Americans United Asks the IRS to Investigate Bishop Serratelli
By Deacon Keith Fournier 10/24/2008
I encourage all our readers to pray for the Bishops of the Catholic Church who have been singled out by Americans United.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - On October 16, 2008, I wrote an article for Catholic Online entitled “Americans United Threatens the Tax Exemption of the U.S. Catholic Church”. The article was widely read and circulated throughout the new media. Some readers warned that I was over reacting. Others inferred I was being an alarmist. I knew better. I have studied Church history. I am also a constitutional lawyer with a professional history of fighting for life, family and religious freedom. What I warned of has now happened. “Americans United for the Separation of Church and State” has formally requested the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Roman Catholic Bishop of Paterson, N.J., the Most Reverend Arthur Serratelli. I believe this is their first volley in a concerted effort to silence Catholic Bishops. They want to prevent them from teaching the unchangeable Moral Truth, revealed in the Natural Law and confirmed by medical science, that the child in the first home of the whole human race is one of us and that every procured abortion constitutes an intrinsically evil act because it is the taking of innocent human life. They accused the Bishop of “illegal partisanship”. We published Bishop Satarelli’s excellent piece “No Right to Life! No Freedom!” We republish it again today for our readers. It is only one of a number of articles and public statements coming from our beloved Bishops. None of these statements is “partisan” in nature. There are Democrats, Republicans and Independents who recognize the humanity of the child in the womb and seek to restore legal protection to our first neighbors.
Rob Boston warned that he and Barry Lynn were going to attempt to stop our Bishops from speaking and writing in a posting on the AU web site entitled “Texas Side Step: Bishops’ Letter Attacking Pro-Choice Candidates Attempts to Sashay Past Federal Tax Law”. In that posting they also singled out Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth and Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton. I would not be surprised to see these Shepherds suffer a similar treatment, along with the “the Lion of Denver”, courageously Pro-Life Archbishop Charles Chaput. Barry Lynn and Rob Boston’s interpretation of the Establishment Clause, Free Speech Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is simply wrong. It is not faithful to history, it is not a proper reading of Constitutional law, it is not good for the public order and it does not promote or serve the common good. This clause was never intended by the American founders to prevent religious groups from full participation in the public square nor to censor out religious speech or the religious speaker from civic participation. It was never intended to stop Bishops from being Moral teachers. The “Establishment Clause” is better understood as an “anti-Establishment Clause” because it was intended to prevent the erection of a National Church. Of course, as a Catholic, I am quite sensitive to the fact that the early American colonies were not, for the most part, very Catholic friendly. However, over time, that changed. And, properly understood, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution has allowed for a robust diversity of religious expression (or non-expression) and the flourishing of a dynamic model of religious freedom in America. That is, when it is properly interpreted and applied.
These Catholic Bishops are teaching what the Church has always taught, showing pastoral concern for the souls of the faithful and speaking prophetically into the American culture. The I.R.S. prohibits churches and other nonprofit groups from endorsing or opposing specific political candidates. None of these Bishops did that. Americans United simply does not like the content of the message and is trying to censor it by silencing the messengers. Sadly, they have been helped along by some Catholics in Public Life who have incorrectly argued that what the Catholic Church proclaims about the humanity of children in the womb is “religious”, in the sense of being a matter only a matter of doctrinal and sectarian teaching, in order to justify their own infidelity and satisfy their political base. The truth about the inviolable dignity of every human life is not merely “religious”, though it is confirmed by Revelation. Rather, it is proven by Science and revealed in the Natural Law. The Right to Life is a also fundamental human right and not simply a religious conviction or belief. This tactic of Americans United is not without historic precedent. In 1999, Harold O.J. Brown noted a "similarity between the way the Roman authorities charged Christians of that era with "Odium Humani Generis" [hatred of the human race] and the way the political and media establishment charge contemporary Christians with creating a climate of hate." This charge against the early Christians was leveled by some within another culture which had also lost its respect for the dignity of all human life, first and second century Rome.
The animosity toward the Christians grew as the citizens of that once great empire continued their spiraling moral decline. They did not want to hear these Christians with their opposition to abortion and the practice of "exposure" (the killing of newborns). Their infatuation with hedonism was threatened by those Christians’ insistence on monogamous marriage. One of the ancient Christian manuscripts from that age, written to a pagan inquirer, spoke of the distinctly different practices of the Christians: “They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land. They marry like all others and beget children but they do not expose (kill or abandon) their offspring. Their board they spread for all, but not their bed.” The unwavering commitment of faithful Christians to the dignity of every human person and monogamous true marriage eventually transformed ancient Rome. But it was not without hostility.
A giant of our age, the Saint of Calcutta, Blessed Mother Theresa, proclaimed this connection between the growing violence in America and “legal” abortion. Like all true prophets she didn’t bend truth to popularity. She prophetically warned that a "Culture of Violence" is unleashed whenever we lose respect for the dignity of all human life, especially the ones she called the "poorest of the poor," the innocent pre-born children. Her prophetic words still speak from the grave. By their lives and their words Christians speak truth to unbridled power and often expose the lies of a libertine counterfeit of authentic freedom which tries to call what is always wrong, a “right”. They follow the One who purchased true freedom by the shedding of His precious blood and their Baptismal vocation comes with an obligation to defend the dignity of every human life. Christians may soon become more and more “annoying” to the contemporary culture of death and use. Out in front of us all are those who some find the most annoying, Catholic Bishops who teach unchangeable moral truths. However, their position is the opposite of hatred of the human race. Rather, it is love for the dignity of all men and women in their person, their bodies, their families, and their right to authentic human freedom. I encourage all our readers to pray for the Bishops of the Catholic Church who have been singled out by Americans United. AU simply wants to silence the Church and they must not succeed.