sexta-feira, 13 de abril de 2012

Brasil: Voto do Presidente do STF Aborto Anencéfalo (Belíssimo)

Bispos US preparam católicos para perseguição e martírio - A Statement on Religious Liberty

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty

A Statement on Religious Liberty

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.

Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations.

In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, was made the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome to receive the red hat. Speaking of the great progress the Catholic Church had made in the United States, he attributed it to the "civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic." Indeed, he made a bolder claim, namely that "in the genial atmosphere of liberty [the Church] blossoms like a rose."1

From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience. It is among the proudest boasts of the Church on these shores. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.

We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.

This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the "most cherished of American freedoms"—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops:
Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.2


Religious Liberty Under Attack—Concrete Examples

Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat? Sadly, it is. This is not a theological or legal dispute without real world consequences. Consider the following:
  • HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services has received wide attention and has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are "religious enough" to merit protection of their religious liberty. These features of the "preventive services" mandate amount to an unjust law. As Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, testified to Congress: "This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs."3
  • State immigration laws. Several states have recently passed laws that forbid what the government deems "harboring" of undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to those immigrants. Perhaps the most egregious of these is in Alabama, where the Catholic bishops, in cooperation with the Episcopal and Methodist bishops of Alabama, filed suit against the law:
    It is with sadness that we brought this legal action but with a deep sense that we, as people of faith, have no choice but to defend the right to the free exercise of religion granted to us as citizens of Alabama. . . . The law makes illegal the exercise of our Christian religion which we, as citizens of Alabama, have a right to follow. The law prohibits almost everything which would assist an undocumented immigrant or encourage an undocumented immigrant to live in Alabama. This new Alabama law makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptize, hear the confession of, celebrate the anointing of the sick with, or preach the word of God to, an undocumented immigrant. Nor can we encourage them to attend Mass or give them a ride to Mass. It is illegal to allow them to attend adult scripture study groups, or attend CCD or Sunday school classes. It is illegal for the clergy to counsel them in times of difficulty or in preparation for marriage. It is illegal for them to come to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings or other recovery groups at our churches.4
  • Altering Church structure and governance. In 2009, the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut Legislature proposed a bill that would have forced Catholic parishes to be restructured according to a congregational model, recalling the trusteeism controversy of the early nineteenth century, and prefiguring the federal government's attempts to redefine for the Church "religious minister" and "religious employer" in the years since.
  • Christian students on campus.In its over-100-year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Catholic foster care and adoption services. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the state of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services—by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
  • Discrimination against small church congregations. New York City enacted a rule that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and sixty other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for scores of other uses. While this would not frequently affect Catholic parishes, which generally own their own buildings, it would be devastating to many smaller congregations. It is a simple case of discrimination against religious believers.
  • Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Notwithstanding years of excellent performance by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require us to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not somehow lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. And yet a federal court in Massachusetts, turning religious liberty on its head, has since declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government somehow violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion.

Religious Liberty Is More Than Freedom of Worship

Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day, both here at home and overseas.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it. Religious believers are part of American civil society, which includes neighbors helping each other, community associations, fraternal service clubs, sports leagues, and youth groups. All these Americans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the government to do so. Restrictions on religious liberty are an attack on civil society and the American genius for voluntary associations.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued a statement about the administration's contraception and sterilization mandate that captured exactly the danger that we face:
Most troubling, is the Administration's underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its "religious" character and liberties. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration's ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization's religious principles. This is deeply disappointing.5
This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.

The Most Cherished of American Freedoms

In 1634, a mix of Catholic and Protestant settlers arrived at St. Clement's Island in Southern Maryland from England aboard the Ark and the Dove. They had come at the invitation of the Catholic Lord Baltimore, who had been granted Maryland by the Protestant King Charles I of England. While Catholics and Protestants were killing each other in Europe, Lord Baltimore imagined Maryland as a society where people of different faiths could live together peacefully. This vision was soon codified in Maryland's 1649 Act Concerning Religion (also called the "Toleration Act"), which was the first law in our nation's history to protect an individual's right to freedom of conscience.

Maryland's early history teaches us that, like any freedom, religious liberty requires constant vigilance and protection, or it will disappear. Maryland's experiment in religious toleration ended within a few decades. The colony was placed under royal control, and the Church of England became the established religion. Discriminatory laws, including the loss of political rights, were enacted against those who refused to conform. Catholic chapels were closed, and Catholics were restricted to practicing their faith in their homes. The Catholic community lived under these conditions until the American Revolution.

By the end of the 18th century, our nation's founders embraced freedom of religion as an essential condition of a free and democratic society. James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution, described conscience as "the most sacred of all property."6 He wrote that "the Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate."7 George Washington wrote that "the establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive that induced me to the field of battle."8 Thomas Jefferson assured the Ursuline Sisters—who had been serving a mostly non-Catholic population by running a hospital, an orphanage, and schools in Louisiana since 1727—that the principles of the Constitution were a "sure guarantee" that their ministry would be free "to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority."9

