A Catholic Knight

A Catholic Knight

28 November, 2012

Standing Up to Tyranny

Standing Up to Tyranny

The election in the United States of America is over and the Church lost. At least half of the Catholics voted for candidates who openly advocated grave evil when there were other options available. The requirement of the Faith, even the requirement of logic, should have yielded a different result. As I wrote in my last post, I do not say that the votes of Catholics necessarily should have gone to Romney, but they definitely should not have gone to Obama. Yet, they did.

There are those who will use this fact to claim that the Church is “out of touch” and needs to change her positions to match the opinions of a growing number of those who call themselves her members. The opposite is the truth. It is those who call themselves Catholic while openly rejecting the Faith who are out of touch. They are, at best, deluded; at worst, they are outright liars. They have armed the enemies of the Church with a powerful weapon, which they will use to try and force the Church to subject itself to the state, or to force her out of the public realm altogether. So, what are we, who strive to be truly faithful, to do in the face of this? We are to imitate the martyrs, for we may be forced to join their ranks.

What we should not do is give up even one aspect of the Christian mission to the world. That mission is to spread the Gospel, not merely in word, but also in deed. Our charities are not philanthropic institutions, they are Christian ministries, and we are called to fulfill and defend them even in the face of persecution – and persecution appears to be well on its way.

There is a lot of talk about the need for our charities to shut down because we cannot comply with the mandate. That is an absurdity. Yes, as Christians we are called to be obedient to the laws of our government, but the Christian Tradition also states that laws which are unjust are not really laws at all. It also states that we are to obey the laws of God over those of man.

God's law requires – REQUIRES – that we fulfill both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. In other words, even in the face of government persecution, we cannot cease from feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the needy, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, giving counsel to the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing patiently the troublesome, and praying for the living and the dead. All of these are integral parts of spreading the Gospel, they are part of how we exercise our religion. Just because the government has decided to make a “political stand” on some topic, like abortion or contraception, does not mean that it ceases to be a religious issue for us. Both of these practices pre-date Christ, and Christianity has opposed these things on religious and philosophical grounds since the beginning. Therefore, there is no basis for the claim that a government, which is barely 200 years old, somehow has the authority to override a religious teaching that has been around for 2,000 years, just because it has decided to politicize some moral issues in recent years.

There has been a lot of talk about how we cannot comply with recent (or future) government demands that we directly support things which are contrary to the Christian Faith. There should be no talk of shutting down our charities, hospitals, or even our businesses because of the way the government will persecute us. If we do, then the government will successfully portray us as not really caring for those in need. It is not the Christian ministries that want to stop serving those in need, it is those in government who want the Church to be completely subject to their will or force us to stop. These institutions must continue to run and do so in accordance with our Faith. The rest of the faithful must do everything they can to support their continued operation.

What if the government goes through with its threat to shut them down or fine them out of existence? Well, then the people will see the truth; it is the government who cares more about subjugating the Church than about the needs of its citizens. If Catholic hospitals, hospices, soup kitchens, and the like are to close down because of the HHS mandate, it should be publicly seen that the government has marched in and forced it to happen. I mean this literally. Keep working until agents of the government physically march in and shut us down. If they use a less visible means, like seizing assets, then make that publicly known. Even if the mainstream media outlets won't report it, there are a lot of independent outlets made possible by the Internet who will.


Our resistance must be peaceful, but we must not forget that we are the Church Militant. We are engaged in the war over our souls and the souls of those around us over our eternal end. While Christ has won this war through His victory on the Cross, we are still living it, and we must continually strive, as St. Paul taught, to work out our Faith in this life. Yes, we must render to Caesar what is Caesar's, but Caesar cannot make a claim to that which is due to God for God is and always will be above Caesar. The heavenly kingdom is greater than the earthly countries. Therefore, we must always be faithful Christians first, and good American citizens second.

