Nuncio Archbp. Viganò at Notre Shame talks about a concrete “menace” to religious liberty

From CNA about the address the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, gave at “Notre Shame”, aka “The Scene of the Crime”, with my emphases and comments:

Papal nuncio: Catholic division undermines religious freedom

South Bend, Ind., Nov 12, 2012 / 07:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has told the University of Notre Dame that there is a concrete “menace” to religious liberty in the U.S. that is advancing in part because some influential Catholic public figures and university professors are allied with those opposed to Church teaching.

Evidence is emerging which demonstrates that the threat to religious freedom is not solely a concern for non-democratic and totalitarian regimes,” he said. “Unfortunately it is surfacing with greater regularity in what many consider the great democracies of the world.”

The apostolic nuncio, who serves as the Pope’s diplomatic representative to the U.S., said this is a “tragedy” for both the believer and for democratic society.

Archbishop Viganò’s Nov. 4 speech keynoted the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life conference. He discussed martyrdom, persecution, and religious freedom, with a particular focus on the United States.

He cited Catholics’ duties to be disciples of Christ, not elements of a political or secular ideology. He lamented the fact that many Catholics are publicly supporting “a major political party” that has “intrinsic evils among its basic principles.” [That would be Catholics supporting the Democrat party.]

“There is a divisive strategy at work here, an intentional dividing of the Church; through this strategy, the body of the Church is weakened, and thus the Church can be more easily persecuted,” the nuncio said.

Archbishop Viganò observed that some influential Catholic public officials and university professors are allied with forces opposed to the Church’s fundamental moral teachings on “critical issues” like abortion, population control, the redefinition of marriage, embryonic stem cell research and “problematic adoptions.

He said it is a “grave and major problem” when self-professed Catholic faculty at Catholic institutions are the sources of teachings that conflict with Church teaching on important policy issues rather than defend it.

While Archbishop Viganò noted that most Americans believe they are “essentially a religious people” and still give some importance to religion, he also saw reasons this could change.

He said that the problem of persecution begins with “reluctance to accept the public role of religion,” especially where protecting religious freedom “involves beliefs that the powerful of the political society do not share.”

The nuncio said it is “essential” to pray for a just resolution to religious freedom controversies, including the controversy over the new federal mandate[the Obama administration’s HHS mandate] requiring many Catholic employers to provide morally objectionable insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

The issues that the Catholic bishops have identified in this mandate are “very real” and “pose grave threats to the vitality of Catholicism in the United States,” Archbishop Viganò said.

The nuncio also discussed other religious liberty threats.

He cited a Massachusetts public school curriculum that required young students to take courses that presented same-sex relations as “natural and wholesome.” Civil authorities rejected parents’ requests for a procedure to exempt their children from the “morally unacceptable” classes.

“If these children were to remain in public schools, they had to participate in the indoctrination of what the public schools thought was proper for young children,” the archbishop said. “Put simply, religious freedom was forcefully pushed aside once again.”

Catholic Charities agencies have also been kicked out of social service programs because they would not institute policies or practices that violate “fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith.”

Archbishop Viganò cited several countries that have witnessed severe persecution like China, Pakistan, India and the Middle East. He praised the martyrs past and present who would not compromise on “the principles of faith.[The US is becoming like those countries, which means there will be martyrs.]

While some forms of persecution are violent and cruel, others aim to incapacitate the faith by encouraging people to renounce their beliefs or the public aspects of their faith, in the face of “great hardships.”

Fidelity to God and the Church has “hastened martyrdom and persecution for many believers of the past, and of today,” he said.

“In all of these instances, we see that the faithful persist in their fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Holy Church! For throughout her history, the Church has gained strength when persecuted,” the archbishop said.

Religious liberty is a human, civil and natural right that is not conferred by the state, he said, adding “religious freedom is the exercise of fidelity to God and his Holy Church without compromise.

“What God has given, the servant state does not have the competence to remove,” Archbishop Viganò affirmed.

An Apostolic Nuncio does not speak this way publicly unless he has endorsement from above.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Dogs and Fleas, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Southern Catholic says:

    Excellent! I wish I was there myself to hear the address. I’m glad the leaders of the Church are finally leading the flock.

  2. catholicmidwest says:

    The waste products have finally hit the fan. Things may accelerate now, but at least it’s being recognized for what it is now. Rome is aware.