It is therefore fitting that when the Bill of Rights was ratified, religious freedom had the distinction of being the First Amendment. Religious liberty is indeed the first liberty. The First Amendment guarantees that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Recently, in a unanimous Supreme Court judgment affirming the importance of that first freedom, the Chief Justice of the United States explained that religious liberty is not just the first freedom for Americans; rather it is the first in the history of democratic freedom, tracing its origins back the first clauses of the Magna Carta of 1215 and beyond. In a telling example, Chief Justice Roberts illustrated our history of religious liberty in light of a Catholic issue decided upon by James Madison, who guided the Bill of Rights through Congress and is known as the architect of the First Amendment:
[In 1806] John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States, solicited the Executive's opinion on who should be appointed to direct the affairs of the Catholic Church in the territory newly acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. After consulting with President Jefferson, then-Secretary of State James Madison responded that the selection of church "functionaries" was an "entirely ecclesiastical" matter left to the Church's own judgment. The "scrupulous policy of the Constitution in guarding against a political interference with religious affairs," Madison explained, prevented the Government from rendering an opinion on the "selection of ecclesiastical individuals."10
That is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom. It is the first freedom because if we are not free in our conscience and our practice of religion, all other freedoms are fragile. If citizens are not free in their own consciences, how can they be free in relation to others, or to the state? If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be a land of the free, and a beacon of hope for the world.

Our Christian Teaching

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences, not only an appeal to the Constitution for America to honor its heritage of liberty.

In his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, "The goal of America is freedom." As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition:
I would agree with Saint Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all." Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.11
It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is "no law at all." It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.

The Christian church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.
As Catholics, we know that our history has shadows too in terms of religious liberty, when we did not extend to others the proper respect for this first freedom. But the teaching of the Church is absolutely clear about religious liberty:
The human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs … whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. . . . This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right.12
As Catholics, we are obliged to defend the right to religious liberty for ourselves and for others. We are happily joined in this by our fellow Christians and believers of other faiths.
A recent letter to President Obama from some sixty religious leaders, including Christians of many denominations and Jews, argued that "it is emphatically not only Catholics who deeply object to the requirement that health plans they purchase must provide coverage of contraceptives that include some that are abortifacients."13

More comprehensively, a theologically rich and politically prudent declaration from Evangelicals and Catholics Together made a powerful case for greater vigilance in defense of religious freedom, precisely as a united witness animated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.14 Their declaration makes it clear that as Christians of various traditions we object to a "naked public square," stripped of religious arguments and religious believers. We do not seek a "sacred public square" either, which gives special privileges and benefits to religious citizens. Rather, we seek a civil public square, where all citizens can make their contribution to the common good. At our best, we might call this an American public square.

The Lord Jesus came to liberate us from the dominion of sin. Political liberties are one part of that liberation, and religious liberty is the first of those liberties. Together with our fellow Christians, joined by our Jewish brethren, and in partnership with Americans of other religious traditions, we affirm that our faith requires us to defend the religious liberty granted us by God, and protected in our Constitution.

Martyrs Around the World

In this statement, as bishops of the United States, we are addressing ourselves to the situation we find here at home. At the same time, we are sadly aware that religious liberty in many other parts of the world is in much greater peril. Our obligation at home is to defend religious liberty robustly, but we cannot overlook the much graver plight that religious believers, most of them Christian, face around the world. The age of martyrdom has not passed. Assassinations, bombings of churches, torching of orphanages—these are only the most violent attacks Christians have suffered because of their faith in Jesus Christ. More systematic denials of basic human rights are found in the laws of several countries, and also in acts of persecution by adherents of other faiths.

If religious liberty is eroded here at home, American defense of religious liberty abroad is less credible. And one common threat, spanning both the international and domestic arenas, is the tendency to reduce the freedom of religion to the mere freedom of worship. Therefore, it is our task to strengthen religious liberty at home, in this and other respects, so that we might defend it more vigorously abroad. To that end, American foreign policy, as well as the vast international network of Catholic agencies, should make the promotion of religious liberty an ongoing and urgent priority.

"All the Energies the Catholic Community Can Muster"

What we ask is nothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be respected. We ask nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United States, which recognize that right, be respected.

In insisting that our liberties as Americans be respected, we know as bishops that what our Holy Father said is true. This work belongs to "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture."

As bishops we seek to bring the light of the Gospel to our public life, but the work of politics is properly that of committed and courageous lay Catholics. We exhort them to be both engaged and articulate in insisting that as Catholics and as Americans we do not have to choose between the two. There is an urgent need for the lay faithful, in cooperation with Christians, Jews, and others, to impress upon our elected representatives the importance of continued protection of religious liberty in a free society.

We address a particular word to those holding public office. It is your noble task to govern for the common good. It does not serve the common good to treat the good works of religious believers as a threat to our common life; to the contrary, they are essential to its proper functioning. It is also your task to protect and defend those fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. This ought not to be a partisan issue. The Constitution is not for Democrats or Republicans or Independents. It is for all of us, and a great nonpartisan effort should be led by our elected representatives to ensure that it remains so.

We recognize that a special responsibility belongs to those Catholics who are responsible for our impressive array of hospitals, clinics, universities, colleges, schools, adoption agencies, overseas development projects, and social service agencies that provide assistance to the poor, the hungry, immigrants, and those faced with crisis pregnancies. You do the work that the Gospel mandates that we do. It is you who may be forced to choose between the good works we do by faith, and fidelity to that faith itself. We encourage you to hold firm, to stand fast, and to insist upon what belongs to you by right as Catholics and Americans. Our country deserves the best we have to offer, including our resistance to violations of our first freedom.

