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Legal Persecution Print E-mail
By James V. Schall, S. J.   
Thursday, 22 September 2011

Catholics have little legal future in this country except as a narrow, strictly defined sect. Catholic law schools, lawyers, and politicians have proved mostly ineffective or indeed abettors in the process by which “human rights” are used, step by seemingly logical step, to eliminate Catholics from the public order. Much has already occurred. The “Catholics” who are the prime target are those who hold and live the central teachings of reason and faith. Those who do not, matter little.

Addressing a new Health and Human Services mandate concerning availability of abortions, contraceptives, and other such items, the Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, Barry Knestout, wrote:

In implementing the new health care reform law, HHS issued a rule that would require private health care plans nationwide to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. The mandate includes abortifacients, which have the capacity to terminate a pregnancy in early weeks. Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage.

The District of Columbia Human Rights Commission has interfered in the Catholic University of America’s policy of same-sex dorms for college students. This policy is “sex discrimination,” not permitted in the District. These and other governmental initiatives are only the beginning.

Almost everything is now in place for a full-scale legal persecution of the Church, all concocted under the aegis of government protection of “human rights.” The meaning of “rights” the government itself defines in the name of “freedom” and “equality.” It is noble-sounding, but as Plato said: “Entreaties of sovereigns are mixed with compulsion.” This admonition includes democratic sovereigns.

World News Daily (September 17) reports that PayPal investigates Christian Internet sources said to be involved in “hate language” because of their criticism of certain gay activities. Addressing this issue is not affirmation of a “right to speak,” but a subject of state investigation. Certain central teachings of Christianity will be legally prohibited as threats to “human rights.”

A situation analogous to that in China can be foreseen:  an “official” break-away church that follows government decrees and an underground church that still maintains the central truths of reason and faith. One suspects that the degree of hatred for the Church is more widespread and deeper than we like to admit. The situation, however, is not so different from what Scripture would have us expect.

Things change almost too rapidly for us to appreciate their scope. With legalized same-sex “marriages,” as they are equivocally called, in which children are adopted, we will have mandates to educate them in Catholic schools as if no problem exists. The children, legally deprived of a mother or a father, will be presented as from “normal” families. Several writers have suggested that parents teaching children that problems exist with homosexual life or adoption will be investigated for “child abuse.”

The child-abuse cases themselves have shown how to undermine the financial stability of the Church. In addition to properly investigating malefactors, legal procedures have permitted lawyers to make enormous wealth from Church funds. Ironically, since most of these abuses were rooted in homosexuality, not pedophilia, the corporate Church on the one side is required to pay for the abuses and on the other is forbidden to say that anything is wrong with this form of life.

The legal undermining of the family as a favored, natural union of wife and husband is far advanced. Abortion is an established “right.” Few really care about the millions of human infants slaughtered. Opposition to this system is considered “inhuman” and, again ironically, “against women.” What is defined as “human” is now solely a matter of civil law. Relativism is the established religion of the realm, backed by force.

Unlike other churches, which have made their obeisance to the state on these questions, the Catholic Church is mostly isolated. It has been a “brilliant” display in making it so. This undermining man’s normal being has been carried out in the name of “human rights,” in the very language the Church has insisted on using in order to protect human life and family.

Bishop Knestout recommended sending e-mails to HHS to protest the imposition of these standards on Catholics by the federal government. The issue is really more massive. One wonders if the bishops should not be preparing people for much more positive and aggressive persecution of which the legal step is but the first.

Constitutional assurances of free speech, free exercise of religion, and limited government no longer carry much weight against entrenched “democratic” ideologies, something both John Paul II and Benedict XVI foresaw. Few of us like to think this way about America, no doubt. We recall the Polish bishops before 1939. But our “invasion” does not come from the outside. It comes from within our souls, as all disorders of polity do.


James V. Schall, S.J., a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. His most recent book is The Mind That Is Catholic.