  3. Clinton R. says:

    That image of Notre Shame honoring their “king” never ceases to make me feel sick. May God have mercy upon this perverse and faithless generation. +JMJ+

  4. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Way to go, Papal Nuncio!

  5. acardnal says:

    “He lamented the fact that many Catholics are publicly supporting “a major political party” that has “intrinsic evils among its basic principles.”

    Let the excommunications begin!

  6. wmeyer says:

    I do love it when an archbishop speaks so firmly, leaving nuance behind. May all our bishops follow his example, without further delay.

  7. Ralph says:

    Is it possible that we are seeing a shift from the leadership of the church in how they are going to address discent from within?
    Are we going to see a bold teaching authority?

  8. Johnny Domer says:

    I’d like to point out that the Institute for Church Life, which hosted the conference, is a wonderful institute within the University promoting a vision of theological studies that is faithful to the Church’s Magisterium. It is under the direction of the wonderful John Cavadini, a former chair of the theology department who is (or at least was at one point) a member of the International Theological Commission.

    Notre Dame has many and serious problems (of which the Obama invitation was but a symptom), but there are a few noteworthy bright spots within the University. The Institute for Church Life and the Center for Ethics and Culture are two of those bright spots. The Law School also has a significant number of orthodox Catholic professors.

  9. William Tighe says:

    “That image of Notre Shame honoring their “king” never ceases to make me feel sick. May God have mercy upon this perverse and faithless generation. +JMJ+”

    And on the image these words appear, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).

  10. wmeyer says:

    Notre Dame has many and serious problems (of which the Obama invitation was but a symptom), but there are a few noteworthy bright spots within the University.

    I’m glad to hear that it is not all in the mold of Frs. Jenkins and McBrien.

  11. Laura98 says:

    Thank you Archbishop Vigano for speaking the truth! I only wish more of our shepherds had his courage… May God give them courage and wisdom.

    I had not heard about the ruling against the parents of the Massachusetts public school students. Yet another reason to homeschool. (Though I’m fearing that right will be under attack soon too…)

  12. LisaP. says:

    Yes, that right will be under attack soon. It’s been under attack, but now the attack may be more effective.

  13. Sissy says:

    “He lamented the fact that many Catholics are publicly supporting “a major political party” that has “intrinsic evils among its basic principles.”

    Even priests!!

    LisaP and Laura98, all it will take is one Supreme Court ruling to give states the authority to outlaw homeschooling. It might be prudent to start looking for a state that protects homeschooling (Va is pretty good).

  14. LisaP. says:

    Sissy, our state legislature tried a couple moves last session and were blocked, now it’s got majority Democrats. We don’t want to move, but our state is a 50/50 state and it makes for a lot of uncertainty. I wonder if we’ll start seeing a voluntary Pakistan / India sort of thing in the U.S. at some point. Would have thought we’d be there already, but you never know.

  15. Serviam1 says:


    This is what we have been living with in Massachusetts since “Gay Marriage” was legalized on 5/17/2004. Other states should be forewarned…

    The Parker case in the Lexington (MA) Public Schools, which Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is referring:

  16. Sissy says:

    LisaP, if you haven’t already, sign up with the Home School Defense League. They are in every state, and will go to bat for you, if necessary.

  17. Serviam1 says:

    In 2006, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston stated it gave up its adoption service as a result of the 2004 “Gay Marriage” law; however, please note there was some precedent that was unfortunately allowed between 1985 and 1995.

    “Between about 1985 and 1995, Catholic Charities of Boston, which contracted with the state’s Department of Social Services and accepted state funds in support of their adoption services program, placed 13 children with gay couples out of 720 adoptions. Catholic Charities President Rev. J. Bryan Hehir explained the practice: “If we could design the system ourselves, we would not participate in adoptions to gay couples, but we can’t. We have to balance various goods.” The agency had never sought an exemption from the state’s anti-discrimination statute, which had taken effect in 1989. In December 2005, the lay-dominated board of Catholic Charities of Boston voted unanimously to continue gay adoptions. On February 28, 2006, Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley and Hehir met with Governor Mitt Romney to make the case for an exemption from the state’s non-discrimination statute, but Romney told them he was unable to help. They considered and rejected the idea of a lawsuit. On March 10, O’Malley and leaders of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston announced that the agency would terminate its adoption work effective June 30, rather than continue to place children under the guardianship of homosexuals. The statement did not distinguish between gay and lesbian individuals and those in same-sex relationships. Hehir said “This is a difficult and sad day for Catholic Charities. We have been doing adoptions for more than 100 years.”