To our priests, especially those who have responsibility for parishes, university chaplaincies, and high schools, we ask for a catechesis on religious liberty suited to the souls in your care. As bishops we can provide guidance to assist you, but the courage and zeal for this task cannot be obtained from another—it must be rooted in your own concern for your flock and nourished by the graces you received at your ordination.

Catechesis on religious liberty is not the work of priests alone. The Catholic Church in America is blessed with an immense number of writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers, and bloggers employing all the means of communications—both old and new media—to expound and teach the faith. They too have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom.

Finally to our brother bishops, let us exhort each other with fraternal charity to be bold, clear, and insistent in warning against threats to the rights of our people. Let us attempt to be the "conscience of the state," to use Rev. King's words. In the aftermath of the decision on contraceptive and sterilization mandates, many spoke out forcefully. As one example, the words of one of our most senior brothers, Cardinal Roger Mahony, thirty-five years a bishop and recently retired after twenty-five years as archbishop of Los Angeles, provide a model for us here: "I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today. This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic community can muster."15

A Fortnight for Freedom

In particular, we recommend to our brother bishops that we focus "all the energies the Catholic community can muster" in a special way this coming summer. As pastors of the flock, our privileged task is to lead the Christian faithful in prayer.
Both our civil year and liturgical year point us on various occasions to our heritage of freedom. This year, we propose a special "fortnight for freedom," in which bishops in their own dioceses might arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending our first freedom. Our Catholic institutions also could be encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, and indeed, all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom.

We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this "fortnight for freedom"—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

In addition to this summer's observance, we also urge that the Solemnity of Christ the King—a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty—be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.

To all our fellow Catholics, we urge an intensification of your prayers and fasting for a new birth of freedom in our beloved country. We invite you to join us in an urgent prayer for religious liberty.

Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Excerpts from The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, SJ, General Editor, copyright © 1966 by America Press, Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI, Ad limina address to bishops of the United States, January 19, 2012, copyright © 2012, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

The document Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty, was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved by the Administrative Committee of the USCCB at its March 2012 meeting as a statement of the Committee and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned.

Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins, JCD
General Secretary, USCCB

Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop-designate of Baltimore
Bishop Members
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia
Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta
Most Rev. John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul–Minneapolis
Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile
Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle
Most Rev. John O. Barres, Bishop of Allentown
Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of Brownsville
Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix
Most Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield, IL
Bishop Consultants
Most Rev. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Most Rev. Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of Stockton
Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, Bishop of Harrisburg
Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop of Des Moines
Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne–South Bend


  1. Cardinal James Gibbons, Address upon taking possession of Santa Maria in Trastevere, March 25, 1887.
  2. Benedict XVI, Ad limina address to bishops of the United States, January 19, 2012.
  3. Most Rev. William E. Lori, Chairman, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, Oral Testimony Before the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, February 28, 2012.
  4. Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile, August 1, 2011.
  5. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Statement, January 24, 2012.
  6. James Madison, "Property," March 29, 1792, in The Founding Fathers, eds. Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), accessed March 27, 2012. . . .
  7. James Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment," June 20, 1785, in The Founding Fathers, accessed March 27, 2012. . . .
  8. Michael Novak and Jana Novak, Washington's God, 2006.
  9. Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States (Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1950), 678.
  10. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 694, 703 (2012).
  11. Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963.
  12. Second Vatican Council, Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 2, in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter M. Abbott (New York: Guild Press, 1966).
  13. Letter from Leith Anderson et al. to President Obama, December 21, 2011 (available at . . ).
  14. Evangelicals and Catholics Together, "In Defense of Religious Freedom," First Things, March 2012.
  15. Cardinal Roger Mahony, "Federal Government Mandate for Contraceptive/Sterilization Coverage," Cardinal Roger Mahony Blogs L.A. (blog), January 20, 2012, . . .

US bishops launch major offensive to protect religious liberty


With a strong new statement on religious freedom, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a nationwide campaign to protect “our most cherished freedom.”

“It is the first freedom because if we are not free in our conscience and our practice of religion, all other freedoms are fragile,” explain the US bishops in their statement, entitled Our First, Most Cherished Freedom. The USCCB statement, lengthy and strongly worded, signals the beginning of a major drive by the hierarchy to alert Americans to current threats to religious liberty.

The USCCB statement, issued by the bishops’ new committee on religious liberty, reminds readers that an unjust law does not command obedience, thereby raising the implicit threat that the Catholic hierarchy might support civil disobedience. The bishops ask Catholics to join in a “fortnight for freedom” before July 4, praying for the nation and rallying support for religious liberty.

Although the American bishops have engaged in a highly publicized dispute with the Obama administration over the mandate to include contraceptive coverage in health-care plans, the USCCB statement is not limited to that topic. The bishops point also argue that religious freedom is currently jeopardized by state immigration laws, by drives to change the corporate structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes, by restrictions on campus religious groups, and by threats to close down Catholic social-service agencies that do not abide by intrusive new government regulations.

