Legal Persecution Print
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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