07 November, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Election


God establishes all governments. That is not necessarily reason for political leaders to feel good about themselves, for God can establish a government as a blessing or a punishment. Time will tell about our government and the governments of our current age, but I think the indications of God's intentions are pretty clear. After all, it does seem to frequently be the case that, when a people as a society choose to reject God, His punishment of choice is to let them have what they think they want – a society without Him or His blessings.

At the present moment, it looks like President Obama was re-elected, and was re-elected with the support of many so-called Catholics. I am not claiming that the Catholic vote should have gone to Romney; in my opinion, a true application of the Church's teaching regarding material cooperation and the requirement to choose the least of evils would have led to a different choice. Obama may still have won without the Catholic vote, but he should not have won – or even lost – with it. What I am saying is that there is no sense in which a vote for Obama could be considered as compatible with the Catholic Faith. Why, then, did Obama get so many votes from Catholics?

The only reason that seems logical is that the Church has failed to live up to her Faith. I am speaking here of the Church at all levels within the United States of America. In other words, it was not simply a failure of the bishops, or of the bishops and priests, but of the laity as well. It is a failure of learning, of understanding, of proclaiming, of living, and of defending the Faith. We are supposed to be the Church Militant, actively engaged in the battle for our own souls and the souls of others in this world. It is truly sad to see the current state of the war.

We of the laity have certain obligations that most of us seem to be ignoring. First of all, we are obligated to learn our Faith and to apply it to all aspects of our lives. While we do not support the Church running the government, we cannot accept the modernist notion of the “separation of church and state.” That notion means that the government cannot have an officially declared faith (which was the intent of the First Amendment). In modern days it is also declared to mean that we cannot even consider the teachings of our Faith in public life, not just in how we vote, but how we live our lives outside of the walls of church and home. The way we live our lives, how faithfully we go to Mass, how faithfully we raise our families, how faithfully we obey the just laws of our country, how faithfully we do our jobs, and how faithfully we treat others, are all serious obligations which seem to be lacking in American Catholics. Just look at the statistics of how many of those who declare themselves to be Catholic regularly go to Mass, how often they observe Holy Days of Obligation, how many of them believe in the Real Presence, Penance, the doctrines concerning abortion and contraception, and the Church's doctrine on the ordained priesthood. Yes, the laity have failed.

Priests are supposed to lead the faithful by boldly proclaiming the doctrines of our faith and explaining that rejection of even one doctrine is rejection of the Catholic Faith. Yet, for how long have those of us with traditionalist views lamented the near complete absence of a clear explanation of our beliefs from the pulpit? I went for years without hearing priests discussing sin, or hell. How far removed that seems from the Gospels, where Christ did not hesitate to preach about these things. Priests are supposed to be alter-Christus, they are supposed to act in the name of Christ Himself, who acts through them. Yet, how many of them give Holy Communion to those they know are in mortal sin? How many pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians receive Holy Communion from their hands, consecrated to serve Christ by faithfully administering the Sacraments. This is not an issue of using the Sacraments to engage in political manipulation; it is an issue of clearly standing up for the Faith, of clearly showing the rest of the faithful that there are things by which we can truly separate ourselves from God and for which we must repent before we can receive such a blessing. 

Bishops are the successors to the Apostles, exercising the fullness of Christ's priesthood they received through ordination. Yet they have failed to lead the faithful and the priests by consistently denouncing the errors of our society and within our Church. Yes, they protested the HHS mandate, but they advocated the very health care law which enabled that mandate. They put their trust in the representatives of a party that boldly proclaims its unwavering support of contraception and abortion in all stages of pregnancy – even partial birth abortion. A plan promoted by a president who was proven to even support infanticide in cases of “failed” abortions where the child was born alive and breathing. They failed to live up to their apostolic responsibility of being on the front line, regardless of the consequences, defending the faith. They should never have advocated for a law from such a group without first seeing its provisions, but they did. They also failed to end the confusion of the faithful about the non-negotiable issues by declaring excommunicated those politicians who have excommunicated themselves from Holy Mother Church by advocating abortion, euthanasia, and other deceptions of the Evil One. Again, this is not about entering into the realm of politics, this is about proclaiming and defending our Holy Faith handed down to us from Christ and His Apostles. These politicians and other public figures have already excommunicated themselves. It is not political for bishops to exercise their responsibility to Christ and to the portion of His flock entrusted to their care by formally declaring that politicians who claim to be Catholic, but who publicly reject Church doctrine, are excommunicated in accordance with Church teaching and law. 