“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home,” the bishops argue, continuing:
It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day, both here at home and overseas.
What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it. Religious believers are part of American civil society, which includes neighbors helping each other, community associations, fraternal service clubs, sports leagues, and youth groups. All these Americans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the government to do so. Restrictions on religious liberty are an attack on civil society and the American genius for voluntary associations.
In a particularly strong passage, the bishops’ statement raises the possibility of Catholic resistance against laws that violate the rights of conscience:
It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.
Questioned by the National Catholic Register about that passage, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who heads the USCCB committee on religious liberty, said that the bishops “do not mean that we go to civil disobedience in the first instance.” Then he added: “But if a law is asking us to violate our conscience, then we could be faced with a Thomas More choice.” 

quarta-feira, 11 de abril de 2012

Cardinal Burke Clarifies: Employers Providing Contraceptives “Materially and Formally” Cooperating with Sin

April 9, 2012 — Catholic Action for Faith and Family announces a timely and insightful thirty minute interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke as he discusses critical matters of faith, religious liberty, and culpability in relation to the threatened government mandate for employers to provide free contraception, sterilization services, and abortion inducing drugs. Catholic Action Insight, a special program series hosted by Catholic Action founder and president, Thomas McKenna, will air on EWTN on April 11 at 2:30pm and on April 13 at 9:00pm EST.

“We were very blessed to be granted this interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke who,not only details the church teaching on contraception and the moral conflict for Catholic employers who provide contraceptive services to employees, but also provides education on the role of the Church in this time of governmental interference with the right to ‘freedom of religion’,” said Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family. Thomas and his film crew recently returned from Rome where the interview was conducted.

“Cardinal Burke stands in solidarity with U. S. Bishops and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in defense and advocacy for Church dogma while highlighting the critical role that the Bishops must play as shepherds to their flock,” McKenna added.
Catholic Action Insight has released the following excerpts from the interview:

Thomas McKenna: “It is beautiful to see how the Faithful has rallied behind the Hierarchy… How does your Eminence comment on the union of solidarity of our bishops?”

Cardinal Burke: “Yes, I have received emails and other communications from lay Faithful who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family.I admire very much the courage of the bishops. At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation.”

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic Employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be,in a sense, cooperating with the sin… the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation”because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”

This comment by one of the highest ranked American Cardinals is the clearest explanation to date on the issue of an employer’s culpability when providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug options in the insurance plans for employees. Cardinal Burke has illuminated with piercing clarity the controversial issue which has seen dissent from Church teaching on this matter among Catholic institutions and universities here in the United States. Cardinal Burke’s profound statements come at a critical time in this divisive debate over the legality and morality of forcing anyone to act against his own conscience.

Cardinal Burke issued a public statement of support for Catholics to sign the Stop the Birth Control Mandate Petition.

For more information on the entire interview and the additional times it can be seen on EWTN or to watch the full interview after it airs on EWTN please visit

terça-feira, 10 de abril de 2012

Don Divo Barsotti di fronte al Concilio Vaticano II

(di Cristina Siccardi su Messa in Latino del 05-04-2012) Nel fervido e provvidenziale dibattito in corso sul Concilio Vaticano II giunge a proposito la bella e chiara biografia scritta da padre Serafino Tognetti, Divo Barsotti. Il sacerdote, il mistico, il padre (San Paolo, pp. 405, € 29.00), utile strumento per comprendere da vicino la figura di un monaco che ha vissuto intensamente le aspettative e le cocenti delusioni di un evento che ha rivoluzionato l’operatività della Chiesa in maniera così profonda da alterare la trasmissione della Fede.

Quando venne annunciata l’apertura del Concilio Vaticano II (25 gennaio 1959), furono in molti a riporre grandi speranze nell’evento e fra questi il monaco don Divo Barsotti (1914-2006). Prima del Concilio stesso don Divo ebbe più volte modo di manifestare una certa insofferenza nei confronti di alcuni metodi della Chiesa, che considerava chiusi e rigidi.

Scrive padre Tognetti: «Il momento dell’apertura del Concilio ci rivela un duplice atteggiamento da parte di don Barsotti. Da una parte egli presentava l’evento conciliare ormai imminente come “un’occasione, forse la più grande che Dio abbia concesso all’umanità di oggi, per essere salvata”; dall’altra parte il Concilio potrebbe però rivelarsi “un’occasione per cui questa umanità, invece di essere salvata, potrebbe precipitare nel buio, nella tenebra, non dico in un’apostasia dichiarata, ma in uno scetticismo, in una tensione, in una disperazione che non potrebbe essere più lenita da una speranza che le venga da Cristo, che le venga dalla Chiesa, che è del Cristo la continuatrice, anzi la stessa presenza”. Questo timore di don Divo era motivato dalla percezione di un pericolo che egli scorse nascosto sotto i facili entusiasmi di molti: “Il pericolo di un Concilio che lascia le cose come le trova, anzi le peggiora. Perché ogni grazia di Dio è per sé ambigua: se l’anima non la riceve e non la fa fruttificare, quella grazia si trasforma per te in un motivo maggiore di condanna, di rovina e di morte”» (1).

Barsotti seguì con attenzione, apprensione e soprattutto con la preghiera lo svolgimento dei lavori conciliari. Condusse la Comunità dei Figli di Dio, da lui fondata nel 1947, a meditare i diversi documenti prodotti durante l’Assise. Una delle tematiche che maggiormente lo interessò e lo preoccupò fu quella relativa alla riforma liturgica:
«Il primo errore che dobbiamo evitare è pensare che la riforma liturgica abbia un carattere essenzialmente e primariamente pastorale. Oltre tutto, questo non potrebbe mai essere nella Liturgia. Ha anche un carattere pastorale, indubbiamente, ma prima ancora è preghiera. La prima cosa che si impone per me, se io voglio essere ministro della preghiera liturgica, è che io preghi e faccia pregare gli altri. […]. La preghiera liturgica dunque ci forma alla preghiera e forma il popolo alla preghiera soltanto in quanto fa pregare; se non facesse pregare, non formerebbe né alla Liturgia né alla preghiera. Ed ecco una cosa importante allora che dobbiamo evitare, che cioè queste riforme siano fatte come una “prima di teatro”, come uno spettacolo» (2).

