Friday, August 03, 2012

Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Nails Assault on American Religious Liberty

 Francis Cardinal George Our Great Shepherd -with Leo Board Member Tamara Holder and the Leo Guys -Bobby Sheehy, Bill Hessian

I remain a Roman Catholic in America for the exact same reasons that I wake up at 3 A.M. and look in on my kids even though two are adults and the youngest seventeen, pray the Memorare and the Novena of the Little Flower on my knees an hour and a half later, read as much as I can, write about what I have read or thought about, try to do a few laps on the Rosary looking for all the world to be playing Master's Level pocket pool while waiting at Dunkin Donuts for Miss Lou, Kim and her daughter Kameron.  Lou takes Kameron to Day Care for Kim while Kim works at U of I Med Center in the cafeteria. I take Kim to the terminal at 79th & Western, as it is on my way to Leo High School.

Kim is a single mom with two daughters. The elder girl is nineteen and ebony goddess Kameron is eight years old with designs on capturing America's heart on the Disney Channel.  I was easy.  Kim works a brutal day preparing salads for the Medical staff at U of I ChicagoMed Center.  Last year, I began driving Kim and spending real quality time with these three African American women, along with the cops, firemen, skilled tradesmen, City of Chicago white collar folks, nurses and cousins at Kareem's Dunkin Donuts.

These tasks, like my prayer ritual, are part of me.  I was taught to pray and then forgot how, until times of trouble or when I had managed to piss off every carbon foot-print within my five mile radius.  Prayer is not only a public ritual, but should be a reflexive action that underlies our waking hours and balms our sleep.

Being Irish, I am embarrassed to make a public display of prayer - that kiss of Peace at Mass ( 'Peace Be with You!' - Uh-huh, thanks. Back at you.) really tossed Irish Americans into a spiral. Some of the more pious took to it like duck's to Cheetos and evolved into the folks who extend arms with palms up like ad hoc Melchizedeks  I belong to a subsection of Irish Catholic America that winces when publicly hugged, touched, or complimented. I like traditional prayers and go absolutely Bat Guano when Catholic educators begin every Goddam meeting with the distribution of xeroxed copies of personal prayers to be read out loud.  We got plenty good prayers, but we insist on being the center of the show with a presentation of badly formed words and phrases - "Dear God, the sexually ambiguous Trinity, bless our actions this day as we bring about an end to universal poverty, racism, torture with this day's breaking into groups for discussion and sharing and all kinds of passive aggressive gamesmanship . . .!"

Prayers get answered in God's own manner and with his own brand of theological larceny - "Hickey, the door to back . . .right is open and you already signed in . . .pull a Murphy . . .let Dan know . . . there, see behind the faculty from St. Benedict's?  Yes, the doors with exit sign . . . Really, how do you get a fork to your mouth without mutilating yourself?  Now, you guys go . . .clear the exit to parking lot . . .wait for the signal  . . .  the command for heads to drop in Humble supplication . . .Go!"

I am proud on my Church and more than proud to find a pew in the back and off to side at Mass on Sunday and a few days of the week.  For the last twenty or thirty years, Catholics have been goaded into becoming Unitarians - Let's call Blessed Virgin Mary Hospital - All Faiths Health Services!  No, let's not.  Most of the kids at Leo High School are non-Catholic, but they all take Catholic instruction and attend Catholic Mass.  Leo High School prays every day, because it is Catholic.

The American Catholic Church in America and every other faith is under attack.  The new Pastoral by the American Catholic Bishops clearly road-map the paths to the situation and identify assaults. In subsection of this pastoral the government handcuffs on religious liberty are here -

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: 

A Statement on Religious Liberty

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

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 beprohibited 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.

Here in Chicago, the two daily newspapers fully ignored Francis Cardinal George's statement on Rahm's Chicago Values.  It is not about the chicken sandwiches at all.  The media wants the Catholic Church in Chicago to obey the meme text maxim -STFU -What about the pedophile scandal?  What about it?  What has not been said, or done about it?    The media washed the homosexuality of the scandal right out of the issue and turned its guns on administration.  The pedophile priests weren't looking for Bachelor and the Bobby-Sox-er dates. It was and remains overwhelmingly Man on Boy predation.

 Our politicians have all been bought by Planned Parenthood and "baptized Catholic altar boys" like Alderman Proco Joe Moreno do its bidding.  Gay Marriage is an adjunct of the abortion industry. The media, never friends of Catholics, cares more about an interview with Governor Pat Quinn than with the leader of one of the largest Catholic populations in America. Chicago's President announced no compromise on contraception and abortion mandates - how about that Pat Quinn, Dick Durbin and the balance of the Illinois Personal PAC elected serfs?

I am a Catholic and I pray everyday -thoughts, words and, I hope, deeds.

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