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written by Martin Snigg, September 22, 2011
I feel like I'm doing my best for freedom of religion and speech. E.g. criminal police charge was brought against me for nothing other than silently holding little models of what we look like in the womb in the front of an abortuary.(They were dropped after multiple court appearances but intimidation was the intention) Abortion is the most important prop of the regime so . . .

Truth itself is criminalised. "Hate speech" (blasphemy laws) must needs be written limiting speech threatening to the legitimacy of our liberal regime. Well it's the way I'd do it after 1945 and 1989 if I desired to remain in power and refused the knowledge of Psalm 17.

Persecution is an absolute blessing and I'm grateful without seeking it. What actually demoralises me though, and I love our Bishops and respect their authority, is that episcope means "seeing" Luke 12:54-57, the episcopate should be closely following the Holy Father's lead and watching that it gets to individual parishes. How long must we wait for public rebuke of 'Catholics' in public life promoting abortion and contraception? How long must we wait for preaching against 'nice fornication'? Our 'teachers' say nothing (I know there are ways that include "... in all things charity") - our shepherds leave their flock floundering. They, despite this nod to charity, are not 'inclusive' at all and in the service of 'taking people where they are' exclude the orthodox and committed Catholics from whom tithes and vocations actually flow! Who are our shepherds really for?

If memory serves wasn't Athanasius vindicated against elite loving Arians?

Is it fair to say that silence in 2011 is a political act on the part of our Bishops? Fair to say it accelerates the assimilation of our faith into the cult of Caesar? Fair to imagine the conquered churches and Bishops of North Africa and the Middle East, the jewels of Christendom, silent not "seeing" before and after the Muslim conquest? It is fair to recall how many Bishops stood against Henry VIII? George Weigel " a remark of senior member of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, a man of deep learning, who has said privately, "I will die in my bed; my successor will die in prison; and his successor will die a martyr." Seems to me the really the only worthy thought left to us.

It is not all lament. Though I am very wearied. Mr Lawler's 'Advice for New Bishops' or Mr. Hitchcock's 'Conservative Bishops Liberal Results' are wonderful.

And the dire need for trenchant critques of the public philosophy we labour under are supplied by James Kalb. For the sake of charity. Our young ones after all are without the developed capacity to resist this mighty political force. I know the world is rapidly Christianising (Jenkins) and demography is the hardest of the social sciences, but we need these conceptual tools, we need the veil covering decrepit liberalism lifted.

Fr. Schall thank you.

Cardinal Oulleut your people are dying. Help us!
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written by Dave, September 22, 2011
Fr. Schall, your article is once again masterly and timely, and we are all deeply in your debt for your having called it as you so clearly see it. I am currently reading Benson's Lord of the World, which has been troubling both for the clarity of its writing and for its prescience. The President and the Secretary of State refer to "freedom of worship," not "freedom of religion," as our Constitution has it, and one is reminded that in Eastern bloc nations they had "freedom of worship," too. The Seven Deadly Sins have been elevated into the seven sacraments of the culture of death. Governor Cuomo in New York, Secretary Sibelius in Washington lead the latest onslaught against the Church and her rights, as putative Catholics, joined by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, among others. The hierarchy refuses to exercise established sanctions against politicians whose lives and actions harm the Church, the faithful, and the world, while urging the faithful to take up pen and protest. It is all a little too late -- a day late and a dollar short, at least. Be sure that HHS has been flooded with letters in support of the new ruling. Dare we hope that enough faithful Catholics, and faithful of other forms of Christianity, will take up the pen in order to forestall what now seems inevitable?

The writing on the wall is clear: "human rights" is the new religion, "toleration" is its Gospel, and relativism is its creed. Oppose relativism, insist on objective truth, and you are not tolerant or in favor of human rights. The sanctions against the Church and her faithful are just around the corner.