Non passò molto tempo che gli auspici di una benefica rivitalità della Chiesa, promessa dal Concilio, si trasformò, invece, in un’acuta e dolorosa amarezza. Il monaco nato a Palaia (Pisa), ordinato sacerdote nel duomo di San Miniato il 18 luglio 1937, sentì in tutte le sue fibre la drammaticità della crisi della Chiesa sorta negli anni postconciliari. Percepì da vicino e con sgomento il clima di banalizzazione in cui era stato inserito l’annuncio cristiano, un clima che perdeva sempre più la dimensione soprannaturale per acquisire una comune prassi ecclesiale dai lineamenti sempre più umani e sociali. Il mondo era entrato nella Chiesa con le sue idee fuorvianti ed era quello il tempo della rivoluzione culturale del Sessantotto con le sue stravaganze e bizzarrie “di moda”, che voleva «mandare al macero le tradizioni» (3).

La presa di coscienza di ciò che era accaduto e stava accadendo, l’osservare le ferite che venivano inferte con prepotenza alla Chiesa, il verificare la secolarizzazione che, a valanga, investiva gli ambienti cattolici, il prendere atto che lo storicismo e l’antropocentrismo s’impossessavano della figura divina di Cristo e delle Sacre Scritture, travagliarono inesorabilmente i giorni di don Divo Barsotti, che si interrogò sul ruolo che lui doveva assumere… Continuò a favorire, all’interno della sua Comunità, una formazione solida e robusta per non cadere nella trappola del vago senso religioso, infatti: «Bisogna che agisca in tutta la Chiesa senza muovermi dal mio centro. Non debbono essere parole. È necessario che concretamente io partecipi a tutta la vita del mondo senza rifiutarmi, senza escludermi da alcuna attività: che io viva tutta la vita, culturale e religiosa, riformatrice e missionaria – eppure rimanga fisso in Dio» (4).

L’atteggiamento di don Divo di fronte al Concilio Vaticano II si sviluppa in tre fasi: le aspettative (prima), l’ascolto di ciò che veniva prodotto (durante), la valutazione dei frutti (dopo).  Risulta di grande importanza, dunque, conoscere il dipanarsi delle sue riflessioni maturate nel corso del tempo e che sono ben evidenziate ed esaminate nei suoi Diari e che padre Tognetti ha studiato in profondità.

Don Divo non è un “sospettabile” che odora di tradizionalismo, è un sacerdote che non può essere accusato di “pregiudizi” e preconcetti; egli è un monaco che elaborò e ruminò ipotesi, idee, applicazioni del Concilio Vaticano II, giungendo alle conclusioni che oggi in molti, ormai, vanno ragionando. Ed ecco che i teologi furono da lui considerati i grandi responsabili di ciò che era avvenuto nella Chiesa, nei Seminari, nelle facoltà universitarie:
«[…] le parole non generano più che nuove parole […]. Il Concilio di Trento ha nutrito la teologia per quattro secoli; del Vaticano II i teologi sembrano già stanchi dopo pochi anni dalla fine» (5).

Padre Tognetti, che ha vissuto a fianco di don Divo fin dalla giovinezza, potendo oggi testimoniare con vivezza un’esistenza imbevuta alla fonte del silenzio immerso nel trascendente, analizza come l’atteggiamento del fondatore della Comunità dei Figli di Dio si sia andato depurando sempre più da ogni semplicistico ottimismo  e, di contro, si sia fatto sempre più critico nei confronti dei cambiamenti introdotti nella Chiesa dal Concilio del XX secolo. Il suo fu un vero e proprio travaglio, sia intellettuale che spirituale. E proprio perché immenso fu il suo amore per la Chiesa più accesa e più detonante fu la sua angoscia.

Nelle pagine del Diario del 1967, quando erano trascorsi appena due anni dalla chiusura dell’Assise, egli esternò la sua critica sui documenti conciliari, che gli «sembrano attestare una sicurezza tutta umana più che una fermezza di fede» (6) e reagì con forza «contro la facile ubriacatura dei teologi acclamati al Concilio. Si trasferisce all’avvenimento la propria vittoria personale, un’orgogliosa soddisfazione che non ha nulla di evangelico» (7).

Molti teologi, infatti, si sentirono capicannonieri e l’eco della loro esultanza fu raccolta dall’editoria come dalla pubblicistica in genere, dalle facoltà teologiche come dai simposi. Don Divo, invece, come altri messi a tacere o isolati in un angolo, perché non portassero “scandalo” e non disturbassero la rivoluzione in corso, andava allarmandosi sempre più, non riconoscendo nella nuova impronta ecclesiale gli insegnamenti della Chiesa di sempre.

