Some left-leaning Catholic critics of the U.S. Bishops’ defense of religious freedom often say that the bishops’ battle is insignificant in relation to Christians in other parts of the world who are facing actual martyrdom.
But is there tension between defending Christians in America against government fines and lawsuits for adhering to their moral beliefs, versus defending Christians abroad from lethal attacks for worshipping?
The Pope does not think such a tension exists, and neither does his representative at the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt.
Archbishop Chullikatt spoke this morning at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. He spoke passionately in defense of the Christians around the world who are being martyred for their faith. But he did not dump on the U.S. Bishops like liberal Catholic publications in the U.S. insist on doing.
On the contrary. Archbishop Chullikatt unequivocally praised the U.S. Bishops’ work on religious freedom, and said that those Bishops have been following the direct lead of Pope Benedict.
Archbishop Chullikatt quoted Pope Benedict’s statements from the World Day of Peace last year, saying that religious freedom means that believers cannot be forced to participate in immorality. He insisted from the Second Vatican Council that religious freedom is not just freedom of worship, but it means the freedom to not be penalized by the government for following Christian beliefs.
Archbishop Chullikatt further referred to Christopher Dawson to make the point that if Christians in America do not preserve their religious freedom to live in society while adhering to their beliefs, the state will eventually push them not only out of society, but out of physical existence.
Archbishop Chullikatt did not hesitate to use the “t” word–totalitarianism–and the “s” word–secularism–citing Blessed Pope John II’s statement that Democracy can and does slip into totalitarianism if it adopts relativistic and secularist outlooks that merely tolerate and eventually impose their views on religion.
The Archbishop depicted secularism in the West as a moral threat to religious freedom, specifically as embodied by the religious freedom battles that the U.S. Bishops are presently fighting such as are listed in their public statement last week.
It is once again ironic that Catholics on the Left are criticizing the U.S. Bishops for defending religious freedom, since those same leftists have always described themselves as champions of conscience, but have done so when the stakes didn’t even involve government coercion–they only objected to the Church’s own freedom to label their dissent on sexual ethics as being dissent.