Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Modern day comparisons to the era of Thomas More

Posted by: "John Keane" jmkeane63@hotmail.com   upmayo16

Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:56 pm (PDT)

Fr. Paul Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, implores Catholics to follow the example of St. Thomas More when defending their rights to religious liberty. The patron saint of the Arlington Diocese is St. Thomas More — a 16th-century writer, philosopher, lawyer, chancellor of England and martyr. This saint of the public square serves as an apt model for our diocese, so close to the nation’s capital, and apt as well for the Church’s current conflict with the administration. The crisis of his times, and his handling of it, are instructive for us in this present crisis.

St. Thomas More served as chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. He served the king well and enjoyed the royal favor until Henry decided to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon. The king’s decision about the marriage precipitated a larger conflict between the king and the Church, a conflict that would ultimately lead to England ’s separation from the Church. The Church opposed the divorce. So, to enforce his will, Henry simply redefined the Church in England . He effectively displaced the pope and made himself and his successors the “head of the Church in England .” Because he could not condone the king’s action, More resigned and retired from public life.

He did not voice his opposition but remained silent. He simply sought to live as a private citizen, not disturbing the king and not wanting to be disturbed. But King Henry’s rebellion against the Church inevitably trampled on the conscience of individuals as well. Thomas More would not be left in peace. He eventually was commanded to take an oath in support of the king’s decisions. For refusing that oath — for refusing, in short, to have his conscience forced — he was imprisoned and, convicted on the spurious charge of treason, was beheaded.

 In the years following, to be Catholic in England carried with it certain penalties. If you refused to go to Church of England services because you were of a different faith — most conspicuously, Roman Catholic — you would be fined or imprisoned. We do well to recall this history in light of the unjust Health and Human Services mandate handed down this Jan. 20. The similarities are striking and instructive. Just as in St. Thomas ’s day it was a moral issue that precipitated the larger crisis, so also in our day. The Church’s teaching on contraception is at the core of this crisis. We can — and should — say many thi ngs about this teaching. It is one of the most important, challenging and beautiful of the Church’s doctrines. But the teaching itself — as important as it is — really just occasions another, broader issue.

The crisis now before us between the bishops and the administration turns on the rights of the Church and the rights of man: the Church’s right of self-governance and the rights of individual conscience. Henry VIII redefined the Church in England . It is not too much to say that by the HHS mandate, the administration seeks to do likewise in the United States . Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York , asks the question: Can a government bureau define for us or any faith community what is ministry and how it can be exercised? Of course not. The Church has the right to define herself and not be told by outside authorities what does or does not define her work. And not only that, by certain statements, the administration and some members of Congress have, in effect, lectured the bishops about what the Church should do or think. By so doing, they have inserted themselves into the internal worki ngs of the Church. For example, they have observed that many if not most Catholic women use contraception at some point, and therefore we should not make an issue of the mandate. Unfortunately, their observation has some legitimacy: This has been one of the most neglected teachi ngs of the Church in the past 40 or so years.

 Sadly, there has been a great deal of confusion, division and sometimes disobedience regarding it. But these are issues for the Church herself to address. Such internal matters of the Church are certainly not the business of public authorities to lecture us on or, worse, to exploit for political purposes. All we ask is that the Church be allowed to be the Church — without any outside coercion regarding our identity, doctrine and ministry. We do not need government officials to tell us who we are, what we believe or what our ministry is. We know these thi ngs well. There is a second similarity between St. Thomas More’s crisis and our own. Henry VIII’s actions did not end with the Church as an institution. They extended to individuals, beginning with Thomas More in his retirement. So also this present crisis concerns not only the rights of the Church as an institution but also the right of every individual not to have his conscience forced. Since the mandate is imposed not only on Catholic institutions, but on all providers of employee health insurance, the individual Catholic as private citizen will suffer the injustice of this law. Just as Thomas More was not left unoppressed, neither will the individual Catholic be today. He too can be made to violate his conscience by conformity to this ruling.

