quinta-feira, 20 de junho de 2013

Obispos exhortan a uruguayos a buscar derogación del aborto

MONTEVIDEO, 20 Jun. 13 / 12:35 pm (ACI/EWTN Noticias).- La Conferencia Episcopal del Uruguay (CEU) dio a conocer una exhortación en la que solicitan a los fieles que apoyen la realización del referéndum para derogar la ley del aborto, expresando esta postura de manera explícita el próximo domingo 23 de junio.

A continuación, el texto completo de la exhortación de los prelados uruguayos:

1. Como dijimos en nuestra declaración del 13 de noviembre pasado: "Los derechos humanos y este primordial derecho a la vida no pueden quedar sujetos a mayorías circunstanciales de un cuerpo legislativo o electoral. Sin embargo, ante la situación que se ha creado, sigue siendo el deber de los laicos católicos y de los hombres y mujeres de buena voluntad aportar sus esfuerzos para procurar que nuestra legislación respete el derecho a la vida humana desde su concepción. Quedando en manos de los ciudadanos la elección de los medios que estimen oportunos, alentamos las iniciativas legítimas que busquen la derogación de esta ley."

2. Los uruguayos tenemos ahora la oportunidad de cambiar con nuestro voto el rumbo de las cosas y darle un sí a la vida de los niños, lo que nos permitirá mirar con esperanza nuestro futuro como nación.

3. El derecho a la vida no puede nunca ser objeto de un referéndum, desde el momento que proviene de Dios. Sin embargo, ante esta ley injusta, dado que nuestra Constitución prevé que los ciudadanos puedan expresar su voluntad de derogarla, exhortamos a votar el próximo domingo 23 de junio con el fin de que se habilite la convocatoria del referéndum sobre la ley que hoy permite el crimen del aborto.Los Obispos del Uruguay.

quarta-feira, 19 de junho de 2013

Entrevista ao Arcebispo Jean Laffitte, Secretário do C. P. para a Família, por Mons. Duarte da Cunha

Vida, Morte, Juízo, Inferno, Purgatório e Céu - por P. Jacinto Farias

Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom, Fundamentally At Odds - by Matthew J. Franck

In The Public Discourse

In recent essays here at Public Discourse, Mark Regnerus argued that same-sex marriage would harm marriage for everyone, and John Smoot argued that it would be bad for children in particular. Today I want to show the damage that redefining marriage does to religious freedom. At bottom, even the defense of religious liberty is a struggle over what is true and false about the meaning of marriage.

Should the truth about marriage—that it unites men and women so that children will have fathers and mothers—be defied by the laws of the land, we cannot expect the religious freedom of those who believe in that ancient truth to be respected under the new dominion of falsehood.

After all, if redefining marriage to include same-sex couples accords with justice and moral truth, there is no good reason for the new legal order to make room for “conscientious” religious dissenters, for clearly their consciences are malformed and unworthy of respect. Thus the fate of religious freedom, for scores of millions of Americans, stands or falls with the fate of conjugal marriage itself.

Some astute observers have noticed the dimensions of the problem and called attention to it. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a brief in both marriage cases now pending in the Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should not interfere with democratic legislative processes in this field, because only such processes can result in public policies that will prevent church-state conflict in the future. The brief describes many of the problems I will discuss below, but in the end I think it is too hopeful that same-sex marriage and religious freedom may be reconciled by lawmakers to any significantly greater extent than by judges.

Two groups of prominent religious liberty scholars (one led by Robin Fretwell Wilson, the other by Douglas Laycock) have written letters (such as this one from Wilson’s group) to state legislators and governors considering same-sex marriage bills, imploring them to include various statutory provisions that would afford some protection to religious freedom. Both groups have signally failed to achieve much, if any, meaningful accommodation of religious freedom in the recent legislative enactments of same-sex marriage in New York, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

The victorious legislators either do not see the conflict, don’t care about it, or actually welcome its arrival, relishing the further victories yet to come over the “bigotry” of religious dissenters. The last of these possibilities may be the likeliest, as Robert P. George suggested nearly a year ago here at Public Discourse. If so, our situation is dire indeed.

The “Wedding Day” Is Not the Real Issue

A great show is sometimes made in legislatures of how generously the advocates of same-sex marriage are willing to treat their adversaries, by assuring them that no Orthodox rabbis or synagogues, and no Catholic priests or parish churches, will ever be dragooned into giving their blessing to same-sex unions under the name of marriage. This sort of statutory “exemption” has become routine.

But the exemption is pointless because it is already accomplished by the First Amendment. No one thinks that any state could constitutionally coerce dissenting ministers, imams, rabbis, or priests into presiding over same-sex wedding ceremonies, or commandeer their sacred places of worship for such ceremonies.