Si dimostrò infastidito dalla continua esaltazione del Concilio, una manifestazione che gli pareva essere frutto di «cattiva coscienza» (8) da parte di chi lo difendeva ad oltranza, ma: «Se è opera di Dio, non ha bisogno di essere difeso» (9). Era una volontà prepotente di chi rinfacciava alla Curia romana la propria vittoria e intanto per Barsotti – che guidò, su richiesta esplicita di Paolo VI,  gli esercizi spirituali alla stessa Curia, nella settimana dopo il mercoledì delle Ceneri del 1970 – l’Assise «forse perché ha voluto dir troppo, non ha detto molto»  (10).

Denunciò la precisa volontà dei Padri conciliari e dei Vescovi del postconcilio di non condannare l’errore, con la pretesa di rinnovare la Chiesa «quasi che il “loro” Concilio potesse essere il nuovo fondamento di tutto» (11). Parole che fanno rabbrividire, ma che testimoniano inequivocabilmente che davvero successe qualcosa di grave fra il 1962 e il 1965: far finta di niente equivarrebbe a non voler risolvere l’evidente crisi della Chiesa e della Fede ad essa correlata.

Barsotti, del quale l’autore della biografia ripercorre con acume tutti i passi della sua ricca esistenza, non rimase in silenzio, osservava e parlava, giungendo ad affermare cose che la Tradizione continua a ribadire, ovvero che nel Vaticano II «non sono stati impediti gli equivoci, l’ambiguità e soprattutto non è stata impedita la presunzione, non l’ambizione e il risentimento, non la superficialità e la volontà di un rinnovamento che voleva essere uno scardinamento, sradicamento della tradizione dogmatica, una diminuzione della tradizione spirituale» (12).

Non acquisì posizioni di rottura nei confronti del Magistero, ma esplicita e manifesta era la sua criticità e la sua grande sofferenza che riusciva a sublimare nella contemplazione e nel ritiro di una vita monastica assorta in Dio, nella insistente ricerca delle virtù della perfezione cristiana. Ed ecco l’inseguimento della santità, amata e desiderata: senza la santità, per questo monaco tuffato nello Spirito, che meditava scrivendo e scrivendo meditava, la religiosità “moderna” era fatta soltanto di parole vuote e vane, come chiaramente espresse nella sua opera Battesimo di fuoco: «Sono perplesso nei riguardi del Concilio medesimo: la pletora di documenti, la loro lunghezza, spesso il loro linguaggio, mi fanno paura. […] Ma soprattutto mi indigna il comportamento dei teologi. Crederò loro quando li vedrò veramente bruciati, consumati dallo zelo per la salvezza del mondo. […] Tutto il resto è retorica. Soltanto la santità salva la Chiesa. E i santi dove sono?» (13).
Cristina Siccardi
(1) S. Tognetti, Divo Barsotti. Il sacerdote, il mistico, il padre, San Paolo, Milano 2012, pp. 221-222.
(2) Ivi, p. 223.
(3) Ivi, p. 224.
(4) Ibidem.
(5) Ivi, p. 225
(6) Ivi, p. 226
(7) Ibidem.
(8) Ivi, p. 228.
(9) Ibidem.
(10) Ivi, p. 226.
(11) Ivi, p. 227.
(12) Ibidem.
(13) Ivi, p. 228.

Cardinal Dolan decries HHS mandate, weighs JFK church-state speech


Appearing on the television show “Face the Nation” on Easter Sunday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan decried the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
“We didn't ask for the fight but we're not going to back away from it,” Cardinal Dolan said. He added:
What I'd say is this: Yeah, I don't think religion should be too involved in politics but I also don't think the government and politics should be overly involved in the Church, and that's our problem here. You've got a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the Church that bothers me. So hear me say, hey, I'd like to back away from this, I got other things to worry about and bigger fish to fry than this. Our problem is the government is intruding into the--into the life of faith and in--in the Church that they shouldn't be doing. That's--that's our--our read on this.
The prelate also defended what he saw as the main thrust of John F. Kennedy’s famed 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Alliance, in which the presidential candidate said, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.”
At the same time, Cardinal Dolan explained why he sympathized with Senator Rick Santorum’s criticism of the Kennedy speech. (Santorum, referring to the speech, said, “I almost threw up … In my opinion it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square. And he threw faith under the bus in that speech.”)
Cardinal Dolan said:
I would cheer what John Kennedy said, he was right, and I would--I would find myself among those applauding that speech. That having been said, I would also say that Senator Santorum had a good point because, unfortunately, what John Kennedy said in September of 1960 to the Baptist Ministerial Alliance in Texas has been misinterpreted to mean that a separation of church and state also means a cleavage a wall between one's faith and one's political decisions, between one's--one's moral focus and between one-- the way one might act in the political sphere. I don't think John Kennedy meant that and as you know recent scholarship has shown that John Kennedy was very inspired by vision, by character, by virtue, let's call that faith, let's call that morals. So I don't think John Kennedy meant a cleavage between faith and politics. He did mean a wall between state and church, and I would applaud that one, but I would agree with Senator Santorum that unfortunately that has been misrepresented to mean that faith has no place in the public square. That, I would, with Senator Santorum say is a misinterpretation not only what Senator Kennedy meant but with what the American genius is all about.
Asked, “What is your greatest challenge now as a Catholic leader?” Cardinal Dolan replied:
Well, the greatest challenge is to--is to--in a way, it is the same as it was that first Easter Sunday morning, to try to show that God, religion, the Church is on the side of life and light and freedom and hope. That is what--that is the biggest challenge, that life-giving, liberating, ennobling, uplifting message of--of the Bible, of morality, of the Church, of Jesus, that's--that's our challenge, Bob, and in a world--I mean you are on the frontlines, you got to report bad news all the time, most of the time we want to cry when we see the news, because there is so much darkness and tragedy and sadness, so the greatest challenge I got is try to preach the good news and try to show that the light and life and promise of the Gospel always trumps the bad news that we hear all the time. There is a great religious challenge.