  18. majuscule says:

    I had already read an article elsewhere about Archbishop Viganò’s address…but your pictures were a most helpful reminder…!

  19. gracie says:

    Re Massachusetts: Aren’t there a few law firms that specialize in religious liberty issues that could defend David Parker? The school district needs to be taken to court over this.

    Separately – It would be nice to know who was sitting in the Notre Dame audience when Archbishop Vigano was making his comments. Also, a quick look at The Obsesrver – ND’s student paper – doesn’t show any coverage of Vigano’s speech.

  20. Patti Day says:

    These pictures showing Obama being treated as a god make me physically ill. Archbishop Vigano most assuredly has an endorsement from above. Hear O USA!

  21. Magash says:

    In Massachusetts its more than just David Parker being arrested. The very notion that the schools could teach such a subject in a way that contradicts parents wishes ought to be a first amendment issue. They are basically violating the parents religious rights by attempting to indoctrinate the students in an area where the parent’s religious teachings are being undermined.
    Some group should sue the school board in federal court over a violation of the parents right to religious freedom.

  22. chantgirl says:

    Yes, thank God we still have the right to homeschool- for now. If that is ever taken away, I pray that we’ll be able to find a faithful Catholic school that won’t bankrupt us in the process of trying to protect our children from public school indoctrination. Our Catholic institutions must survive, because right now they are the last thing standing in between parents and the state if homeschooling is outlawed. Parents who couldn’t afford Catholic schools would be out of luck if homeschooling is outlawed, unless parishes seriously reduced tuition costs.

  23. wmeyer says:

    I think that the issue of homeschooling is likely to be addressed in the near future, and not as any of us may wish. Controlling the schools and curricula is an essential propaganda tool. Make homeschooling illegal, close charter schools and private schools, and the goal of Stepford citizens is very reachable.

  24. Sissy says:

    chantgirl, it’s unlikely Catholic schools will be permitted for long if homeschooling is outlawed. The same Supreme Court case that supports one supports the other. If that is ever overruled, it will become illegal to refuse to send your child to public school. wmeyer is right; they won’t allow any child to slip through their propaganda net.

  25. Dad of Six says:

    In other news from Notre Dame (From National Review):

    “There’s a book coming out next March called ‘The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom’. The back cover of the advance reading copy says that “the ‘Age of the Martyrs’ is a fiction”, and that “these stories were exaggerated, invented, and forged, often centuries later, in order to fight heresy, inspire the faithful, and fund churches”

    The book’s author is a professor of New Testament and early Christianty at the University of Notre Dame.”

  26. Southern Catholic says:

    @ Dad of Six, wow!

    Although Notre Dame is catholic, so I’m not surprised.

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    “In Massachusetts its more than just David Parker being arrested. The very notion that the schools could teach such a subject in a way that contradicts parents wishes ought to be a first amendment issue. ”

    The problem, sadly, is that sex ed. got into the schools in the first place. That was the time to contest the issue, but back in the 1950’s and 60’s psychologists reigned as the ultimate authorities and everyone caved in. From an article I do not wish to link to because of the indelicacy of the writing:

    “The National Education Association first discussed the subject in 1892, passing a resolution that called for “moral education in the schools.” In 1913, Chicago became the first major city to implement sex ed for high schools. The program didn’t last long, though. The Catholic Church soon launched a campaign against the initiative, helping force Ella Flagg Young, the superintendent of schools, to resign.”

    WWI young people returned with syphillus and sex ed. became maniory for soldiers. Eventually, especially after WWII, it filtered into college and then high school campuses. Then, came SIECUS and the game was, essentially, lost. You will never get sex ed., of which homosexuality is now considered a part, out of the secular schools. They are moral idiots.

    You must learn to take education underground. Parents, if homeschool is outlawed in your State,, teach your children how to wink to themselves while in school about what they see and to pray for their poor fellow classmates. Then, teach them, yourselves, at home. Learn to play the game until they become of age, otherwise CPS will take them away. You must be as cunning as serpents and guileless as doves.