And so what are we faithful to do? First, we must continue to exercise our civil rights as long as we have them to exercise, giving voice to our principled opposition to these massive incursions into the rights of institutions and of individuals who oppose the coming new order. And the second is to deepen our life of prayer, plunge ourselves into the Gospel, and pray God we be equal to the times unfolding before us: we need to make use of the means the Church has always taught and placed at our disposal. The second point is the more important, for only through lives of deep prayer will we have the resources, spiritual and psychological, to face what appears to be coming our way.
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written by Ars Artium, September 22, 2011
The Church as scapegoat. This pattern is very far advanced. We have been warned that this will happen, that is true. But we are also assured that this attack will not result in defeat. I am waiting in trust. God does surprise us. May he do so now.
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written by Manfred, September 22, 2011
Thank you for your extremely accurate picture of the Church in America today. Do you recall the naifs at Vat. II and their desire to throw the windows of the Church open to the world? Freedom of worship has formally replaced freedom of religion. Bear in mind that we were warned of this for decades and we also know that GOD IS ALLOWING IT. We are receiving His Divine punishment. We are paying the price of 53 million abortions of His creatures, unimaginable numbers of acts of contraception, failure to attend Mass weekly, acts of priestly predation of boys and young men. All are mortal sins and we are receiving the temporal punishment these acts trigger. See Abp. Dolan's letter to Obama (yesterday?) and it reads like a declaration of war, which, in fact, it HAS to be. Chuckleheads and effeminates to the rear, please.
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written by Jacob R, September 22, 2011
Yes what a wonderful country we live in: if you say that murdering babies is wrong you can go to jail, if you smother your two newborns, free counseling and help to overcome the patriarchal society that committed the real atrocity of making you too uncomfortable to murder your children in a clinical setting!
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written by Grump, September 22, 2011
Wish Orwell were around to write a sequel to 1984
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written by Yezhov, September 22, 2011
If past performance is any indicator, the bishops will remain clueless and leave us to fend for ourselves this time also.
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written by Dennis Larkin, September 22, 2011
Catholics are Vice President, Speaker of the House, and hold five of nine seats on the Supreme Court. Catechesis in this country has collapsed when the Church can be under assault while it's members hold such high offices.
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written by mghamberger, September 22, 2011
Thank you, Father Schall!
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written by Howard Kainz, September 22, 2011
"Catholics for Obama" helped bring about this situation in 2008. A change of administration in 2012 may help change the climate. Let's be optimistic.
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written by Fr. Bramwell, September 22, 2011
Superb!
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written by Fr. Bramwell, September 22, 2011
I should add: most priests that I know vote Democrat so the undermining is from within.
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written by Susan D, September 22, 2011
I work for a Catholic-sponsored health insurance company. We are preparing to comply with the HHS mandate. There is NO sign that the company is fighting back. I'm an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and I'm terribly distressed by my compnay's apparently ho-hum attitude toward this assault on religious liberty. It affects all orthodox Christians (small-o and capital O).
I don't know if there is a plan to fight back or not, but I've seen no evidence of it yet. I've already decided to resign if the company does comply with the HHS mandate. I don't think that I could in conscience work for an organization that goes against its own moral and ethical teaching.
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written by Bill McCormick, September 22, 2011
Father Schall is as usual beyond brilliant. And his argument resonates perfectly with that of the Holy Father's first address in Germany today:

Freedom requires a primordial link to a higher instance. The fact that there are values which are not absolutely open to manipulation is the true guarantee of our freedom. The man who feels a duty to truth and goodness will immediately agree with this: freedom develops only in responsibility to a greater good. Such a good exists only for all of us together; therefore I must always be concerned for my neighbours. Freedom cannot be lived in the absence of relationships
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written by Graham Combs, September 22, 2011
One can't read everything, but this is the first time I have encountered an acknowledgment of what has been going on for decades. I have spent much of my working life in the book industry where de facto religious and political tests are the norm in editorial offices and bookstores. But it was in my three years at City University of New York Law School from 1991-1994 that I realized exactly what loomed ahead for the Church. And I wasn't a Catholic at the time. By graduation I knew that the very integrity of the law was now at stake. I refused to buy a ring or attend graduation where, a friend told me, my name was booed and hissed when announced. I have probably written of this before. During a hypothetical in a health law course, I argued, based on the facts of the case, that abortion should not be the invariable default position of the parents, the healthcare institution, or the law. I was shouted down with "that's your opinion" for at least a minute while the instructor stood looking on, silent, her arms crossed. I knew there were one Catholic and one evangelical student in the room. They were also silent. As were those who I knew attended Federalist Socity meetings. Fear and intimidation begin in legal education -- in fact, it is the subtext of every class -- which has been co-opted, or more accurately, corrupted by deans, professors, lawyers, judges, and "student leaders." The dean of academic affairs who refused to call on me; or the professor and former Justice Department lawyer who did take my question and then stared at me in silence refusing to answer (the one time I picked up my notebook and texts and walked out of a lecture, unwilling to sit yet again in silence and humiliation). I would go so far in my reaction to this environment as to write an op-ed in the New York Times diplomatically describing the "intellectual" atmosphere in law school. I was essentially blacklisted. It is as hostile and bigoted as anything David Horowitz has described over the years. And now he, in his new book, acknowledges that the primary target of the left is God and His followers in churches and synagogues around the country. It is deliberate that Islam is exempted. The professor who taught contract law also gave "unofficial" lectures on sharia law. She would later be named one of "50 Women to Watch" in the Wall Street Journal and a "human rights" activists in China, her ancestral home. Feminism is about nothing if it is not about abortion. But won't Muslims be betrayed eventually when all others are marginalized? In spite of FIRE and the Alliance Defense Fund, it is lonely out here. I'm still not sure if the USCCB truly understands what is going on. Certainly some Catholic priests, bishops, and writers are aware. The example of committment and courage recently shown by Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, must become the norm. My first American ancestor was born in Jamestown in 1725. My roots are deep here, my affection great. The Founders after all invited a Catholic, Charles Carroll, to sign the Declaraton of Independence. They would be horrified no matter what they felt personally about the Church. As the Cuban father of Senate candidate for Texas, Ted Cruz, once said, when America is gone, where will we go to be free?

In 2008 I could think of no worse candidate for president than a law school professor (who taught his own version of constitutional law) -- his color was irrelevant. He has not disappointed and he his lack of respect for the Church has been unrestrained. That he could do this with the cooperation of priests, nuns, and Catholic institutions did not surprise me. Throughout the fall of 2008, as I began RCIA, I met Catholics and catechumens who supported Senator Obama and would brook no criticism of him. Some sort of crypto-racism was more than implied; never far from the surface of looks and conversation. And it would not be until Maunday Thursday before Easter Vigil that I would certain I would enter the Church. Something for which I cannot take credit.