Yet by pretending that such fears are in some way valid or genuine, same-sex marriage advocates keep the focus on them, cultivate the impression that their adversaries are worried about this matter and practically nothing else, and then declare that they have “compromised” in some full and fair way with the only real concerns on the other side by offering redundant legislative assurances. Every single state (as well as the District of Columbia) that has enacted same-sex marriage through its legislature has play-acted this dumbshow.

No state, on the other hand, has credited or accommodated the religiously grounded objections of other private actors—professionals or small business owners—to being dragooned into offering their services on the wedding day to same-sex couples. There are several well-known cases of bakers, photographers—even a religious nonprofit property owner—facing grave legal jeopardy for their refusal to offer their services or facilities in contradiction of their felt obligations to witness to the truth about marriage as it is taught by their faith.

When the above-mentioned religious liberty scholars have pleaded for accommodation of such persons and groups, they have gotten exactly nowhere. It seems that for same-sex marriage proponents, the religious freedom of saying “no” to same-sex weddings belongs only to “religious organizations,” not to similarly situated religious persons, despite the obviously personal character of the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion.

But the deepest conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious freedom will not occur on the day that couples tie the knot.

When the Honeymoon Is Over

Churches and other religious organizations are major employers. They operate schools, universities, hospitals, hospices, and clinics; social service agencies, retirement homes, eldercare and childcare facilities, food pantries, and soup kitchens; and other charitable ministries of every kind. They employ teachers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, counselors and clinicians, caregivers, food-service workers, housekeeping and grounds staff, even pool lifeguards. These religious ministries typically present themselves as equal opportunity employers, and they mean it.

Can they continue to do so in the redefined-marriage legal regime? If a church ministry hires someone in a same-sex marriage, or employs someone who enters such a marriage; or if it declines to hire such a person, or treats him or her adversely if already employed—in any of these scenarios there is trouble ahead, if federal, state, or local employment law considers it wrongful discrimination to treat persons in same-sex marriages differently from men and women in marriages.

The “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination law, affirmed 9-0 by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna-Tabor case in January 2012, will be no protection at all, since there is no way to shoehorn all these roles and functions into that exceptions category, no matter how broadly “minister” is defined. But to date, there is no state that has seen fit to accommodate the religious conscience even of avowedly religious ministries in this respect, let alone the consciences of religious persons doing business in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

Or consider public accommodations law, which can cover equal access to healthcare services, marriage and family counseling, daycare, adoption services, as well as religious schools and universities that are open to taking students of every faith or none at all. Churches and other religious bodies are among the largest providers of health, social service, and educational opportunities, but they understandably consider themselves obliged to provide them in keeping with the moral dictates of their faith.

The clash between the redefinition of marriage and religious liberty in this area was painfully evident when Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, after a century of operating an adoption agency that matched children with new parents, ceased offering this service to the community rather than be forced by the state to place children with same-sex couples contrary to Catholic teaching. Just two states—Connecticut and Maryland—permit religiously affiliated adoption and foster-care agencies (but no others) to place children exclusively with married moms and dads. But even this came at a price no other adoption agency must bear: these agencies are now ineligible for any share of public funds that the states may provide.

Consider also the laws at various levels of government against housing discrimination. If a religious university offers housing to married student couples, will it be charged with discriminating if it denies such housing to same-sex married couples? Only two states with same-sex marriage—New Hampshire and New York—make any exemption for “religious organizations” in such situations, and it is not exactly settled that a university such as St. Anselm or Fordham would fall under these exemptions.

Control of Education

And on the subject of universities and schools, consider the matter of the accreditation of higher-ed programs and whole institutions, and the control of curriculum in primary and secondary education. Already we can see individual degree programs compelled by accrediting bodies, in fields such as counseling, to conform themselves to the transformed understanding of marriage and sexuality, as some religiously dissenting students have discovered to their cost.

Whole colleges and universities are themselves accredited by regional private accrediting associations—and the accreditors are in turn accredited by the US Department of Education, and recognized by the DOE as authoritative regarding which institutions grant valid degrees and enroll students eligible for federal aid of various kinds. If and when the regional accreditors and the DOE decide that the norm of “respect” for same-sex marriage must pervade higher education, which religious colleges and universities will keep standing firm in the winds that will blow?

In K-12 education, state authorities typically mandate that all schools, public and private, religious or secular, meet certain curricular goals and standards. This is fairly uncontroversial when it comes to math, science, even history. But will states mandate the teaching of the new understanding of marriage and family, and force it on religious schools? The possibility is not terribly remote.

The Tax Man Cometh

Finally, consider the matter of tax exemption. In its 1983 ruling in Bob Jones University v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed, by an 8-1 vote, the power of the Internal Revenue Service to declare that it was “contrary to public policy,” since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Court’s own 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia overturning bans on interracial marriage, to grant tax-exempt status to a religious university that admitted both white and black students but forbade them to date and marry one another. All nine justices presumed the sincerity of the university’s stated religious rationale for its policy, and none of them (even the lone dissenter) thought it mattered a bit. The Court’s decision forced Bob Jones University to change its policy.