We are supposed to be the Church Militant. We cannot lose the war for we have Christ on our side. Even when we lose battles, we are not to lose hope and are supposed to persevere in the Faith, we are under grave obligation to live out our respective responsibilities in the face of the persecution our Savior said we would face for His sake. As a church community, we are failing to live up to this obligation. We have failed our country. We have failed our Church. We have failed God. May God forgive us.

25 August, 2012

In our society ...

you cannot be executed because a relative of yours committed a capital crime in which you had no participation ...

you cannot be executed because a relative of yours did something horrible which causes his victim to remember and emotionally relive the crime every time she sees you ...

you cannot be executed simply because your presence causes someone to change her plans or is
otherwise an inconvenience to her …

you cannot be executed without due process – a trial in court in which you are found guilty of a capital crime …

unless you are an unborn child.

All arguments that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest amount to the above.

As far as I'm concerned, rape and incest are capital crimes. They attack the very foundation of all society and those who commit these crimes have, by committing them, forfeited their right to life. However, in those cases where a child is conceived as a result, the child is a completely innocent victim of the crime.

Instead of lying to women and society, telling them that abortion is the most merciful way of dealing with this terrible situation, we should be dedicating resources to counseling and maternity assistance for the women, and placement in foster care and adoption for the children if the mother is not able to raise her child.

What about allowing abortion when the life of the mother is in jeopardy from the pregnancy? In those cases, both mother and child should be closely monitored to allow the child to develop as much as possible in the womb. When the threat to the mother's life become immanent, the child should be delivered and all reasonable efforts to preserve his life should be made. If saving the life of the child is not possible, then palliative care should be given so that the child does not suffer while dying a natural death. In this case, death is not caused or desired, it is merely accepted as inevitable.

In no case is the deliberate killing of the child justifiable. There is a name in the law for deliberately killing an innocent person – murder.

24 April, 2012

Senator Patty Murray's resoponse, and my reply to her

The following is the message I received from Senator Patty Murray on 17 April. My response is posted below.
Dear Mr. Cooney:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your views on the S. 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Blunt (R-MO) as well as the recent decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require insurance plans to cover preventive services for women, including recommended contraceptive services, without charging a co-pay, co-insurance, or a deductible. I appreciate hearing from you on this very important issue.

As you know, on January 20, 2012, HHS issued a final rule regarding preventive health services for women. This rule required most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women, such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and contraception services, without charging a co-payment, co-insurance, or a deductible. Churches and other religious institutions were exempt from this ruling and nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, did not provide contraceptive coverage in their current insurance plan had until August 1, 2013 to comply with the new law. On February 10, 2012, President Obama offered an accommodation on this ruling in order to alleviate concerns surrounding religious liberty. While the main provisions of the rule still apply, organizations affiliated with religious institutions will not be required to pay for contraception in their health insurance plans.

On August 2, 2011, Senator blunt introduced S1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011. This bill would amend health care reform to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty. As you may know, Senator Blunt offered his bill as an amendment to the transportation reauthorization legislation. On March 1, the Senate voted to set aside this amendment by a vote 51 to 48.

I have strong concerns regarding the broad implications of this legislation. This proposal would allow employers and insurance companies to deny coverage for any essential health service that they object to on the basis of personal religious belief or moral convictions. That means employers and insurance companies could not only deny coverage of birth control, they could also block access to any essential health care service, including maternity care, mental health treatment, mammograms, or cancer screenings. I believe preventive services are an essential part of woment's health and this bill would decrease a woman's ability to access these critical services.

Although we may disagree on this issue, I want you to know I appreciate the time you have taken to share your views with me. I welcome your input on any issue which is important to you and hope you will keep in touch. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly udpates at http://murray.senate.gov/updates.