Thank you so much Father Schall. Unlike the Jesuit priest at mass who scolded those of us who "overreacted to the health care bill," you represent the true spirit of the Society of Jesus.
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written by Thoms C. coleman, Jr., September 22, 2011
Pardon for simply rephrasing what all of us know. Doing nothing is not an option. First of all, our bishops MUST begin NOW to impliment Vatican directives on who may receive the Sacraments so that the most abortion and sodomy happy President cannot get away with calling proabort Catholics "committed Catholics." The Bishops must tell the presidents of so-called Catholic colleges if those institutions continue to defy the Church on critical matter. The Bishops MUST tell their pastors that they MAY NOT allow openly pro-abort, pro-sodomy parishoners to participate in ANY parish ministry, the very presence of such people people in those minstireis tells the congration that the Church does not really take seriously what it teaches. Many of who daily risk ostrocizing by freinds and family for reminding them what the Chruch teaches and have to listen to the misuse of the divine dictum hot to judge and are sickekend by such scandals as the the Ted Kennedy funeral which many Catholics regarded as proof that the Church now endorses relativism are waiting and praying for someone lay down the law. America and the Cathoic church in America were better off when, although a Catholic could not be elected president, ABP Sheen ruled his time slot on television.
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written by Bonzano, September 22, 2011
EXCELLENT ARTICLE.
Can anyone tell me the difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion?
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written by Leticia Velasquez, September 22, 2011
Mr Larkin, Fr Schall noted that Catholics who do not subscribe to Church teachings on morality (ie marriage, abortion) are of no consequence to the enemies of Catholicism. Catholics in high positions who mock our morality; like VP Joe Biden, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they are useful idiots for our enemies, providing cover when accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry are leveled.
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written by MaggieMcC, September 22, 2011
Three strong able Catholics are running for president: Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich. Let's put two in as Pres. and VP, another as Sec'y of State. Let us also sue for hate speech those who persecute the Church and its spokespeople. The law should be used FOR and not only against us....
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written by Aeneas, September 23, 2011
To Bonzano

Basically the difference is this:
Freedom of worship is a private affair
Freedom of Religion is public

That is why the soviet union was able to claim it had 'freedom of worship' and still persecute religion.
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written by Edward, September 23, 2011
I wouldn't vote for Rick Santorum if you put a gun to my head. He BETRAYED the Pro-Life movement in PA when he supported Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey in the Republican primaries many years ago.

We have a name for that kind of person.


TRAITOR!!!

Three times married Newt Gingrich???


Puuuuuuuuuuulease!!!!!!! Can't we get some real Catholics for a change????
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written by Stanley, September 23, 2011
It is common to think the de-culturalization in our country is a benefit to the mass media and politicians pushing a liberal agenda. The herd of the masses will follow. That we are doomed to go down the Chinese/Russian road.

The one positive note may be that the current vanguard, unlike a century ago, is as uneducated as the sheep they are leading. Their ideas and arguments so spurious as to be laughable.

Thanks to the likes of Fr. Schall, the ammunition is available.

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written by resh galuta, September 23, 2011
Isn't this just a bit overwrought? The desire to pose as a victim is understandable, considering how much mileage the self-designated "minorities" get out of the Cult of Self-Pity, but let's resist the temptation, shall we? The Catholic Church is still widely respected and admired. Most people express their disagreement with Church doctrine civilly. The media, for all their hostility, treat the Church cautiously.

There are no lions and this isn't the Colosseum. Knock off the whining. It's embarrassing.
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written by howeecarr, September 23, 2011
How many members of the US Supreme Court are Catholic? I'm as Right as the next person, but c'mon, to even suggest some future Catholic persecution in America is absurd, and paints Right-thinking people as paranoids.
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written by veritas, September 23, 2011
Don't people realize that ever since it was created in the late 60's the Bishops arrive at each USCCB Conference and are spoon fed position papers that reflect the skewed views of the 350 or permanent staff who after all live in "the belly of the beast" in DC and who are just like our Congressmen lobbied endlessly by the enemy? Would not the Church be better off if these Conferences were held only every 4 or even 10 years and these resources used to help Evangelize and in other similar useful ways? Would we not be better off if the only papers written were actually initiated and written ONLY by an individual Bishop and NEVER initiated or written by Anonymous staffers. This was the Catholic way for almost 2000 years.
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written by Micha Elyi, September 24, 2011
I'm still waiting for one bishop to ask each so-called "Catholic" hospital and medical practice in his diocese to begin drafting contingency shutdown plans for the day the government requires all health care providers to commit abortions.