Familias apoyan a Obispo español que criticó estilo de vida gay

MADRID, 10 Abr. 12 / 12:05 am (ACI/EWTN Noticias).- El Congreso Mundial de Familias expresó su apoyo al Obispo de Alcalá de Henares (España), Mons. Juan Antonio Reig Plà, a quien han convertido en su blanco de ataques por cuestionar el estilo de vida homosexual, durante su homilía de la Misa de Viernes Santo.

En un comunicado, los organizadores del evento internacional, que se realizará a finales de mayo en Madrid (España), remarcaron que "no se puede eliminar la libertad de expresión de Mons. Reig como pretenden sectores radicales".

El Obispo de Alcalá de Henares criticó el Viernes Santo a quienes "piensan ya desde niño que tienen atracción hacia las personas de su mismo sexo y, a veces, para comprobarlo se corrompen y se prostituyen o van a clubes de hombres nocturnos. Os aseguro que encuentran el infierno".

Estas palabras motivaron la ira de los grupos contrarios a la familia, el colectivo gay y el Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), que se organizaron un evento cristianófobo de besos entre homosexuales en los exteriores de la Catedral de La Almudena en Madrid, así como ataques en diversos medios de prensa.

El Congreso Mundial de Familias remarcó que el Prelado "está en su perfecto derecho a expresar sus convicciones, por lo que los ataques llenos de insultos que ha recibido están fuera de todo sentido democrático y nada tienen que ver con un intercambio civilizado de pareceres".

"Para el Congreso Mundial de Familias es un orgullo contar con la presencia de monseñor Reig, pues su defensa de la familia natural siempre ha sido ejemplar", señalaron los organizadores del evento.

Sin embargo, en lo que algunos medios han visto como una forma de "desmarcarse" de lo dicho por Mons. Reig Plà, el Arzobispo de Barcelona, Cardenal Lluís Martínez Sistach, dijo que los homosexuales "son personas como las otras y merecen toda la dignidad y el respeto", evitando además emitir algún juicio de valor sobre el estilo de vida homosexual.

Por su parte, la plataforma ciudadana HazteOír ha organizado una recolección de firmas bajo el lema "Mons. Reig Plà sí me representa".

"El Obispo de Alcalá de Henares, Monseñor Reig Plà, está siendo atacado por haberse atrevido a hablar del pecado en la homilía del pasado Viernes Santo", señalan.

Los organizadores de la recolección de firmas indicaron que "Mons. Reig Plà habló de los pecados de nuestro tiempo, entre los que citó el adulterio, el aborto, los pecados de abuso que pueden cometer empresarios y trabajadores en sus relaciones laborales, el pecado de las drogas, del alcohol, los pecados de los sacerdotes que llevan una doble vida. Y mencionó también algunas conductas homosexuales pecaminosas".

Para firmar el mensaje de apoyo al Obispo de Alcalá de Henares puede ingresar aquí: 

Catholics urged to imitate St. Thomas More in contraception battle

.- Catholics should follow the example of St. Thomas More in their current conflict with the Obama administration, said Fr. Paul D. Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

More's faithful witness and willingness to sacrifice his life rather than violate his conscience “are instructive for us in this present crisis,” said Fr. Scalia, who serves as pastor of St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean, Va.

In an April 4 article for the Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper of Arlington, Fr. Scalia reflected on the life of St. Thomas More, the well-known 16th-century lawyer, author and martyr who served as the chancellor of England under King Henry VIII.

He observed that More was faced with a moral dilemma when the Catholic Church would not allow King Henry to divorce his wife, and the king responded by simply redefining the Church.
More could not support the king’s decision in good conscience and therefore resigned from public life. He did not voice his opposition to the king, but merely attempted to live as a private citizen in silence.

“But King Henry’s rebellion against the Church inevitably trampled on the conscience of individuals as well,” said Fr. Scalia, explaining that even though he had resigned from his position, More was commanded to take an oath affirming the king’s divorce.
When he refused to violate his conscience by taking the oath, he was imprisoned and then beheaded.

The years that followed were filled with persecution of Catholics, who were fined and imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
Fr. Scalia compared More’s struggle with the king to that of Catholics against a new U.S. mandate that will require private health insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of whether those providing the plans object to such coverage.
He said that the similarities between King Henry’s decree and the contraception mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “are striking and instructive.”

Just as King Henry redefined the Church in England, the Obama administration “seeks to do likewise in the United States” with its recent mandate, he said.
The administration and some Congressmen have even “lectured the bishops about what the Church should do or think.” In doing so, he explained, they have violated the Church’s right to self-governance of internal affairs.

Fr. Scalia also noted that just as King Henry’s actions affected both the Church as an institution and private individuals such as More, the contraception mandate threatens not only the rights of Church organizations but those of individual Catholic citizens, who will also be penalized if they do not obey the mandate.

Fr. Scalia advised that if history is repeating itself in the current persecution of the Church, the faithful must “deliberately choose to imitate” St. Thomas More’s witness. 