Sincerely,
Patty Murray
United States Senator


Senator Murray,

Thank you for responding to my message. Quite frankly, I'm amazed at the argument you have put forth. Are people really falling for this? On the one hand, you are claiming that contraception is a preventative health service. This is clearly relying on the false view that pregnancy, and even the ability to become pregnant, is some form of illness. Considering the various agencies that exists specifically dedicated to providing access to these services to those women who cannot afford them, I fail to see how legislation requiring people to act against their moral convictions on this matter is necessary in any way.

On the other hand, you list maternity care, mental health treatment, mammograms, and cancer screenings as specific examples of health services that could be denied to women on the basis of religious conviction. Can you name one religion that actually prohibits those services? Even Christian Scientists, who essentially deny the existence of physical illness, allow access to these services. You also act as though the organizations which help those who need access to medical care don't exist. In fact, Catholic hospitals and other organizations do so, and sometimes at no cost to the women. I'm sorry, but that whole argument is a "straw-man." You are again, trying to equate contraception with preventive care. Preventive care is care that prevents illness and disease. The ability to get pregnant is not an illness and pregnancy is not a disease. This mandate, which could result in the closure of Catholic hospitals all across the nation, will likely end up making these necessary services you cite less available to those women who need them. 

I am also disturbed that you would claim that churches and "religious institutions" are exempt while non-profit employers who do not provide coverage for religious reasons must comply. The fact is, as is now well known, that many of those non-profit employers who don't provide the coverage for religious reasons are themselves religious institutions that won't be exempted. This inconsistency is only accomplished by applying a definition of religious institution that is extremely narrow. Not only would a religious book store - clearly established for the propagation of a faith - not qualify, nor would a non-profit hospital run by Catholic nuns, a Catholic run homeless shelter, or Catholic run centers that distribute food and clothing to the poor because their primary purpose is not to teach the Faith, they do not primarily serve only Catholics, and they do not primarily employ only Catholics. President Obama's "accommodation" is also a false one because, not only will the costs will be passed on to the employer, the employer will still be forced to contract for insurance plans against their religious convictions.

The administration, and your support of this mandate, is forcing these institutions to choose between following their faith or the rules of an increasingly totalitarian federal government. In the early days of the Church, the faithful were offered a simple “compromise” to avoid being thrown to the lions; all they had to do was acknowledge the Roman gods along with their own. Considering that the penalty that faces the Church today are so much less than in the past, I pray that the faithful will refuse to accept the false “compromise” that has been proposed, and that they will remember every politician – regardless of political party or office – who supported this.

13 February, 2012

The Broader Implications of Redefining Marriage


The Broader Implications of Redefining Marriage

As marriage gets redefined to include homosexual relationships in various states, religious groups whose beliefs do not allow those relationships are given assurances that they will not be forced to perform them. For my part, I believe those assurances – they will not be “forced” to perform marriages for homosexuals. That does not mean that there will be no change for those groups. It won't be very long before the lawsuits start getting filed which will present an ultimatum.

In every state, clergy are typically empowered to act as agents of the state for performing marriages. This has typically been a matter of convenience. The couple gets a marriage license which is completed by the member of the clergy and witnesses in attendance. The clergy acts as a state agent when he files the paperwork with the local county officials to record the marriage, and this is where the problem will arise.

We have already seen cases where religious adoption agencies have been stripped of their license to operate as adoption agents of the state because their religious beliefs prohibit them from placing children into the homes of homosexual couples. It is not enough that other state empowered agencies are there that will; what the advocates of “change” desire is to either force religious groups to comply with their views or force them out operation. They will accept no other outcome. (Diversity always means others accepting their views, not their accepting the views of others.)

The same thing will eventually happen to marriage. Some people will think this is not an issue. The reality is that we – people of faith – must be prepared for the attack and for what we may be forced to do as a result of it. The case of marriage won't be as extreme as that of shutting down religious adoption agencies or defunding charities that won't refer women to abortion clinics. It will start out as a matter of inconvenience.