Finally, there is a third parallel between our crisis and More’s. Just as Catholics were penalized in England , so also — as Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago , has speculated — the Church and individual Catholic employers may have to pay a fine for not obeying the mandate. In effect, a fee to be Catholic. Now, history tends to repeat itself. But it does not inevitably do so. If history is repeating itself in this persecution of the Church, then we must deliberately choose to imitate — to repeat — the witness of St. Thomas More. First, imitate his integrity and holiness of life. More chose not to speak out against the king but to retire as a private citizen. He remained silent. But his silence was deafening because he was — and was known to be — a good man, a man of integrity. His refusal to give vocal support for the king’s decision was, in effect, a condemnation. Now, we who do not have the luxury of remaining silent must nevertheless imitate his integrity and goodness.

If our words do not have the witness of our lives, then they will never gain a hearing. Second, imitate his joy. He was known for his humor and wit, even in the face of martyrdom. As he mounted the scaffold to be beheaded he asked the executioner for help up. “I won’t be needing help down,” he quipped. Perhaps that joy will not always be visible, as we do need to be firm and strong — at times even severe. But interiorly at least we should maintain the joy that comes from knowing that no suffering or persecution in this world can separate us from the love of Christ. Finally, we should imitate what we might call his patriotism. He famously said before his death, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” So also we show ourselves to be good Americans, good stewards of the First Amendment, by living what that amendment defends — by being devout Catholics first. May our prayers and actions give effective witness to our faith and preserve the rights our nation’s founders desired to defend

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Obama backs down from forced birth control/abortions

With the recent national collective voice that has caused the Obamites to put it the issue into reverse, I note they are now attempting to tell us there is a difference between this and Obamacare. However, discerning voters understand it is all part of their continuing attempt to divide us. They will push and push, forcing us to rise up collectively and continue to smite them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Maybe There Is a Catholic Vote

Maybe There IS a Catholic Vote!


JC Sullivan 

In a mandate that every U.S. employer must provide birth control, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs to their employees, free of charge, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, like the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, has awakened a sleeping giant – American Catholics. Not since Roe v Wade has there been such a firestorm in the American Catholic community regarding issues core to their moral beliefs and their rights of citizenship.  We believe the actions of the Obama administration are both unconstitutional and immoral.

In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a remarkable address to a group of visiting American bishops. He praised America’s founders for their commitment to religious liberty and their belief that Judeo-Christian moral teachings are essential to shaping citizens and democratic institutions. “The Holy Father warned that our heritage of religious freedom faces “grave threats” from the “radical secularism” of political and cultural opinion leaders who are “increasingly hostile to Christianity,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.  

In a letter to American Catholics, a portion which was obtained by Business Insider  reads “In so ruling, the Obama  Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.”

Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Army, obviously under the direction of the Obama White House, has now forbidden Catholic military chaplains from reading letters to parishioners from their respective Bishops. It is reported the Secretary of the Army fears any such letters could be viewed as a call for civil disobedience.

On January, 26, Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio emailed a letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and included as an insert in church bulletins that would be distributed from the back of chapels. The very next day chaplains were told by the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains that the letter was NOT to be read from the pulpit. The Archbishop is standing firm, based on legal case law, saying that such a directive from the army is a violation of the Constitution and the right of free speech and exercise of religion.

While the issues won’t be resolved until the U.S. Supreme Court decides, nonetheless, Catholic voters, and others, have been rightfully aroused and angered. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old by John E. McInerney

To one and all:

Every year, as part of the Pro-Life Breakfast the Ancient Order of Hibernians hosts on January 22nd before the Right to Life March, I usually give a talk or write an article, or both. This year it was held at the Irish Channel in Washington, DC. I wish to share my 2012 article with you.

Senator Kennedy on “the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old”

by John E. McInerney

Political flip-flops bounce around the political news these days during this 2012 election season. Words uttered or opinions expressed decades agocan be instantly quoted, sometimes to a politician’s embarrassment. 

The late Edward Kennedy’s 47 years in the US Senate brought him to top leadership positions and roles. Many times if Kennedy supported a piece of legislation, others who respected him often voted the same way Senator Kennedy voted. Known as a powerhouse and a leader, he earned the title of “lion of the 
Senate.” His support of an issue was often persuasive that it often carried the day. His opposition to an issue was often hard to counter.  