One can deplore that university’s former policy and applaud the change that was forced on it. But we must recognize that the Bob Jones precedent is a loaded gun waiting to be picked up and used against religious schools, universities, social service agencies, hospitals and clinics, and charitable ministries of all kinds. If same-sex marriage is the new normal, and dissent from it on religious grounds is the new bigotry, then with a stroke of a pen the IRS can destroy the tax-exempt status of every para-church institution in the country that is not on board with the redefinition of marriage—and perhaps of the core institutions too, the churches, synagogues, and mosques themselves.

The Law as Moral Teacher

And after all, if the new meaning of marriage represents progress toward a more just society, why shouldn’t the coercive power of the state be deployed in all these ways? Religious freedom has its limits, it will be said. Correction: This is being said, in all the liberal-dominated legislatures where marriage has been redefined in recent years, which is why so little accommodation is being made for religious conscience, and why such tiny accommodations as have been made are almost certainly doomed to be evanescent, repealed in coming years as the vestiges of old compromises with backwardness that are no longer necessary.

And the Bob Jones example points up the perfect reasonableness of this view, if those who hold it are right about marriage: we do not make room even for “private” bigotry in our society without imposing costs, not even bigotry with a religious basis.

The transformation of the law to redefine the meaning of marriage will be bad for marriage, bad for children, and very bad indeed for those people of faith who want to maintain their faith’s teaching on marriage, in their religious institutions and in their work. The preservation of meaningful religious liberty, it turns out, is inseparable from the preservation, in our legal order, of the truth about marriage. They stand or fall together.

When the State Replaces God - An interview with Benjamin Wiker, the author of Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion


Benjamin Wiker is a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a contributor to Catholic World Report, and the author of several books, including the recently published Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion (Regnery, 2013). He spoke with CWR about his book. 

CWR: Isn’t the title of your book hyperbolic and simply meant to stir up interest? Can it really be argued that anyone, at least in the United States, really worships the state? Whatever do you mean by that?  

Wiker: Well, it’s certainly meant to stir up interest! Do people in the US, especially from the Left, physically get down and bow before, say, the steps of the Supreme Court? No! But do they treat the state as a kind of substitute for God? Yes, very much so. Is there precedent in the history of liberalism for an actual worshipping of the state? Again, yes. 

We first have to stand back and look at our current situation within a larger historical framework. Over the last two hundred years, self-consciously secular states have, quite literally, transferred worship from God to humanity itself, or more precisely, to the greatest concentration of human power, the state. 

The French Revolution’s Religion of Reason was actually a worship of man himself, and the secular revolutionary state made up its own religion, so that the revolution itself and the revolutionary state became the object of actual religious devotion. 

This same kind of movement—rejecting Christianity, only to idolize the secular state—occurred with various other political movements in the 19th and early 20th centuries: nationalism, communism, Fascism, and Nazism are the most obvious examples. For good reason, scholars have called these “political religions.” 

Socialism was one more political religion, which quite literally understood itself as transferring the worship from God to humanity itself, or more exactly, to the socialist state that promised to give citizens in this life what Christianity had promised only in the next—a this-worldly utopia. Socialism was, therefore, essentially religious in its original conception, and it became the historical foundation of liberal progressivism in the United States. 

So, yes, we are talking about actual worship of the state! But we can also see, even aside from this historical background, that the liberal state has taken upon itself the role of God, even while it busily evicts Christianity from the public square.
Let me offer one important example, President Obama’s HHS mandate, compelling all institutions, including Catholic institutions, to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization. That’s the liberal state saying, “Thou shalt participate in the liberal sexual revolution.” That’s the state defining good and evil. 

The same thing is occurring with the Left’s use of the courts to impose the acceptance of gay marriage, or the state, with abortion and euthanasia, taking upon itself the authority to define what marriage is, what life is, and when death should be dealt.
CWR: There are, as you note, many types of “liberalism.” What form of liberalism is your book about? And why do you write that “we cannot even understand liberalism until we understand some important things about Christianity”? What things?
Wiker: I begin with the most obvious and familiar form of liberalism, with liberalism as it is understood on the popular level. What are the typical liberal views? Liberals tend to be atheistic, agnostic, or at best affirmative of a “progressive” form of Christianity with little or no doctrine and a liberal view of morality. Liberals support abortion, the gay agenda, the sexual revolution, multiculturalism, a kind of moral relativism, euthanasia. And finally, liberals tend to support big government. 