Until that happens, the secularists and their collaborators will not take our bishops' protests (even if the bishops do start speaking louder and more sternly) seriously. The secularist camp considers Catholics to be pushovers. And so far they've been correct.
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written by Michael from NE, September 24, 2011
We are rapidly approaching a point where the Church in the USA should contemplate a total shutdown of social services. After the federal government it is the Catholic Church which provides the greatest number of social services in the United States. If suddenly all Catholic adoption agencies, all Catholic hospitals, all Catholic schools (including colleges and universities), all Catholic charitable institutions, in short, all Catholic institutions except those directly involved in the Church's liturgical and sacramental practices, were to suddenly no longer be there, might that work as a wake-up call to those in power that the Church is inextricably involved in the day-to-day operations of a "just" society. If the Church were to also bring into such a shutdown those charitable bodies in the more conservative Protestant denominations (I don't include the mainstream Protestant denominations - they ceased being Christian generations ago), if suddenly all those institutions ceased to function, there would be chaos, a chaos that would reflect adversely upon those who are doing what they can to eliminate Christian influences in the body politic and society at large. A more extreme action could also be considered, one that would involve every true Catholic (how many of those we see with us at Mass on Sundays, particularly those we see only on certain high feastdays - Christmas-Easter Catholics, or some variation of such, should properly be viewed as non-entities as far as the active Church is concerned?} in a truly life and death situation (spiritually), and that is an interdict, laid down by the Vicar of Christ himself, which would deny all sacramental activity in the United States until full freedom of conscience be recognized as a fundamental part of religious activity in this nation. The time is rapidly approaching when such actions may not only be contemplated, but actually mandated, if the Church is to continue its designated mission. And such a time may be much closer than we think. On so many fronts the Church is being challenged by the secularists, who encouraged by the secularist fellow-travelers in the administrative hierarchy of the Church in this country, think that now is the time to strike a mortal blow against the Bride of Christ in the USA (might we be tempted to describe it as a rape of the Bride of Christ?). The times are grave, as grave as at any time since the so-called Reformation, or, indeed as grave as any time since the persecutions of the Roman emperors. I'm not one of those fundamentalist Protestants who subscribe to all the latest fads and fancies regarding the End-Times, since we are admonished in Scripture not to speculate on such issues, but I will say that if we aren't actually entering into those times, we are once again entering into a rehearsal of those times.
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written by Staffan, September 24, 2011
The US is, one can say, two different countries. Abortion in 2005 according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute; highest and lowest states:
1. DC 49.9%
2. NY 38.8%
3. NJ 35.0%
4. MD 33.4%
...
49. UT 6.6%
50. KY 6.4%
51. WY 1.0%
(In New York, Bronx had 48.5% abortions.)

In Sweden, Kramfors had 40.1% abortions in 2010.
For Sweden as a whole, the figure was 2.6% in 1960. But then something happened, and in 1979 the figure was 26.4%. Nowadays, 25% is the norm. Every fourth little child is taken away.
Today as a ”Scandinavian” I am always in the minority, here in Norrköping…
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written by Marion (Mael Muire), September 25, 2011
What is written here is all very true as far as it goes. However, it is essential that faithful sons and daughters of the Church resist the temptation to engage in "Us vs. Them" thinking, setting themselves apart from The Other, who is the Enemy, as the Sons of Thunder did, when they asked the Lord, "Shall we call down destruction upon this village that did not hear us, Rabbi?" And Jesus rebuked them.


God is a merciful God, slow to anger, and of great kindness. He patiently awaits the conversion of sinners, and expects each of us to show mercy to sinners by speaking the truth, yes, and remaining firm in righteousness, yes, but always with patience, gentleness, and with humility - that is, with our hearts and minds fixed on the goodness of Our Father and on His love for all men, and not either on ourselves and how outraged we may feel, nor on "The Enemy" (meaning our fellow sinners) and how they have outraged us.


