|In the final analysis, Cardinal George makes it quite evident the religious freedom crusade is all about the bishops and their authority
Cardinal George has written another of his--ahem-- pastoral letters. This time no one is compared to the Ku Klux Clan, but there is a reference to the Soviet Union definition of religious liberty and the long long cold war necessary to bring that godless system down. I guess this is the Barack as closet communist meme. After reading the thing twice, I came to conclusion Cardinal George has been taking his talking points from Glen Beck. Here's the Cardinal's take on the history of religious freedom:
So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.
I think the Mormons and the Quakers and the Amish might differ with Cardinal George's view of history--and then there was that whole Native American religious persecution thing, but whatever.
Then Cardinal George gives us his take on the dismal future and he sounds perfectly apocalyptic. Remember all this is threatened over insurance companies paying for birth control:
What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
I'm thinking smart Catholic institutions will opt for the separation from the oversight of the local bishop before the local bishop gets all high and mighty and histrionic and executes their jobs by executing #4.
Further along he makes the case that the public is making this a discussion of the 'reproductive' issues and not religious freedom, and that is isolating the bishops from Catholic faithful. This is news? Well, whatever, he then gets in some more apocalyptic language and moves on to compare the morality of cheating on tests with birth control, overlooking the fact completely that Catholic laity do not consider the use of birth control immoral. Which is of course, the heart of the personal conscience issue. He then ends this section with the theoretical arguments against the bishop's position which he boils down to inadequacy in personal faith.
In the public discussion thus far, efforts have been made to isolate the bishops from the Catholic faithful by focusing attention exclusively on “reproductive” issues. But the acrimony could as easily focus next year or the year after on assisted suicide or any other moral issue that can be used to distract attention from the attack on religious liberty. Many will recognize in these moves a tactic now familiar in our public life: those who cannot be co-opted are isolated and then destroyed. The arguments used are both practical and theoretical.
Practically, we’re told that the majority of Catholics use artificial contraception. There are properly medical reasons, in some circumstances, for the use of contraceptive pills, as everyone knows. But even if contraceptives were used by a majority of couples only and exclusively to suppress a possible pregnancy, behavior doesn’t determine morality. If it can be shown that a majority of Catholic students cheat on their exams, it is still wrong to cheat on exams. Trimming morality to how we behave guts the Gospel call to conversion of life and rejection of sin.
Theoretically, it is argued that there are Catholic voices that disagree with the teaching of the church and therefore with the bishops. There have always been those whose personal faith is not adequate to the faith of the church. Perhaps this is the time for everyone to re-read the Acts of the Apostles. Bishops are the successors of the apostles; they collectively receive the authority to teach and govern that Christ bestowed upon the apostles. Bishops don’t claim to speak for every baptized Catholic. Bishops speak, rather, for the Catholic and apostolic faith. Those who hold that faith gather with them; others go their own way. They are and should be free to do so, but they deceive themselves and others in calling their organizations Catholic.
There is much more to this letter and I hope readers link to it and make what they can of it. It does get very apocalyptic and threatening at the end. Check this out:
If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.
At least Cardinal George has given his Catholic institutions two years or so to execute the 'separate themselves from his control' plan before he separates them from their jobs. This is incomprehensible to me. The man is threatening the livelihoods of God knows how many people over his right to use his authority to mandate how their individual consciences will play out in their lives. He's right about one thing, this is getting way beyond birth control.
No wonder the USCCB wants the Taco Bell manager to have the same rights because it masks what they themselves are now stating they will do to all their own employees on an individual diocesan basis. It will not be the Roman Catholic institution closing down all those hospitals and charitable organizations in Lake and Cook counties, it will be one man--Cardinal George.
This is getting into some very murky waters and I wish more of our Catholic opinion makers would make an effort to understand where the Cardinal George's of the Catholic world are willing to go with this trumped up crusade. This letter of Cardinal George's makes it pretty plain it's not even about religious freedom, it's about unbridled power and the exercise there of in the bishops own episcopal kingdoms. There are no checks and balances on that individual power, which George is making perfectly clear. They themselves can't lose because they can't be recalled or voted out or effectively silenced---unlike Barack Obama. The only losers in their little war with the government are, as usual, lay Catholics. This whole clerical system has got to go.