That’s the popular conception of liberalism, and it’s a reasonable place to begin to understand it more deeply. While relying on this, I take the reader more deeply into the historical origins of liberalism, going all the way back to Machiavelli in the early 1500s. Here, with Machiavelli, we can most clearly see what liberalism, in its origin and essence, really was and is. It begins with a kind of double movement, a self-conscious rejection of Christianity by Machiavelli, and an affirmation of our bodily existence in this world as our highest good. 

Thus, liberalism, at its heart, is secular, defined by the rejection of Christianity and its simultaneous affirmation of the world. In this, it represents a kind of return to paganism. That’s why, historically, the advance of secular liberalism has meant both de-Christianization, and a return to a pagan worldview. 

CWR: What sort of “cosmological support,” to quote from the book, does “liberalism demand”? 
Wiker: When we understand liberalism as a self-conscious affirmation of life in this world as the only defining good for human beings, we have the key to understanding what kind of cosmos liberalism needed to support it—and that is a materialist view of the cosmos. 

It’s no accident at all that with the rise of liberal secularism we also have the rise of the materialist worldview. What’s the best way to rid the world of Christianity? Simply make a world into which Christianity won’t fit: a world made entirely of matter, a world without souls, spirits, or God. 

That’s why secular liberals always push, as part of their agenda, an entirely materialist worldview. It’s a view of reality that disallows the central truths of Christianity any foothold. If human beings are just elaborate chemical creatures, with no soul, and there’s no God, then all Christian doctrines are entirely without any foundation. 

This worldview also supports—really, defines—every aspect of the liberal view of morality. If we are only bodies, then good and evil must be defined entirely by body, that is to say, entirely by physical pleasure and pain. And so, anything that anyone finds physically pleasurable, must be, for that person, good. Good and evil are entirely relative, entirely defined by our private, individual physical desires. Of course, in a materialist world, God, who is pure spirit, cannot exist, so we are left free to make up our own morality. 

CWR: How did the early Christians go about dealing with what you call “the degraded pagan state”? Didn’t the Church simply become degraded and corrupted as well after Constantine legalized Christianity in the fourth century?
Wiker: Why is this question important? We realize why when we learn that the pagan Romans heartily affirmed contraception, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, easy divorce, easy sex, pornography, pedophilia homosexuality, and yes, even homosexual marriage! In other words, the first Christians were born into a pagan state, a pagan culture, that looks suspiciously like ours! Or to put it the other way around, secular liberalism has brought us right back to paganism, and contemporary Christians should have an unpleasant feeling of déjÀ vu. 

But that realization also brings with it an important lesson. The first Christians didn’t crawl into the catacombs in order to avoid the degraded pagan culture; instead they marched forth and evangelized it. That’s how the pagan Roman Empire, and hence the West, became Christianized. 

And that includes the evangelization of pagan Roman emperors, the first one to convert being Constantine. Jesus said to convert everyone, even the people at the top! 

While many, looking back, have viewed the conversion of Constantine as a kind of “fall” from pure Christianity, the Christians of the time didn’t think so. Just before this conversion, Christians were being burned alive, flayed, torn apart by animals, beheaded, beaten, jailed, and so on—by the pagan state. They rejoiced at the news that, quite suddenly, the pagan Emperor had converted, and rightly saw it as a fulfillment of Christ’s power of transforming everything. Constantine’s conversion was seen as a great act of Divine Providence. 

I suspect those who, looking back, yearn for the good old days of Christianity before Constantine where Christians were being massacred in the cruelest possible ways, have a merely romantic idea of what it might mean to be hunted down by the state. They should ask Christians who have lived under communism how romantic it is! 

Did the conversion of Constantine cause problems? Yes, but not nearly as many as is often reported. What Christians did learn was that the emperor could not be the head of the church—even with the best of intentions, his political aims will, sooner or later, corrupt the church. So, the Church did self-consciously create distance between itself and the state. Instead of being absorbed by the state—as pagan religion was, and to a great extent, as the Church in the East was—the Church in the West asserted that there must be a true distinction between church and state; that they must each act under their own governance, and for their own respective aims. In short, it was the Church that invented the distinction between Church and state.
CWR: In what ways did the Church invent and develop the distinction between Church and state? And if that is so, why do so many Christians seem to dislike or even attack the “separation of Church and State”? 
Wiker: Let’s quickly view the words of the late-fifth century pope Gelasius: 

For Christ, mindful of human frailty, regulated with an excellent disposition what pertained to the salvation of his people. Thus he distinguished between the offices of both powers according to their own proper activities and separate dignities, wanting his people to be saved by healthful humility and not carried away again by human pride, so that Christian emperors would need priests for attaining eternal life and priests would avail themselves of imperial regulations in the conduct of temporal affairs. In this fashion spiritual activity would be set apart from worldly encroachments and the “soldier of God” (2 Timothy 2:4) would not be involved in secular affairs, while on the other hand he who was involved in secular affairs would not seem to presided over divine matters. Thus the humility of each order would be preserved, neither being exalted by the subservience of the other, and each profession would be especially fitted for its appropriate functions. 

