WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - One of the great scandals of our age is the leadership of some of our fellow Catholics in public life who are unfaithful to the teaching of our Church and betray their public trust. Sadly, they demonstrate the danger warned of in the last great ecumenical council of our Church, Vatican II.
The Council Fathers in their document on the Christian mission - Lumen Gentium, “Light to the Nations - used a phrase which has been repeated many times since then in numerous teachings from the contemporary Popes and is a favorite of our own U.S. Bishops. They warned of the “separation between faith and life.” They called it one of the “greatest errors of our age”. And, so it truly is... advanced with the help of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some other Catholics in public life.
In his prophetic Encyclical Letter entitled “The Gospel of Life" John Paul II wrote concerning a “perverse idea of freedom" as a raw power over others. He reaffirmed the "essential link" between freedom and truth. This connection is the beating heart of morality and common sense. In "The Splendor of Truth" he proclaimed that "freedom itself needs to be set free" from the lie of the current age. He exposed the counterfeit notions of freedom, the rotted fruit of the new paganism, materialism and nihilism which calls itself “progressivism” when it it is actually regressivism.
Authentic faithful Christians - and especially Catholic Christians who have the wealth of the teaching office of the “Social Magisterium” of the Church - must now become the champions of freedom in this age. Millions are depending upon our courage to resist the lies of this current deluded age and rebuild the Western vision of a free society.
We must insist upon the essential connection between freedom, truth and responsibility to prevent the continued descent of the West into a new paganism masquerading as “freedom.” The horrors which will be unleashed in the name of a “freedom” which is a lie are evident in the blood of all those killed through procured abortions since Roe. Let’s cut to the chase, killing our first neighbors in the womb in the name of “choice” is evil, sick and unlawful.
It also violates the Natural Law even if the current positive law allows it. It is barbarism. As Christians we agree that humans are “free” to choose. However we insist that some choices are always wrong. Perhaps the most obvious example is the lie that a nation can treat an entire class of human persons as property to be used – and killed- rather than a gift to be received and recognized as our neighbors, and still claim to be free and just.
As Catholic Christians who are citizens in this experiment in ordered liberty called the United States of America, we have been able to flourish. That is because the founding documents of this Nation, (even if it took centuries to understand their implications in certain areas), articulated truths derived from the classical Natural Law thinking of Western Christendom.
These truths were set forth in the great philosophical tradition of the Latin Church in St. Thomas Aquinas, but they find their origin in the teachings of the early Fathers of the “Patristic” age of the Church. They are the fruit of the tree of real liberty whose roots are sunk deeply in the Biblical texts, Old and New Testament.
For example, the American founders insistence upon the existence of “unalienable rights” which are “endowed by a Creator” on every human person was inspired. The Declaration is the Birth Certificate of the American Republic. Our acceptance of the existence of universally recognized rights, truths and obligations has informed the foundation for the Western understanding of the Rule of Law. It is also the source of of our true liberties.
The insistence that fundamental human rights are not conferred by Civil Government but endowed by God is what made Western Civilization flourish. It still serves as a beacon of hope for the entire world. There is a “Natural Law” which is written on our conscience. That Natural Law is a participation in God’s law. It is knowable through the exercise of reason by all men and women, whether they acknowledge God's existence or not. It is that Natural Law which is the measuring stick for any truly just “positive” or “civil” law. When we fail to recognize this we lose our way and we lose our freedom. Our history attests to this.
The substitution of license for liberty is what John Paul II had in mind when he warned of "a notion of freedom, which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them." As he prophetically cautioned, it results from the "eclipse of the sense of God and of man typical of a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism." That is what has infected our beloved Nation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its section on “Man’s Freedom” articulates the classical Jewish and Christian vision of the human person created in the Image of God. We have a capacity for freedom which is modeled on God’s freedom and must be exercised in relationship to truth and with a mind toward our neighbors to whom we owe an obligation in solidarity. In other words, we must always choose what is good and true.
The words of Section 1733 of the Catholic Catechism hit the “nail on the head” to use a colloquialism: “ There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom….” A little later in this profound text, the Catechism reminds us that “From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.”
Senator Nancy Pelosi has been corrected so many times by her Bishop it is beginning to irritate many. Yet, she persists in a flagrant disregard for the teaching of the Church she professes to be a member of. She also evidences an intention to mislead her fellow Catholics about the unquestionably clear teaching of that Church. Faithful Catholics profess that this teaching concerning the responsibilities of of human freedom, such as not killing one another, is not simply a matter for only Catholics but constitute an absolute obligation for any just society.
The social ordering principles contained within Catholic Social teaching of the Church are not simply “private” religious matters. They are profoundly public. They outline the parameters of civilized behaviour. They help to explain what is good about the experiment in ordered liberty called the United States of America. The subterfuge of the Speaker of the House of Representatives concerning the Foundational and Fundamental first right, the Right to Life, and the first freedom, the freedom to be born, is dangerous to the future of our Republic.
It strikes at the core of what constitutes human freedom. It is a refutation of the truth concerning solidarity - our responsibilities to one another as neighbors. It denies the very existence of a “Natural Law” which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason and which is the foundation of Civil Law itself. Yet, she persistsin her deceit. She has the arrogance to pretend that in so doing she is acting as a faithful Catholic. This was recently shown in her shameful interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine. (Dec. 21, 2009)
Archbishop George H. Niederauer in a well written piece entitled “Free Will, Conscience and Moral Choice: What Catholics believe” has once again corrected the Speaker, a member of his flock. I believe that he did so out of pastoral concern and Christian love. We publish his entire column below as our first related story. His article is a lesson in Morality. We ask all of our readers to please read it carefully. Then go to the Sacred Scriptures and to the Catholic Catechism. There you find the truth concerning what constitutes the real Catholic Christian faith. Not the errors and the false public witness of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Do not let Speaker Nancy Pelosi or any unfaithful Catholics in public life continue to confuse you. Yes, continue to pray for the Speaker but resist her lies and oppose their evil effects. Do not be intimidated, Set Freedom free. Defend the truth against those who lie about the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church. That includes some Catholics in public life. This proper correction by the Bishop of the Speaker is another Call to a new Catholic Action!