Catholic should reflect More’s “integrity and holiness of life,” he said, observing that the saint’s silence on the issue of the king’s divorce spoke volumes because he was known to be a man of integrity.

Although we currently “do not have the luxury of remaining silent,” we must still follow in More’s path of integrity, uniting our words and actions to present the truths of our faith, he said.

Fr. Scalia emphasized that Catholics should imitate More’s joy, which he maintained even in the midst of oppression. This joy may not always be externally visible, but should remain steadfast inside of us, because we know “that no suffering or persecution in this world can separate us from the love of Christ.”

Catholics should also imitate More’s patriotism, said Fr. Scalia, recalling More’s famous statement before his death, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

In the same way, he said, we will be good Americans by defending the First Amendment’s promises and “being devout Catholics first.”

segunda-feira, 9 de abril de 2012

Pilatos, el demócrata - por Juan Manuel de Prada

In XLSemanal  

En la condena del justo hay siempre algo que nos estremece, porque todos tenemos muy arraigada, casi podríamos decir que inscrita en los genes (aunque muchos traten de oscurecerla), una noción natural de la justicia; y si la conculcación de la justicia es siempre aborrecible, cuando sirve para condenar al inocente resulta aberrante. A quienes estudian leyes se les debería proponer el análisis del proceso a Jesús, en el que la injusticia adquiere una densidad rabiosa, pululante de irregularidades que lo convierten en una monstruosidad jurídica: el Sanedrín se reunió en el tiempo pascual, cosa que le estaba vedada; los testimonios contra Jesús fueron falsos y contradictorios; no hubo testigos de descargo, ni se permitió que el reo dispusiera de defensor; la sentencia del Sanedrín no fue precedida de la preceptiva votación; se celebraron dos sesiones en el mismo día, sin la interrupción legal establecida entre la audición y la sentencia; el sentenciado fue después enviado a la autoridad romana, que el Sanedrín no reconocía como legítima y que, además (como el propio Pilatos observa), no tenía jurisdicción sobre delitos religiosos; el delito de conspiración contra el César, que los miembros del Sanedrín promovieron después, no estaba penado con la crucifixión, a menos que hubiese mediado sedición armada, cosa que manifiestamente no hizo Jesús; y, en fin, dejando aparte otras irregularidades, el procurador romano lo mandó a la muerte sin pronunciar la sentencia oficial, cosa que un juez no puede hacer, pues es tanto como abdicar de su oficio.

Son solo algunas de las irregularidades que pueblan este proceso; y cualquiera de ellas bastaría para que se considerase nulo. Pero quizá lo que más nos conturba de este proceso oprobioso no sea la actitud furibunda o fanática de los miembros del Sanedrín, sino la cobarde y frívola del procurador Poncio Pilatos, que tras reconocer públicamente la inocencia del acusado («No encuentro culpa en él») lo manda sin embargo a la muerte, entregándolo para que lo crucifiquen, por miedo a la chusma. Analizando este pasaje evangélico, Hans Kelsen, el célebre teórico del Derecho y pope del positivismo jurídico, concluye que Pilatos se comporta como un perfecto demócrata, al menos en dos ocasiones. La primera, cuando en el interrogatorio primero que hace a Jesús, este le responde: «Todo el que es de la verdad escucha mi voz»; a lo que Pilatos replica con otra pregunta: «¿Qué es la verdad?». Para Kelsen, un demócrata debe guiarse por un necesario escepticismo; las indagaciones filosóficas o morales en torno a la verdad deben resultarle, pues, por completo ajenas. La segunda ocasión en la que Pilatos, a juicio de Kelsen, se comporta como un perfecto demócrata es cuando, ante la supuesta imposibilidad de determinar cuál es la verdad, se dirige a la multitud congregada ante el pretorio y le pregunta: «¿Qué he de hacer con Jesús?». A lo que la multitud responde, sedienta de sangre: «¡Crucifícalo! ¡Crucifícalo!». Pilatos resuelve el proceso de forma plebiscitaria; y puesto que la mayoría determina que lo que debe hacerse con Jesús es crucificarlo, Pilatos acata ese parecer.

La exposición de Kelsen puede parecernos brutal, pero nadie podrá negar que, en efecto, Pilatos es un modelo de político demócrata: escéptico hasta la médula, considera inútil tratar de determinar cuál es la verdad; y, en consecuencia, somete a votación popular el destino de Jesús. Y esta es la encrucijada en la que se debaten las democracias: renunciando a emitir un juicio ético objetivo (renunciando, en definitiva, a establecer la verdad de las cosas), el criterio de la mayoría se erige en norma; y, de este modo, la norma ya nunca más obedecerá a la justicia, sino a las preferencias caprichosas o interesadas de dicha mayoría. Es una solución relativista que está gangrenando las democracias; y que, de no corregirse, acabará destruyéndolas desde dentro, que por lo demás es como han sucumbido siempre todas las organizaciones humanas que no han preservado un núcleo de nociones morales netas; y en las que, inevitablemente, el justo acaba siendo perseguido y condenado, como un criminal cualquiera, para regocijo de los auténticos criminales.

Pero Kelsen tenía razón: Pilatos es un perfecto demócrata; por lo que las democracias relativistas deberían alzarle monumentos en los parques públicos e instituir fiestas –con lavatorio de manos incluido– que celebren su memoria.