Note the main reason to keep the Church and state separate: to avoid pride and corruption. The political ruler must always remember that he needs the priest, he needs the Church, for the sake of his ultimate salvation. He’s not a God on earth. He’s not above God’s law and the need for God’s grace. On the other hand, the leaders of the Church must not usurp the place of political rulers or they will become worldly, and hence corrupt the church. 

So each has its appropriate function and domain: the Church, caring for the good of the soul in regard to the next life, and the state caring for those things largely pertaining to caring for bodily things and administering justice in this world. 

But note: the Church invented the distinction between the Church and the state. It was not understood as a separation defined by antagonism, as if it were the state against the Church. The kind of antagonism where we have a secular state trying to erase any and all influence of the Church—that’s the invention of modern secular liberalism. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the original meaning of the distinction between Church and state, and that is due to the rise of modern liberalism. Christians need to understand where the distinction really came from, and what it originally meant, as well as why and how it was corrupted by secular liberalism—and of course, I spend quite a lot of time on that in Worshipping the State.
CWR: Why was Machiavelli so important in the development of our modern understanding of “state”? And what were some of the key consequences of that development?
Wiker: It was, in fact, Machiavelli who invented the modern secular state, the state defined by its essential rejection of Christianity, and its embrace of an entirely this-worldly, materialistic view of politics. Our contemporary notion of “erecting a wall of separation between the church and state,” of the state as an active, secularizing institution bent on removing Christianity from the public square, is indebted to Machiavelli. 

The obvious consequence of accepting Machiavelli’s view is that the Church is driven into extinction or, somewhat more generously, impotence and irrelevance. Secularization means de-Christianization, and that’s what Christians are experiencing today. 

CWR: You argue that Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) was crucial as both the “father of modern liberal democracy” and “the father of modern Scripture scholarship”? How can that can be so when there hasn’t been a movie made about his life? 
More seriously, how did Spinoza's pantheistic views affect the Western understanding of the state? And what did Spinoza think of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church specifically?  

Wiker: I think there should be a movie, because the intrigue in regard to the strategy of secularists like Spinoza in ridding the world of orthodox Christianity is every bit as interesting, even more so, than the ever-lamentable novel The Da Vinci Code, which painted orthodox Christianity as itself a kind of conspiracy! 

Spinoza was a key radical Enlightenment thinker, certainly one of the most influential. As with all the other secular thinkers of the Enlightenment, Spinoza thought Christianity was a great big historical mistake, and Catholicism was the worst form of it. He therefore sought for a way, or ways, to undermine it. He was a brilliant strategist.

For example, rather than attack the Bible directly, he undermined it by introducing an approach to the study of Scripture that results in turning the Bible into a morality tale for the masses. To take a related example, rather than attack Christian doctrine directly, he argued that all that mattered, to be Christian, was that you loved your neighbor—all the other beliefs, all the other dogmas and doctrines were merely window-dressing. What he meant by loving your neighbor was tolerating whatever beliefs your neighbor had as long as he was generally law-abiding, because religious beliefs were entirely subjective. That view helped to define modern liberal democracy, where everyone’s beliefs about God are equally viable and equally true because they are equally without foundation. 

But Spinoza did have a kind of philosophic religion. He was a pantheist, famously declaring that God is nature and nature is God. The result, once the belief caught hold with the Romantics, was that nature was worshipped as divine. But since we are part of nature, then we are divine as well. And since the state is something that we divine human beings make, then the state must be divine! So, Spinoza’s pantheism contributed directly to the efforts of those who, in the 19th and 20th centuries, considered the state itself to be a god worthy of our highest worship. 

CWR: What is relationship between liberalism (as you've described above) and democracy? What are some of the essential factors that must be considered in assessing that relationship?  

Wiker: This is a tricky question, one that must be handled delicately because of the reigning confusions, both about democracy and about liberalism. To be all too quick about it, secular liberalism was historically defined by its essential antagonism to Christianity. It wanted to remove Christianity from culture, root and branch. It met the Christian understanding that there is real truth, with a new form of intellectual and moral relativism—the intellectual and moral relativism which so dominates our academic and intellectual circles today was devised by these first secular thinkers like Machiavelli, and we may add, Thomas Hobbes.

What does that have to do with liberal democracy? Liberalism so dislikes the Christian claim to have the truth, that it embraces the notion that there is no truth, and that anybody’s view is as good as anyone else’s. It undermines Christianity by undermining any claim to the truth. 

That relativism undergirds the liberal view of democracy, where no one’s view is any better or worse than anyone else’s, so everyone’s view must count equally. Since there is no truth, the goal of liberal democracy becomes affirming everyone’s right to do and say whatever he or she pleases. 