    The Chicken

  28. chantgirl says:

    sissy- In Canada, homeschoolers are not allowed to teach (in their own home to their own children) that homosexual activity is wrong as part of a curriculum. How they enforce that, or how they distinguish between a curriculum and the parents religious belief and instruction of children is beyond me. You’d pretty much have to spy on citizens to enforce that rule. Perhaps the US will not begin with an outright ban on homeschooling, but will force parents to use a standardized curriculum. I saw an interview with Condolezza Rice a couple of months ago in which she was lamenting that education in the US was so bad that most high school grads could not qualify for military service, and she was advocating developing a unified, national curriculum for all children. On its’ face, this sounds wonderful and maybe I am just too suspicious, but I can’t hear something like that without my spidey sense going berserk.

  29. jhayes says:

    Magash wrote “Some group should sue the school board in federal court over a violation of the parents right to religious freedom.”

    They did. The case was dsmissed by the US District Court and appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which sustained the dismissal, saying

     First, as to the parents’ free exercise rights, the mere fact that a child is exposed on occasion in public school to a concept offensive to a parent’s religious belief does not inhibit the parent from instructing the child differently. A parent whose “child is exposed to sensitive topics or information [at school] remains free to discuss these matters and to place them in the family’s moral or religious context, or to supplement the information with more appropriate materials.” C.N., 430 F.3d at 185; see also Newdow, 542 U.S. at 16 (noting that the school’s requirement that Newdow’s daughter recite the pledge of allegiance every day did not “impair[] Newdow’s right to instruct his daughter in his religious views”). The parents here did in fact have notice, if not prior notice, of the books and of the school’s overall intent to promote toleration of same-sex marriage, and they retained their ability to discuss the material and subject matter with their children. Our outcome does not turn, however, on whether the parents had notice.

             Turning to the children’s free exercise rights, we cannot see how Jacob’s free exercise right was burdened at all: two books were made available to him, but he was never required to read them or have them read to him. Further, these books do not endorse gay marriage or homosexuality, or even address these topics explicitly, but merely describe how other children might come from families that look different from one’s own. There is no free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations.

             Joey has a more significant claim, both because he was required to sit through a classroom reading of King and King and because that book affirmatively endorses homosexuality and gay marriage. It is a fair inference that the reading of King and King was precisely intended to influence the listening children toward tolerance of gay marriage. That was the point of why that book was chosen and used. Even assuming there is a continuum along which an intent to influence could become an attempt to indoctrinate, however, this case is firmly on the influence-toward-tolerance end. There is no evidence of systemic indoctrination. There is no allegation that Joey was asked to affirm gay marriage. Requiring a student to read a particular book is generally not coercive of free exercise rights.

             Public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them. See Fleischfresser, 15 F.3d at 690; Mozert, 827 F.2d at 1063-65, 1070; see also Bauchman, 132 F.3d at 558 (“[P]ublic schools are not required to delete from the curriculum all materials that may offend any religious sensibility.” (quoting Florey v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. 49-5, 619 F.2d 1311, 1318 (8th Cir. 1980) (internal quotation marks omitted))). The reading of King and King was not instruction in religion or religious beliefs. Cf. Barnette, 319 U.S. at 631 (distinguishing between compelling students to declare a belief through mandatory recital of the pledge of allegiance, which violates free exercise, and “merely . . . acquaint[ing students] with the flag salute so that they may be informed as to what it is or even what it means”).

             On the facts, there is no viable claim of “indoctrination” here. Without suggesting that such showings would suffice to establish a claim of indoctrination, we note the plaintiffs’ children were not forced to read the books on pain of suspension. Nor were they subject to a constant stream of like materials. There is no allegation here of a formalized curriculum requiring students to read many books affirming gay marriage. Cf. Mozert, 827 F.2d at 1079 (Boggs, J., concurring) (concluding that such facts could constitute a burden on free exercise, although such a burden would be constitutionally permissible in the public school context if parents still retained other educational options). The reading by a teacher of one book, or even three, and even if to a young and impressionable child, does not constitute “indoctrination.”

             Because plaintiffs do not allege facts that give rise to claims of constitutional magnitude, the district court did not err in granting defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims under the U.S. Constitution.