Once clergy are stripped of their ability to act as agents of the state, people of faith will be put into the situation of having to have two wedding ceremonies. Because the ceremony officiated by their clergy won't be recognized by the state, they will have to have to go to a city or county office with a couple of witnesses to have their marriage recognized by the state. They will need to keep track of two wedding dates, the real one and the official one recognized by the state. My personal belief is that the advocates of “change” are actually hoping that people of faith will not be willing to put up with this inconvenience, so they will forgo the religious ceremony altogether. I pray that they are wrong about this, but the weakness of actual religious observance these days could mean that they won't be.

01 February, 2012

To the government of the State of Washington


To the government of the State of Washington:

For years, people told me that this day would never come, that merely acknowledging homosexual unions would never lead to a redefinition of marriage itself. I did not believe them, and I was right. It is truly sad that our leaders in government should be so far removed from the understanding of what marriage is that we are faced with this issue, and I find myself compelled to write this letter.

The debate on this issue is typically framed in terms of rights, and whether or not homosexuals should have the same right to marry as heterosexuals. People mistakenly view rights as relating to personal desires or popular opinion. In truth, a right is a positive power to inhibit the actions of others. As such, rights are not based on desires or popular opinion. Rights are only derived from two sources: nature and obligations. When considered from either of these sources, a “right” to establish a homosexual marriage cannot be established.

Nature

Marriage has always been about the sexual relationship. This is true of the arguments of both those in favor and those opposed to changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual relationships. All actions are directed toward an ultimate end, and the ultimate natural end of marriage is the continuation of the human species. The reason for saying that the ultimate natural end of marriage is the continuation of the human species is that this is the ultimate purpose of the sexual organs. All other aspects of sex, the pleasure, the emotional bonding, and any other aspects, are directed toward the ultimate goal of producing children. The fact that these other aspects can be had without producing children is irrelevant, for the very nature – the primary purpose – of the organs is to produce children. This is not religious doctrinalism, this is scientific fact.

Obligations

The purpose for establishing rites of marriage has been consistent in cultures around the world throughout history. The marriage rite formalizes the obligation of the man who has produced children to both the child and the mother. In societies where women did not have the right to property, it was marriage that secured to them and their children a right to the property and the name of the husband and father. As property was inherited down the family line, it was this right to claim the name of the man which secured the right of the wife and her children.

This right was based on the obligation of the man to provide for his wife and children. In those societies where this right was not secured, women were left with no recourse when they and their children were abandoned by unscrupulous men.

How This Applies Today

There are those who might argue that the historical context provided above does not apply to today's society. This is incorrect. Our society still holds to the obligations of the man toward the children he sires and their mothers. We have special categories of law to go after “deadbeat dads” and extract the support they fail to give voluntarily as they should. Marriage may not be the complete solution for these problems, but it exists at least as part of that solution. In the context of society, there is no other real purpose for the establishment of marriage. After all, if men are not held to have these obligations, we wouldn't go after "deadbeat dads." When such men go around having sex with women and then abandoning them and their children, it is this obligation, and this obligation alone, which justifies our condemnation of their actions.

Claims about a genetic predisposition to homosexuality are far from proven. Even if they were to be proven, it would not change the fact about the nature of the sexual relationship and its ultimate natural purpose as explained above. The natural obligations to a child simply cannot exist in a homosexual relationship because it cannot produce a child. Indeed, the establishment of that relationship serves to sever the natural relationship by separating either the mother or the father from the process and the obligation of raising the child.

Implications for the Future

If marriage is reduced to merely the emotional feelings of people, or to the establishment of tax or other benefits, on what basis will we maintain the right of society to hold men responsible for their children? It is illogical to argue that marriage is not based on biology, but that the responsibilities to children are.

If marriage is reduced to merely the emotional feelings of people, where will the limit be set? It is true that, at present, the proposed change is to establish a right for homosexual couples to marry, but for how long will that remain true? After all, it was not that long ago that we were told that providing benefits for homosexual couples would never progress to changing marriage itself.

