“What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval.”

I warmly recommend to the readership a column by Francis Card. George, Archbishop of Chicago.   His Eminence knocks this one over the fence.

We enter in medias res.  You can find the whole thing HERE:

[…]

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”

The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.

[…]

Outstanding!

Fr. Z kudos to Card. George!

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25 Responses to “What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval.”

  1. Priam1184 says:

    “Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers.”

    Excellent point by the good Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago. Maybe he should read those lines to one of his brother Cardinals who seems to place such high importance on being grand marshal of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade?

  2. Rachel K says:

    It is a great piece. But I wondered why in the first paragraph you quote, the word sinful is in parentheses? doesn’t this imply that these things are no longer sinful?
    Any other thoughts from other readers?

  3. ChrisRawlings says:

    Rachel,

    I think the point is that sin is now regarded and rejected as an antiquated concept in the broader culture. Not only are contemporary sexual “sins” commonly accepted, but even the concept of sin itself is questioned.

    Brilliant article, in my opinion. The picture Cardinal George paints is dramatic and accurate. I tend to think that it is essential for Catholics to redouble their involvement in precisely those things that he notes are so fraught with peril for Catholics–media, politics, law, medicine, etc.

  4. Seamus says:

    Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics.

    Just as in the days of the Penal Laws in England and Ireland.

  5. frival says:

    I think the final line you quoted is the most telling of all – “…as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.” We are dealing with a secular Sharia and its caliphate intends to span the globe.

  6. benedetta says:

    As we are outgunned in all spheres of power at this time, speaking the Truth in the public square, which is our right and duty, requires discernment and some tactical vision so as to do this while also simultaneously building up the Church. I have no solutions, but I am praying for our leaders in the Faith.

  7. rodin says:

    As Priam 1184 suggests, it may be time for Cardinal George to ask Cardinal Dolan “Can we talk?” Better still, he might ask Cardinal Dolan to (a) listen and (b) think.

  8. Imrahil says:

    Very true, and a nice speech.

    Only … and I do not want to be nitpicking…

    nothing new under the sun.

    The idea of tolerance, i. e., to keep one’s opinions free from compromise but put it into temporary abeyance to see them through for some higher good acknowledged as such by all parties involved (forgive the technicality) has only, to my knowledge, sometimes been achieved by Christians (about the things that really matter that is), and then it was always under constant discussion whether the higher good is still higher etc., whether not time would have come to take action, etc. I don’t know why that is but I don’t think non-Christians have ever been tolerant (in this true sense of tolerance of course; I totally forget for this comment that there’s another sense being attached to the words).

    I don’t know why that is, (or indeed if my observation is correct), but maybe it does take a lot of the tranquility combined with the firmness in one’s own faith, which Faith brings, to be tolerant.

    Why do I insist on tolerance here? Because that is or should be the technical term for that “live and let live” attitude.

    Now tolerance was ever foreign to the attitude of the masses, on the things that really matter (and it would be indifference on the others, anyway). Just by way of example: if you went around in the 1950s, none of the little men in the street who’d identify as an anti-Communist, or virtually none, thought that Communists have a right to their opinion. No; they wanted them to be punished, at least banished (“just go over the border, will you?” would be the phrase in Germany).

    Of course, tolerance was, for a time, the leading ideology, but even if it was then taken serious by its advocates (as it was, taken as the condition of the age, by the Catholics in their plea for equal civil rights) – whether that is so is a matter of debate – at any rate the trend is going out.

    That may be bad, both because a really tolerant environment seems a good onset for Catholicism (short of a good Catholic environment, of course), and also perhaps because tolerance has much in it that resembles the actual Catholic way of life. [*Which is not tolerance, but acceptance, but of so many varieties that sometimes people can only talk about it as “live and let live” too – but, of course, is not for everything.]

    But anyway, these days seem gone: we’re back at a time where we can forget about tolerance, and differences in attitude are going to be fought out inimically.

    By which of those two closely similar English words, “bullet” or “ballot”, the fight shall be fought remains to be seen. But to think that the latter is not violence would be naive; and to pretend that the latter would confer legitimacy in a matter of eternal truth would be heterodox.

    On the particular matter: The dispute will probably not end until of the two sides, the one which wants to hold that heterosexuality is preferably to homosexuality, and the other which wants to hold that that very thought is a heinous crime, one has defeated the other in such a way that hostilities can no longer be resumed in foreseeable time.

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear Rachel K,

    good point. An orthographic mistake with brings a terrible change of meaning. But as can i.m.h.o. safely be judged from the rest of the article, it was intended as no more than an orthographic mistake.

  10. Kerry says:

    Benedetta, don’t let yourself be entirely outgunned. Carry one.

  11. excalibur says:

    Kudos indeed, and it could be aimed squarely at a fellow American Cardinal on the East Coast.

    From a Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of New York:

    John Cardinal O’Connor, sermon on 17 March 1993:

    “Neither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles’ Creed.”

  12. John V says:

    Rachel K, I think the previous paragraph sets the context for the Cardinal’s use of quotation marks around the word sinful. He writes about “a quasi-religious element in the public creed” that “tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language”. So I believe he’s suggesting that until recently even secular society used the term “sinful” to describe these behaviors, not according to the precise moral theology definition, but simply in the sense that they were wrong. No longer.