  30. “religious freedom is the exercise of fidelity to God and his Holy Church without compromise.”….a clear definition of religious freedom…

  31. Ichabod says:

    In furtherance of Johhny Domer’s post and WMeyer’s follow-up, I would like to propose we stop use of the snide label – “Notre Shame.” Whatever one’s viewpoint, the use of this ad hominen demeaning label does not help the discussion. Yes, back in 2009, the University made a mistake in conferring an honorary degree at commencement to Barak Obama. Now, they have served him with a summons in their HHS mandate lawsuit. Yes, they still retain McBrien on staff but he is outnumbered by conservative Catholic theologians . Yes, in 1967, Fr. Hesburgh joined with Jesuits and others to pen a “statement” on Catholic higher education in the modern world. However, the 1990 Ex Corde Ecclesiae was not a mere statement, it is the directive from Rome on the subject. Notre Dame has more masses said on campus each Sunday than at any other college in the country. It has groups such as the Identity Project to focus on the magisterium. Fr. Jenkins has marched in theNational Right to Life march for several years and the school has committed $$$ to pro-life causes, conferences, the Vita Institute, seminars and faculty. So, taken as a whole, viewed in the context of the University’s 170 year history, I suggest we simply refer to the school by its name, Notre Dame, or if you want to be formal, L’Universite de notre dame du lac.

  32. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “I suggest we simply refer to the school by its name, Notre Dame”

    All of those things you mention are well and good Ichabod, but until I see a formal apology to the 88 “protestors” (especially to Father Norman Weslin, +RIP) by Fr. Jenkins I will continute to say “Notre Shame.”

    The errors propogated by Notre Shame are too numerous to list here.

    Going in the right direction? Maybe, and thanks be to God (and I admire your defense, Ichabod).

    A lot to apologize for in the last 40+ years? Definitely.

    Love thee Notre Dame, (Our Lady) absolutely. Loathe thee Notre Shame (the university) for more than a few errors.


  33. Serviam1 says:

    As goes the Church, so goes the culture. There is a reason Massachusetts votes as it does.

    The Eminence Grise of The Boston Archdiocese

  34. Ichabod says:

    MSM, the sins of Notre Dame are many. I agree. My comment was borne not out of blind defense of the University but out of this recent Presidential election. I don’t remember any campaign full of such debased, snide, demeaning, labels thrown by our sitting President and his surrogates at a person, who by all accounts, is a very decent man. I’m sorry but, at the moment, I’m particularly sensitized when similar loose words are being thrown about.

    I think your points are valid on their own merits, so why use such a demeaning turn of the phrase? Yes, the black eyes of the University have yet to heal, I admit. Why throw salt in the wound? The University now has more eyeballs upon it than ever before to monitor its faithfulness to the magisterium – the Sycamore Trust, certain faculty groups and trustees, the Cardinal Newman Society, the Thomas More Society, etc. As you know, the charges were dropped against the 88 – a year and a half ago.

    If you want to continue to use the phrase based on past acts, would you consider an expiration date? Even a good dried Italian spice has to be tossed from the cupboard after awhile. If nothing else, looking to the future, Notre Dame has over 100 men in various stages of its seminary/postulant/novice formation program who deserve a fresh start.

  35. robtbrown says:

    Although the reasoning in the First Circuit decision is not as bad as the laugher from the New Jersey Surpreme Court re Torricelli remaining on the ballot, nevertheless, it is shoddy.

    The Free Exercise clause is stated negatively in the Constituion. And so there does not need to be indoctrination, as the Justices say, but rather simply undermining the religion of the person involved. The irony is that the common MO of defense lawyers is to undermine the prosecution’s case, not to indoctrinate the jury. The Justices fail to connect the dots.

    Further, it is obvious that if religious parents are having to spend some part of an evening trying to deal with anti-religious classroom material, then the school is interfering with the family’s practice of religion.

    I doubt that there is among the Justices any lack of legal talent. Intestinal fortitude, however, is another matter–the decision is simply a triumph of Lardy Liberalism. To draw a cinematic analogy, the Justices in this decision remind me of the townspeople of Hadleyville in High Noon.

  36. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “The University now has more eyeballs upon it than ever before to monitor its faithfulness to the magisterium – the Sycamore Trust, certain faculty groups and trustees, the Cardinal Newman Society, the Thomas More Society…”

    As well as having a 10-0 football team too, yes?

    Points taken, Ichabod. I have a dear friend who had McBrien for one of his classes back in the early 80s. He no longer assists at Holy Mass.

    There are probably thousands of cases like this via UND. (certainly, they aren’t alone – see many Jesuit institutions)

    This sad fact should outrage any Catholic. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel used to say (before his unfortunate demise), “These so-called Catholic institutions should be sued by many parents for extortion.”

    [huge sigh]

    Expiration date? I hope it is soon, my friend. I hope it is soon.


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