Why should we stand astonished and indignant that the world has rejected us, and that some of His former disciples have turned their backs on His Church? Should we expect to be treated in a manner different to the one meted out to The Master? Let us imitate Him, and His disciples after the Pentecost by girding our loins, taking our staff in hand, continuing boldly to proclaim the word, and keeping our eyes on the prize, running swiftly so as to gain the victory. No more pointing fingers, complaining, or venting like so many hissing kettles. We are warriors! We are men! (Even those of us who are women, are to have the hearts of men - Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastatia, Maria Goretti, pray for us!)
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written by Staffan, September 25, 2011
On page 175, World Almanac 2011 gives us the Number of Legal Abortions in the US 1970-2006. Maximum is at 1990 (1,429,247), but from 1998 the figure is below a million; down to 820,000 in 2005.
Notes for these years : ’Without estimates for California, New Hampshire' and other states.

Below is a table ’Reported Abortions by Age, Race and Marital Status 2006’.
Note: Excludes CA, LA and NH that did not report data, and 13 states/areas (AZ, CT, DC, FL, IL, MA, NE, NV, NM, RI, UT, WA, WY) for which race by age was not reported.

You see, abortion figures are not very important.
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written by Michael, September 25, 2011
Father Schall thank you for your trenchant analysis, proclamation, and call to all Catholics to awake from our secular unholy slumber. As Father Robert Barron has suggested, perhaps the darkest era in the Church, from its founding in the U.S. to the mid 20th century was the civil persecution it suffered from various political anti-Catholic factions and parties, as well as the attendant burning of parish churches and convents. Our forbears were no stranger to this persecution and endured, organized, and overcame with faith, hope, and love in the Church and the Holy Trinity in the face of terrible, personal and political tragedy. As their progeny, we have foolishly squandered their hard won spiritual capital like selfish trust fund babies. We must throw off our assumed, primarily temporal identity as catholic Americans and penitently put out into the deep, as Blessed Pope John Paul II exhorted, and become what we are, american Catholics. Father Robert Barron, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, once trenchantly quoted a Yale co-religionist /theologian Stanley Hauerwas who intoned, “That we who worship a crucified God, have become mainstream, is the tragedy.”
Certainly the clerical sexual abuse scandal dwarfs the external persecution of the 18th and 19th centuries, both because it was from within instead of without, and because of the heinous nature of the sin. However, again as Father Barron heralds: Jesus Christ the incarnate God/man, the apostles, the faithful laity and the resulting Roman secular persecutions; the faithful theologian / Church fathers / faithful bishops in the face of 4th and 5th century heretics and schismatics; the 5th century monastic revival in the face of the collapse of secular civilization; the flowering of the medieval mendicant orders in response to widespread clerical corruption; the outgrowth of the universities and medieval culture in its art, literature, and science with the attendant technological innovation and economic development of the Renaissance; the defensive military containment of the militant ambitions of the jihadist Islam of its time at Tours, Lepanto, and Vienna; the Catholic counter-Reformation; and the missionary evangelization in the New World simply CANNOT be reduced to the clerical sexual abuse scandal and the inept episcopal pastoral mishandling. Despite our marked and warranted lack of confidence we need to focus in on our own sloth as unfaithful laity: contraceptive use and divorce is as high in the Catholic laity as the secular culture of death, and I suspect the abortion correspondence isn't far behind (considering 53 million people have been murdered by abortion and easily another 53 million person's conception was contracepted from being; our 14 trillion dollar debt would be virtually nonexistent to take the least significant problem as an example). Much ink is spilled about the dirth of clerical vocations, but have we been encouraging our children to be faithful lawyer Catholics, faithful corporate executive Catholics, faithful venture capital Catholics, faithful journalist Catholics, faithful college professor Catholics, faithful school board Catholics, faithful Hollywood Catholics. If we want to change the world we have to look at ourselves and quit pointing the finger at the 1 pope, the 193 cardinals, 5100 bishops, and 410,593 priests. There are 1 BILLION Catholics worldwide. That is nearly 2,500 lay people to every one priest. Jesus set the world on fire with 12 apostles. I would wager that Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. would have given their left index finger to have a core group of 2,500 per leader. Martin Luther King Jr could call for as many boycotts and marches as he wanted but without a TURNOUT of the people: NO RESULTS. Gandhi could call for as many boycotts and marches as he wanted but without the TURNOUT of the people: NO RESULTS. WE are TOO complacent, TOO complicit, TOO relativistic, TOO self rationalizing, TOO materialistic, TOO disintegrated to point any fingers but at ourselves in the mirror.
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written by Stanley, September 26, 2011
What about the old "anti-science" approach. Is there anything more anti-science than pro-abortion stances?
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written by Ann, September 27, 2011
I always think about the Amish during these types of discussions. They live way outside the mainstream of society and have managed to keep their faith and ways. However, again, they live OUTSIDE of society, and they know that. They don't fight it, they don't clamor for political power. They stay quiet and only ask to be left alone. I do think things are going to change, and faithful Catholics will move into a more Amish-like place in our society. And this will include, as someone above mentioned, ceding all social services work to anyone outside the religion. But I am also optimistic that the general protections of freedom of religion will stay in place.
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written by Kevin O'Brien, September 27, 2011
Father, this is a brilliant post. I comment on it and expand upon it at my own blog: Theater of the Word Incorporated
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written by Margaret, September 27, 2011
But Ann-- Catholics have lived in cultures more hostile and repugnant than ours. Think Ancient Rome. Yet they never resorted to the Amish-type retreat from larger society. That's no way to be salt and light.
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written by Mark R, September 27, 2011
Yes. All this goes directly against Jesus' teaching that his followers were to receive special treatment.
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written by Marion (Mael Muire), September 28, 2011
"...I had to be prescribed a version of hormonal birth control pills as part of treatment for a particularly debilitating medical problem. So I'm not allowed to have them covered because the Catholic Church says so."