In the Senate when the issue of abortion came up for debate and discussion since 1973, Kennedy could be counted on to support the right of a woman to abort her unborn baby. Since Roe vs. Wade, he held that the Supreme Court ’s decision was the law of the land and we had an obligation to obey the 
law. This is the way many lawyers reason. Ted Kennedy was liberal.

However, traditionally at one time, liberals stood up for the rights and dignity of human beings. They believed in a just wage for work performed. However, they would work hard to cheat the hangman and the abortionist of their wages because of their respect for human dignity and life. Tragically, somewhere along the line the abortion lobby seized control of the Democratic Party. Today the issue is not even debatable or negotiable in the party’s platform. Democratic candidates and office holders must 
fall into step with the new doctrine of the Democratic Party if they want to be re-elected and move up in its leadership. Sadly, principle and listening to one’s conscience has taken a back seat for so many Catholic Democrats to the gospel proclaimed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice 

It came as a surprise to many others and me when a copy of a 1971 letter Senator Kennedy wrote on his pro-life views on abortion. Here is some of what Senator Edward Kennedy wrote to Thomas Dennelly of Great Neck, New York in his 1971 letter.  

“Dear Mr. Dennelly: 

”I appreciate your letter containing your views on abortion. There are many moral and legal aspects arising from this complex issue which is gaining the acceptance of large numbers of women faced with unwanted pregnancies, while disturbing the consciences of a great many other Americans.

”Opponents maintain that abortion is wrong from every theological, moral and medical aspect. Proponents are firmly convinced that the woman, alone, has the right to decide.

”While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain right which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

”On the question of the individual's freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely 
by desire.

”I share the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society's problems - an inadequate 
welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

”When history looks back on this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its 
responsibility to its children from the moment of conception.”

Edward M. Kennedy

In Kennedy’s letter he strongly affirmed the Catholic, pro-life conviction about the sanctity of unborn human life, from the time of conception. As an amateur historian I often ask the question of “what if” in history.”

What if Lincoln lived out his term after the Civil War? 
What if Theodore Roosevelt did not become president in 1901 as the result of 
What if President Kennedy did not visit Dallas in 1963?
What if the decision of Roe vs. Wade was never written in 1973?

In all of these cases history as we know it today would have changed – be it for the better or the
worse. We do not know but can only speculate. If Senator Kennedy continued to hold these pro-life convictions throughout his legislative career and eloquently speak out the fundamental pro-life 
message against abortion – we may not have the issue we are facing in these times in this nation. 

Tragically and unfortunately, Senator Kennedy abandoned this pro-life conviction in his subsequent legislative career. In fact he became the most prominent Catholic politician in America to dissent from 
the Church’s teachings and beliefs on abortion.  Being from the most prominent Catholic family in our nation, he gave an invitation to Governors Mario Cuomo and to many other Catholic legislators, governors and politicians to follow suit and abandon and ignore the fundamental teachings of our 
Catholic Faith. The very basic first principle of Christianity is life.

Kennedy’s flip-flop has its serious consequences on the value of human life in history today. Some segments of the Republican Party have followed Kennedy’s lead on the issue. If Kennedy had used his God-given talents to advocate protecting human life from conception, there would not have been an avalanche of Catholic elected officials following him. This created a serious scandal. 

Here in 2012, the Democratic Party is strongly pro-abortion while the Republican Party is staunchly pro-life. It is basically a question on who among us has the right to live and who does not have the right to live. When it comes down to it, both parties may disagree over philosophy, policy, issues, law, and programs. But if there were no life – none of us would be here today. Basically, both parties can and need to agree on the gift of life as something we all share in common while fully realizing that without life 
nothing would exist. By respecting life we can then discuss and argue the other issues. 

On the “what ifs” of history, surely Senator Kennedy’s original pro-life attitude and belief in 1971 would have had a great impact if he continued to eloquently speak out against abortion and in defense of human life. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling the impact President Kennedy’s brother could have had if he had stayed the course and proclaimed the pro-life message. 

Tragically, he did not stand up for the life and dignity of unborn infants. He did not stand up and speak out about the violence committed on unborn babies and women during abortions. Remember what Senator Kennedy wrote in1971 – “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to 
grow old.