That is liberal democracy. Suffice it to say that democracy could be built on other foundations, such as the notion that all are created in the image of God, that we all are sinners, that we are all loved by God, that we are all in need of moral regeneration, and that we all have moral obligations to fulfill in society. 

CWR: What are the “two faces of liberalism”? What face are we staring at today, in 2013, in the United States? What are some of the unique features of secularism in the US?  

Wiker: This is a rather complex point, but to boil it down, there are two main streams in the historical development of liberalism, what we might call conservative or classical liberalism, and radical liberalism. Both share in the fundamental liberal aim to entirely secularize (i.e., de-Christianize) the state. 

The father of classical or conservative liberalism is John Locke, a very ambiguous figure, to say the least. Locke’s aim was to secularize the state, make it entirely defined by this worldly bodily welfare. In his words, the sole aim of government is the protection of property—not the encouragement of virtue, not the care of the souls of the citizens, not a preparation for the next life, but merely to see to it that its citizens could make money, and those who made it could keep it. Locke wanted to liberate the state from the Christian concern for the fate of the soul in the next world; or to be more blunt, he wanted to liberate the citizens from the Christian worry about the sin of avarice, so that they can pursue this-worldly economic gain with a clear conscience. 

Yet, Locke believed that religion was necessary as a kind of moral prop for this essentially economic endeavor—religion is necessary to control the unpropertied masses!—so he didn’t want Christianity thrown out. He just wanted it transformed into a moral helpmate for the secular, economically-defined state. That makes him “conservative” in his liberalism. 

The other face of liberalism is radical. It wants the message of liberation from the Christianity preached to everyone. Here, the father is Rousseau, and then, after him, Marx. Here we find the seeds of full-bore anti-Christian secular liberalism that we are familiar with today. 

Radical liberalism arose as a reaction to conservative or classical liberalism. The radicals argued that religion was merely a prop protecting the propertied classes in society, the so-called capitalists (which, of course, was true, given Locke’s assumptions). So, out with religion! Let the property of the few be distributed to the many, and let us have a secular state governed by everyone and serving everyone with every this-worldly good. 

That’s where socialism, communism, and the modern welfare state come from. Or, to bring it down to our contemporary political level, Republicans tend to be classical liberals supporting a government that protects economic interests, and Democrats tend to be radical liberals touting a government that dispenses economic benefits to everyone.

Unfortunately, in the contemporary US, Christians are made to believe that the entire choice they have is between two kinds of liberals, rather than digging more deeply into history, and into the Church’s own teaching, for a more profound understanding of politics that transcends our current situation.
CWR: Your final chapter is titled “Disestablishing Secular Liberalism.” What must be done? What is, realistically, the alternative to secular, democratic state?
Wiker: I offer several strategies for disestablishing secular liberalism as our defining cultural worldview, as the religion adopted and pushed by the secular state. 

First, we need to understand that secular liberalism isn’t a neutral view—the view that you get when you subtract all the various religious views from the public square. Rather, liberalism is a very particular worldview, with its own assumptions about the universe, about human nature, good and evil, what should be done by the state, and so on. Indeed, liberalism qualifies as a religion: it is as extensive in its claims as any religion, and it historically was understood, in its various forms, as a religion meant to displace Christianity. 

So, if liberalism is a religion, then it should be, according to our First Amendment, disestablished as the official government-sponsored worldview. That doesn’t mean liberalism is outlawed. It must simply step down from its privileged position, and take its place among the other religions in the public square, so that it can make its case by argument rather than imposing itself through state power. 

Second, we need to become educated about what really happened historically, both in regard to the history of Christianity and the history of modern secular liberalism. Ignorance of what actually happened historically is a great obstacle to re-evangelizing our de-Christianized culture. 

We need to understand that it was the Church that invented the distinction between the church and the state, and we need to be very clear about what the difference is between what the Church intended and what liberalism now puts forth as the separation of church and state. 

We need to understand that it was Christianity that invented the university. Why? Consider what effect it might have to teach, in our universities today, that the university wouldn’t exist if Christianity hadn’t invented it. The next obvious question is, or should be: What is it about Christianity, about its doctrines, about the structure of the Church, that brought about the invention of the university within Christendom and nowhere else? To understand why there is a university at all, we must carefully and sympathetically study the history of the Church. That, one hopes, would lead to a kind of openness in the universities to Christianity, rather than what we generally find today—complete animosity. 

There are other examples in Worshipping the State of teaching “what really happened” that would go a long way in undermining the smug hold on culture enjoyed by secular liberals. Liberals make the case for secularization by presenting Christianity, historically, as the cause of all kinds of evil. We need to counteract that. We need to study what actually happened in the Crusades, rather than the various myths that support the liberal view of Christianity’s “dark” history. Study the history of science, and discover that modern science was born in the Middle Ages, in the Church, and that the first scientists were monks, priests, and bishops. Study the actual history of warfare, and discover that, contrary to popular liberal opinion, the Church isn’t the cause of the greatest and bloodiest wars, and that the number slaughtered in the name of secularism dwarfs the numbers killed in the name of faith. 

