A Seamless Garment of Religious Freedom

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.



  • Swimswet

    American Catholics have always had a hard road to travel. The very men this nation calls “founding fathers” are not for us. This has at times cost many of us the loss of loved ones to the other churches where life is not so resolutely against the people of God. In fact, if several generations of Americans had the courage to look at this nation’s sustained attacks on the Church I know they would become bitter. The position of the Church in history can’t be underestimated. So, built into antiCatholic reality there’s a powerful conditioned response to always steer clears of Rome. Many deeply religious Protestants come to the Church because they are blessed to see with new eyes the manipulative religious intolerance Catholics have experienced in America. Many even loose their families and friends. Why would this destroy those primary relationships is the Church were worthless or wrong? No, the truth is too powerful for most to even consider. Ask any former Protestant and they will tell you learning of the degree of hatred directed at Catholics is likely the most horrible truth about Protestant America. Many former pastors are in defense of the Church professions as a result. I too became a Catholic only after learning my birth father’s Catholic faith was the primary reason my biological mother decided not to abort me. He was married and keeping me alive would cost him his wife and children. But at least I was allowed to live. I am doubly thankful that Jesus commissioned the Catholic Church. It’s ironic Because I was Catholic before learning about my father’s faith. My adoptive parents never wavered in my support. They could not quite understand what was the conversion experience means but they refused to turn on their backs on me. I love them dearly. Anyway, I hope to say to any who struggle with the current assault against our Church from all directions that you are infinitely blessed to be Christian- specifically Catholic. Soon the world will be pleading and begging for God to return the pope to Rome and the Church to America. However, this will be impossible. Then for eternity they will live eternally regretting their lies and evil done to God’s kingdom of people, the late great Catholic Church.

  • Missy T

    Catholics and the Church are here because they did not adequately (if at all) inform their parishioners of their Christian duty in voting. the blame lies at the foot of the bishops and the priests without a doubt.

    To this I add the instructions which never reached any Catholic I know but is available to each and every parish and priest:

    As direct quote from “The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” issued by the Catholic Church.

    “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not suf† cient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

    • JustinH

      I think that statement from the Bishops is sad. It basically boils down to the fact that a candidate can support torture, unjust wars, capital punishment, and refusal of society to provide basic affordable health care, but as long as they believe that women should be banned from the freedom of choosing abortion, you can vote for them. It’s the reason that Santorum wasn’t actually a Catholic Candidate, in fact I found him to be quite the opposite.

    • tlr

      Let the defiance begin. This is the leadership we need. We only need to open our eyes and see the threats and lies that seek to destroy our liberty and the constitution which was written to protect it. Pray that Bishop Jenky and Fr.Hollowel will continue to step up and speak out. St.Michael enable us to set aside our fears and enter the battle that is forming up before us.

  • Greg Metzger

    Matt–Why on earth have you not linked to an article showing a significant “liberal Catholic” saying that there is a “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?” Is it because none have and it is more of a straw man argument? The concerns I see some Catholics, whether they be liberal or not I don’t presume to know, raising is with the hyperbolic rhetoric that actually compares our situation to the situation facing Catholics and other religious minorities in countries around the world. (See the bishop of Peoria, IL for the most obvious instance of this, but also Cardinal Dolan comparing New York to North Korea and numerous comparisons from Cardinal George of a similar ilk.) This kind of rhetoric about religious freedom threats in America are what make some of us question the consistency and sincerity of these efforts. There is an over-the-top ness to the claims and to the called for action that is breathtaking and unnerving. Your telling me that a Vatican leader also uses comparison phrases like “totalitarianism” to describe our situation only clarifies, rather than eliminates, this concern.

    • scragsma

      The comparison is appropriate. In each case, Catholics and other Christians are being forbidden to practice their faith or even mandated to act in violation of their faith. That’s a concrete similarity. The only differences are in the penalties: overseas they include physical violence, while here in the US and Canada they don’t — YET!!

  • Ben

    Again, you cherry-pick issues (along with the Bishops). It’s perfectly fine to penalize people for following Christian beliefs…as long as you are on the right side of the aisle. Unionization is a human right, according to John Paul II…where are the Bishops decrying people like Santorum who are calling for the end of public unions?

    • Joe M

      Ben. I certainly could have missed it. Where did Santorum call for the end of public unions? — The Church also sees forming private businesses as a right. But, nobody is claiming that laws placing restrictions on businesses are against Christian beliefs. The restrictions being called for on public employee unions are really no different than long-standing, uncontroversial anti-trust laws that protect the Common Good.

      • Ben

        Santorum said that during a debate…guess you missed it. http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/rick-santorum-advocates-getting-rid-all-pu So two points: one, why are the Bishops not calling out Santorum? And two, your claims about long-standing, uncontroversial anti-trust laws have nothing to do with Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals. His teaching is crystal clear on the right to organize, bargain and strike…you might want to actually read it.

        • Joe M

          Ben. As I expected, you and this “crooksandliars” link have distorted Santorum’s argument. He didn’t call for the end of public unions. He said that he is for a bill that would limit public employee unions from negotiating wages and benefits. — As I pointed out, this is the same thing as laws limiting private businesses from forming monopolies for the purpose of raising prices or lowering wages. That does not need to be related to Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals in order for it to be an accurate and valid point.

    • Mike

      Ben: Funny thing is that the bishops and even the pope sound like communists compared next to the average Democrat on many issues. For example “Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.”

      And the Conference of Bishops came out with a statement a couple of days ago branding the GOP federal budget failed to meet moral criteria. In fact they outright said what Democrats won’t: raise taxes on the rich to fund programs for the poor, cut military spending, and cut subsidies for the rich!

      But you’re right, I have no idea how they can hold their tongue while Santorum or other right wingers pretend to be religious while acting very different.

      CatholicVote.org says it’s non partisan, but seems to only publish right wing opinions that favor the Republican party. I’ve been really surprised they didn’t try and spin the anti Republican press release that the US Conference of Bishops released. They make Obama sound conservative on economic issues.

      • scragsma

        Mike, your interpretation of the statements of JPII and the USCCB are hysterically skewed! Better read again and see what they actually DO say, not what you think they should have said!

      • Joe M

        Mike. Republicans have offered solutions to provide universal access to health care for all citizens. Why don’t Democrats cooperate with those efforts?

        • mike

          JoeM: The Democrats did. You folks refer to it as Obamacare. The right’s biggest complaint about Obamacare is the individual mandate. The individual mandate WAS A REPUBLICAN IDEA.Look here for one of the many news articles on the subject: http://goo.gl/KIZdT and http://goo.gl/bLz69

          • Joe M

            Mike. Some people coming up with one aspect that is part of Obamacare does not make Obamacare a Republican solution. It doesn’t even establish that it’s an idea that many Republicans would agree with. — Why didn’t Democrats cooperate and adopt John McCain’s idea for a universal health care credit?



Receive our updates via email.