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    Well, it seems we will not have this holy man with us much longer. Let us pray for an even stronger successor. And remember that this Cardinal said his successor would die in prison and the one after that will be martyred.

    The hatred for truth–especially on sexual sin–and for the truths upheld by the true Catholic Church is growing by leaps and bounds. And unfaithful leaders compromising with the world–Cardinal George is not one of them but we know who are–does not help at all.

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “It is a voice more sophisticated”: the only book I have read about Julian the Apostate, that by Joseph Bidez, is very interesting and seems reliable, but has not been translated into English as far as I know; I suspect he is the reason Benson chosen the first name of Julian Felsenburgh for the American title character (in some sense) of his novel, Lord of the World. In any case, what the U.S. and other (Western) ‘democratic’ governments are doing, seems very like a more sophisticated attempt at what the Emperor Julian did.

    ChrisRawlings,

    I think matters are even worse, for ‘sin’ is often redefined and redeployed (as ‘injustice’, ‘obscenity’, ‘immorality’, and other things are as well, not excluding ‘Chrstianity’). As in, “You know what is really sinful [unjust, obscene, immoral]? It’s [fill in the blank, such as ‘the way you so-called Christian are conducting a war on women’, or whatever].”

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  16. Lin says:

    And the final statement is the reason for our hope!
    “Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    He seems healthy to me.

  18. jflare says:

    I am bothered by two comments in the Cardinal’s posting:
    1. His comment about having allowed Catholic Mass in Canada surprises and puzzles me. I’ve never heard about that being a difficulty, nor do I see it listed in the Declaration of Independence. I would’ve thought such a concern would be listed there if, indeed, someone celebrating Mass in Canada really bothered American colonials that much. Further explanation would be good.

    2. This comment..doesn’t entirely make sense to me:
    “There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. ”

    That comes across to me as a somewhat needlessly cynical point of view.
    His Eminence’ statement seems to me to imply that this country came about by means of a ruling class imposing its will on others, the notion of faith happened to be a convenient device to badger people into submission. It seems to suggest that a few elites instigated a revolution against Britain, then used the Church to bully the populace into agreeing.
    I think it more accurate to suggest that the nation tended to follow a Judeo-Christian philosophical ideal because..that’s the frame of mind that actually educated the choices that many people made.
    I think the Founding Fathers refused to allow for a national church precisely because they assumed that the nation would not be stupid enough to surrender it’s already standing faith in God.

  19. Joe in Canada says:

    “will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office” – I used to think that we in Canada were 5 or so election cycles ahead of you all, but you’re catching up. Only 1 of our major parties in Canada allows pro-life candidates, and that on the condition that they shut up about it.

  20. SKAY says:

    Great column. Thank you for pointing it out Father Z.

  21. JesusFreak84 says:

    The history major in me was very pleased. All of the history that the Cardinal outlines is WELL worth inquiry by American Catholics in the 21st century. (One can also then realize that the USCCB has been in a state of near-apostasy for almost as long as there’s been a US, though it’s certainly gotten worse since the latter half of the twentieth century.)

  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear jflare,

    if you forgive a non-American to say so, then…

    the Founding Fathers opposed a national Church for the reason we Catholics call now subsidiarity: because, with the differring denominations within Christianity (and perhaps the differing opinions, somewhat Enlightenment-influenced, of the Founding Fathers themselves – but Enlightenment was after all a movement from within Christendom, even if it was a movement on a path astray), it was not supposed to be federal matter.

    There have been established Churches on state level in the U.S.

  23. Magash says:

    One must remember that the motivations of the founding fathers were not uniform. I’ve no doubt that Charles Carroll’s motivate was different than Sam Adam’s. I’ve no doubt that the open practice of Catholicism in Canada after the French and Indian War, was an issue. After all, unlike Carroll, who was prohibited from serving in office by law in Maryland, Catholics in Quebec were not so barred. This was probably a problem for some staunch, upright Church or England types. After all the Test Acts were still in force in England.
    His Eminence has a more or less correct view of the Revolutionary War. It was a revolution instigated by a small number of moneid and landed elites, primarily over issue unimportant to much of the population. Britain’s heavy handed military response did much to turn the general population against them, especially acts such as the quartering of troops in people’s houses, and interference with trade. At least half a million of the 3 million American Colonist were active Loyalist of which at least 70,000 fled the new nation after the war. Of the remaining population at least one third, or over a million people did not takes sides, but merely tried to ride out the troubles.
    Certainly many American politicians have used the vocabulary of Christian religion in political speeches. Some who were even avowedly non-Christian, such as Jefferson, a Deist, did so. Most, who were certainly familiar with Plato, probably held the position that religion was good for public order, whether they believed in either God or any particular religion themselves.
    Certainly the laws of the Union were founded on a Protestant Judeo-Christian framework, until the sexual progressives started tearing down in the 1950’s/

  24. wmeyer says:

    The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics.

    Any crisis of belief these days owes much to the post Vatican II failure of catechesis. To be strong in your belief requires having been formed in that faith. Lack of formation is lack of strength.