Once you separate marriage from its natural purpose, on what basis do you establish any limitation? You may say that we would never allow polygamous marriages, but on what grounds can we deny it? We already allow minors to “legally” have sex, so how much longer will it be before that boundary is shattered for marriage as well? If marriage is relegated to just how people feel toward each other, then there are no grounds for denying marriages of all kinds involving various numbers of persons. This is especially true when the argument becomes one of denying one group benefits enjoyed by the other on the basis of marriage.

There are certainly those who will say I am being an alarmist, or even an extremist. That is what was said when I was assured that merely providing benefits to homosexual partners would never lead to changing the definition of marriage.

31 January, 2012

To the government of the United States of America

(UPDATE: Some friends kindly pointed out to me that there is no context for this letter. I am therefore providing this link. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/index.cfm. Basically the HHS has declared that all companies must provide insurance which provides full coverage for services which are contrary to Catholic teaching. However, the usual exemption for religious organizations has been so narrowly defined in this case, that almost all religious charities, hospitals, and other services will not qualify for the exemption. This is a blatant attack on the First Amendment's protection of the exercise of religion.)

To the government of the United States of America:

I do not address this message to the Obama administration or to any particular member of government, for the issues which are herein addressed are ones which several administrations of both the Republican and Democrat parties have been at fault, even if not to the same degree. There appears to be a great misconception among the elected officials of our government concerning what constitutes the “free exercise of religion.” In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that, among some of those in office, the free exercise of religion is some sort of privilege for which the American citizen must bow in subservience to the government. The fact is that our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion – which means that the government is prohibited from enacting laws which inhibit that exercise.

A note must be made as to what constitutes the “exercise” of religion. The apparent view of many officials is that this is limited to attending religious services and teaching what is believed. Indeed, the recent declaration by the HHS makes it clear that they only consider such to be an exercise of religion when done specifically with members of one's own faith. It is not for the government to decide what constitutes “the exercise” of any religion. That is determined by the doctrines of each religion. If the government gets to take over this role, then it is determining what is and is not doctrine.

Religion is how a person lives out his faith, and it applies to all aspects of his life. What are commonly referred to as philanthropic or social services in our society are, in fact, exercises of religion for Catholics as well as for members of many other faiths. We are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit those in prison, bury the dead, admonish sinners, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, and pray for the living and the dead. For us, these are acts of faith, and we do them first and foremost because we are followers of Christ. Those institutions commonly referred to as Catholic schools, Catholic charities, Catholic hospitals, Catholic book stores, and many other Catholic organizations are, in fact, works of our ministry as followers of Christ and members of His universal priesthood. They are part of how we exercise our religion.

Catholics are required by our faith to be good citizens. We are to obey the lawful government authority under which we live. However, when doing so comes into direct conflict with the practice of our faith, we are to obey God rather than men. Thus did Jesus drive the money changers out of the Temple, and thus did His Apostles and countless of His followers defy the Roman authorities even when all they had to do was acknowledge the Roman gods along with their own. For Catholics, the faith is an integral whole, and any who would be guilty of violating or renouncing any part of it is guilty of violating and renouncing the faith entirely. For this reason, it has been said that the difference between a dissenting Catholic and a Protestant is that the Protestant has more integrity. You need to understand that requiring Catholic institutions to provide that which our faith does not allow is nothing less than what the Romans did during the height of the persecutions. I am speaking here about the demand rather than the penalty. The Romans were content to let the Christians have their God, but demanded that they also accept the Roman gods. The government of the United States of America has just told its Catholic population that we are free to have our beliefs, but demands that we act in violation of them.

In a way, I am glad that this has come about. It is finally opening the eyes of people of faith to the true dangers to religious freedom posed by an ever-growing government as it has stretched its tentacles into aspects of religious life - which includes how we exercise our religion in public life. Even those who were your ardent supporters have been taken aback, shocked at the audacity of this move. They may even begin to realize the general erosion of freedom as the federal behemoth has encroached far beyond the intended limits of its Constitutional charter. You have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve. Yes, we are waking up in great numbers, and we will remember your actions in future elections.