But above all, we can’t just look to the past. We must attend to the future. The Church must evangelize the culture, just as it did the declining pagan culture of the Roman Empire—and this is not a mere analogy, since secular liberalism has created a culture that differs very little from that of ancient pagan Rome. 

What is the alternative to a secular, democratic state? Well, to be a bit startling, one alternative is occurring in Europe. The secular liberal democracies of Europe are imploding. The sexual revolution has reduced them to a birthrate far below replacement, and family life has been all but destroyed. The population vacuum is being filled by Muslim immigration and a birthrate far above replacement.  The imminent alternative to a secular, democratic state in Europe is a Muslim state, where a determined minority fast becoming a majority uses democracy to transform the state from a secular, democratic state into a theocracy governed by sharia law. 

Let’s look at another alternative, an understanding of politics built upon the natural law. The natural law is not explicitly Christian, that is, it is not based upon Christian revelation, but is rooted in the nature of human beings as such, and hence available to everyone. 

This would be democratic, in the sense that all human beings are equally human, and must therefore be treated as having equal moral worth. But it wouldn’t be based upon a false equality of relativism where all opinions are equal—i.e., the liberal notion that there is no truth, and so anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s. Needful to say, the liberal notion that there is no truth undermines itself! Why should we hold to liberal views if no view is any better or worse? 

Nor would it be based upon the liberal notion that human beings are merely soulless chemical aggregates who have nothing more to hope for in life than physical pleasure, but rather, upon the full reality of the human good as defined by our being a unity of soul and body. 

This is only a sketch, and it would take an entire book to fill in the details—a task which I might very soon take up as a sequel to Worshipping the State.

segunda-feira, 17 de junho de 2013

Benedict XVI Wanted a "Poor" Church, Too - by Sandro Magister

In Chiesa 
The encyclical of Francis conceived and written by his predecessor is not the only sign of continuity between the two most recent popes. On the "poverty" of the Church as well there is harmony. It is enough to reread what Ratzinger said in Freiburg in 2011, in one of the capital discourses of his pontificate

ROME, June 17, 2013 – There have been two news items in recent days that have shed new light on the relationship that binds Pope Francis to his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

The first is the announcement, made on June 13 by Jorge Mario Bergoglio himself, of the imminent release of an encyclical written “with four hands”:

“Pope Benedict passed it along it to me. It is a powerful document, even I will say there that I have received this great work: he created it, and I have carried it forward.”

It is the encyclical on faith that pope Joseph Ratzinger had planned to publish after the previous ones dedicated to the other two theological virtues: charity and hope. At the time of his renunciation of the pontificate it was almost finished.

Curiously, the first encyclical of Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," had also made use of some material prepared during the previous pontificate. But in that case its general construction, and the first of its two great sections in particular, the more theological one, was typically Ratzingerian.

This time, instead, almost the whole composition of the encyclical is by Ratzinger. It is as if pope Bergoglio had limited himself to writing its preface and conclusion. His signature becomes a strong sign of acknowledgement of the pope who preceded him.


The second news item instead concerns a book published this year in Germany, it too written "with four hands": by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, a former president of Cor Unum, and by the theologian and psychiatrist Manfred Lütz, a member of the pontifical academy for life and a consultant to various Vatican offices.

It is a book that right from its title - "The legacy of Benedict and the mission of Francis: Eliminate worldliness from the Church" - is aimed at delineating a continuity between the two popes, in particular between the address delivered by Benedict XVI to "Catholics engaged in the life of the Church and society" on September 25, 2011 in Freiburg, during his last voyage to Germany, and the statements of Francis on the Church as "poor and for the poor."

The two authors presented the book to Ratzinger at the beginning of June, meeting him at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican gardens.

"I live like a monk, I pray and read. I am well," Ratzinger told his two visitors, according to what Lütz reported in the newspaper "Bild" of June 5.

And as for the continuity between him and Francis, he commented: "From the theological point of view we are perfectly in agreement."

The contents of this meeting received scant media coverage. But it must be noted that the address of Benedict XVI in Freiburg also passed unjustifiably under silence when it was delivered, in spite of the fact that it was one of the most significant not only of that voyage to Germany, together with the one to the Bundestag in Berlin, but of the whole pontificate:

> "To remove courageously that which is worldly in the Church…"

The only vaticanista who highlighted the matter from Rome was Andrea Gagliarducci, on his weekly blog in English:

> MondayVatican



by Andrea Gagliarducci

"In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes self-satisfied, settles down in this world, becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world."

