessed Lord prayed for in the garden. (see John 17:21-23). Lord help us there are even those who are a part of the magisterium who want to compromise on any number of issues of faith and morals (how could they even be considered Catholic?).

    We live in a country/culture that from its inception was primarily protestant. With this unfortunate influence it is now primarily secular/relativist. (don't get me wrong, there are many fine protestant Christians who are doing the best to hold the line of faith - as best they know of it)

    The laity will never "proclaim the truth to the world" until they pick up their Bible and Catechism and say they believe *everything* in those books and will *never* compromise on issues of faith, morals, disciplines, and - most especially - the Sacred Liturgy.

    Until then, we Catholics are merely spinning wheels in the mud and first world countries like ours will soon cease to exist.

    God bless you, David.

    Catechist Kev

  16. If you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another [Gal 5:15].

    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. [Gal 5:22-23]

    Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. [Gal 6:9]

    Rejoice! Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. [2 Cor 13:11]

    Rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoice. Your kindness should be known to all. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, make your request known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ. [Phil 4:4-7]

    Be at peace among yourselves. Admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. Always seek what is good for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstance give thanks.[2 Thes 5:13-18]

  17. CK - thanks; good job!

    David, part of the problem is that our shepherds have failed to put the first prong into practice for the last 50 years. And we may "all" be the Church, but we are not all the leaders, the shepherds. The bishops and priests have been ordained to lead us, and it's time they step up to the job. The truly faithful laity need to step and defend and support and encourage the true shepherds to do what they are called and ordained to do. Dancing around the issue with a focus on religious freedom, with a cardinal telling Muslims to hold tight to their faith, isn't doing the trick.

  18. I was in no way denying the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium. I am speaking about the bizarre beliefs of so many Americans (alas, many of them Catholics).

    When I said we are the Church, I was strictly speaking about our duty - every last one of us - to speak the truth to the world. If all the bishops suddenly started vigorously advocating the true Catholic view to the world & the rest of us sat on our hands, little would change.

    When we speak out, we make people think. Sometimes we even convince them of the truth. We need to evangelize to those who are near and those who are far.

    David - Fredericksburg, VA

    1. Ah, very good and thank you, David.

      Appreciate your thoughts.


  19. fRED -

    Do you realize the entire letter to the Galatians was correcting their error in listening to the Judaizers that were, contrary to the authoritative teaching of Paul, trying to convince the Galatians that they had to become Jews in order to follow Christ?

    Paul was not speaking gently to the Galatians, he was criticizing the fighting going on within the church between those that remained faithful to his teaching and those that followed the Judiazers who "knew better."

    Now, who are the "Judaizers " in today's Church?

    David - Fredericksburg, VA


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