For the price of a root touch-up at the salon, Nora, you could have paid for your own medication.

Why don't you pony up like a big girl and take care of your own private business without asking Mommy and Daddy (i.e., the taxpayers) to pay for it?

Anticipated Question from Nora: You're saying I might have to go around with dark roots because you don't want to pay for my medications?

Response from Marion: You're telling everyone else to be an adult. Why don't you walk the walk yourself and act like one?
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written by Marion (Mael Muire), September 28, 2011
There is a difference between insurance paying for pharmaceutical products that are prescribed to treat an actual injury or disease (such as the situation Nora described) vs., those that are prescribed on a purely *elective* basis, that is, not to treat or prevent any injury or disease, but because the patient believes they will improve his or her life. Examples of the latter would be elective cosmetic surgery, (a nose job, skin peels, spot liposuction) and elective birth control.

A burn victim who needs facial reconstructive surgery is not having *elective* cosmetic surgery like someone in Hollywood getting an eyebrow lift. In the case of someone with an actual injury or disease in the picture, few people would have a problem with the idea of health insurance paying for whatever is necessary to help the patient get their life back. Plastic surgery for accident victims to repair deformations to skin, cartilege, and bone, sure. Of course. Hormonal birth control to treat women with endometriosis that hasn't responded well to other methods of treatment, sure. Of course.

But in general, fertility in and of itself is not a disease or an injury, and there is no *medical reason* to suppress it. This is no a debate about whether all should pay for treatments sought for actual *medical reasons.* This is about whether all should pay for *purely elective* costs on the part of the patient, especially where a large segment of taxpayers have *moral reservations* about the use of these products being used for *purely elective* - not medically necessary - reasons.

You're injured, sick, or disabled? Catholics will be glad to help you out.

You want a chemical peel to brighten your skin? Great! You pay for it. You want liposuction? Pay for it. You want birth control pills - not to treat an ongoing medical problem for which a certain type of birth control pills represent the treatment of choice - but because they're the form of birth control you prefer? Fine. You pay for that, too.

It's called taking responsibility for your own personal choices.

You don't want the Church in your bedroom? Well, the Church doesn't want you in our pocketbooks.

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