Moreover: "Not infrequently, she gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness towards God, her vocation to opening up the world towards the other."

And finally: "Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world."

Who said this?

A first – instinctive – answer to this question would be: Pope Francis. He made "a Church of poverty and for the poor" his mark from his very first meeting with journalists. He, who has increasingly often repeated that "institutions are useful, but up to a point". He even exhorted the future Papal nuncios to “keep their inner freedom.”

The statements at the beginning of this article are actually not Francis’. They are Benedict XVI’s. The now Pope emeritus made those remarks in Freiburg, on September 25, 2011, to Catholics engaged in the life of the Church and society.

Benedict XVI’s words are relevant beyond the German context, even if it is true that the German Church experiences this pitfall in a very specific way. The German Church is wealthy thanks to the kirchensteuer, the State tax – of a considerable amount – on religion. It has been able to multiply social structures and charities, becoming almost self complacent. Thus, the German Church has lost sight of God, while social structures have become the center of its work. The most painful thing is that an ever smaller number of Christians is employed in Catholic-inspired social institutions. However, love and care for the other, an essential aspect of the mission of the Church, came from Christianity. In the name of social services, identity is lost. And, lacking identity, the orientation of the mission of the Church is also lost.

As we noted earlier, this is not only a problem in Germany. Recently, Archbishop Mariano Crociata, Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, standing before 200 workers from Catholic-inspired health facilities, underlined the need for all – workers and institutions – to preserve their identity and to have workers properly formed about Catholic principles.

More generally – in the wider context comprising all services and institutions that claim to be Catholic inspired – much has been debated, for example, about the identity of Catholic universities. A debate that has been fierce in the United States. The Cardinal Newman Society is one of the associations that is carrying on the quest for identity: its website is full of denunciations of government interference in the hiring of teachers in Catholic schools and universities. At the same time the Cardinal Newman Society does not hesitate to call attention on universities that are ever more detached from their own Catholic heritage.

A recently released book addresses these issues. Written by the journalist Manfred Luetz and Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, President Emeritus of Cor Unum (the Vatican “dicastery” supporting Catholic charities), “Benedict’s legacy and Francis’ mission” (Benedikts Vermächtnis und Franziskus' Auftrag: Entweltlichung der Kirche, Verlag Herder) delineates a certain continuity between Benedict’s speech in Freiburg and Pope Francis’ words.

Cordes and Luetz presented a copy of the book to Benedict XVI, whom they met at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, within the Vatican walls, where he is now living. Benedict reportedly agreed: yes, there is a certain theological continuity between his Freiburg speech and Francis’ preaching.

It is still uncertain how Pope Francis will transform this message, captured in well-meaning slogans, into concrete endeavors.

During his pontificate, Benedict XVI not only maintained how important it was for the Church to become "less worldly ". He used the word "demundanization", which means, according to Msgr. Ludwig Müller, to "separate and unify" – but also to build a legal framework to overcome the identity threat. Ultimately, it is a matter of faith. But the question is: how can faith be nurtured if there is not a true adherence to the Gospel when teaching, caring, or carrying on works of charity in the name of the Church?

Under Benedict XVI there was a reform of the Caritas Internationalis constitution, based on the motto Caritas in Veritate, Charity in Truth (not accidentally the title of Benedict XVI’s social encyclical). The motu proprio Intima Ecclesia was also released, to regulate diocesan charities and reinforce the bishops’ oversight over them.

That is the starting point Pope Francis has inherited, and from which he looks onwards to a reform of Pastor Bonus, the apostolic constitution that regulates the work of Curial offices. Will this reform achieve a change of hearts or will it merely be an organizational restructuring?

Ultimately, "it is not a question here of finding a new strategy to re-launch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit".

Benedict XVI said it in Freiburg. But it seems hardly anyone took note of it at the time.


The book:

Paul Josef Cordes, Manfred Lütz: "Benedikts Vermächtnis und Franziskus' Auftrag: Entweltlichung der Kirche," Verlag Herder, pp. 160, euro 14.99.


Pope Francis announced the encyclical "by four hands" while conversing on June 13 with the members of the ordinary council of the secretariat of the synod of bishops.

The preparatory address for the occasion - which was not delivered - announced "further developments to foster even more the dialogue and collaboration among the bishops and between them and the bishop of Rome."

Improvising, the pope added that the postsynodal exhortation that he is preparing to write will address the topic of "evangelization in general," not only in countries of ancient Christian tradition.

Among the themes to be addressed at a future synod, he called attention back to the problem of the family, since today many people are living together without getting married and marriage is becoming "provisory."

He also called for reflection on the "grave problem" of secularized anthropology. "Secularity has become secularism," he cautioned. And he warned against the risks of Gnosticism and Pelagianism, the infusion of which is now giving rise to a "new culture" that constitutes for Catholics "a very serious anthropological problem."