LeftSidePositive pointed out yesterday that when Catholic archbishops prate of freedom of conscience they are bullshitting, because they don’t believe in or promote other people’s freedom of conscience to have nothing to do with Catholic rules.
This needs to be mentioned more often.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on religious freedom last April. It is of course that kind of bullshit from beginning to end. They don’t mean religious freedom in general at all; they mean only “freedom” for them to coerce everyone else, including non-Catholics.
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.
No it doesn’t. Their Catholic faith obliges them to obey rules laid out by the Vatican. It obliges them to obey what they pretend are commands from god. That’s a different kind of thing from working together with fellow citizens for the common good of fellow citizens. (And how about working for the common good of all people?) Obeying god is god-centered; working with people for the common good is human-centered. The Catholic church is god-centered. It tries to elbow its way into secular matters in the hope that we won’t hate it so much, but it doesn’t mean a word of it. It does not work for the common good of people. It says it does, but it doesn’t.
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.
Some Catholics have, no doubt. The Catholic church and its hierarchy have not.
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.
No. No, no, no. You don’t let your own nuns have religious liberty – you monitor them and call them in for a scolding and do your best to force them to obey you. You excommunicate a nun who approved a life-saving abortion. You browbeat healthcare administrators who refuse to sign an agreement never to save a woman’s life via an abortion even when the fetus is doomed anyway. You don’t believe in religious liberty at all. You believe in liberty for yourselves to coerce everyone else.
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.
There it is, you see – “liberty” understood as the unfettered ability to hinder other people’s access to medical treatment and contraception. “Liberty” to take away the liberty of other people.
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:
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.
Their cherished freedom to interfere with other people.
They are such operators.