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Loss of Religious Freedom: Yes, It Can Happen

  /   Wednesday, June 13, 2012   /   Comments(0)

By now, readers of this blog are probably familiar with the new Health and Human Services Mandate that requires almost every employer to provide free contraception and abortifacients with their health insurance plans.  Our opponents have painted this as a women’s rights issue despite the fact that any objective through process would show that contraception is not a necessity for anyone.  The Church is even portrayed as trying to force people to give up contraception when, in fact, this is really about the government forcing the Church to pay for it.

Lately, I’ve seen posts on the web, including a cartoon, mocking the idea that our religious freedom is under attack.  One post mentioned a congregation whose church was burned down in another country.  Another cartoon depicted Jesus mocking us by saying that he needed to visit a minister in another country who is in jail and/or is being executed for preaching the Gospel.

Those extremes do seem unlikely in the US . . . at least for now.  However, has anyone figured out the implications if this mandate is not overturned?  No Catholic institution that is truly Catholic will pay for contraception.  It’s not only an act that is sinful under all circumstances, but it’s grave matter (meaning it’s a mortal sin if done knowingly and willingly).  No doubt these organizations will all face fines, and you can imagine the financial impact this will have on organizations that do charitable work, publish Catholic books, or take the Gospel to the airwaves (e.g. EWTN).

Some may have to close down, leaving one less voice to teach the Catholic faith.  Others may refuse the pay the fine and face jail time or other penalties.  The question arises as to how much we will condone before we realize that our government has gone too far.  By then, a lot of damage will have been done.  We really need to take this seriously now.  Don’t let those people who are mocking us stop you.  We do have genuine cause to be concerned here at home.

Category: Catholic, Response

The Needed Evangilzation

  /   Monday, June 04, 2012   /   Comments(0)

I read with interest this article contrasting the “old” evangelization with the “new” evangelization of today. I’m pretty certain that the author, Joe Tremblay, isn’t referring to the new evangelization called for by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Rather, I think he is referring to the type of “evangelization” that can best be described in the Newsboys’ song Not Ashamed where we are “shrugging off sin / apologizing like we’re spreading some kind of disease.” Unfortunately, this is what takes place in many parishes.

This problem of evangelization he describes explains exactly why we need the late pontiff’s new evangelization. Many who have heard the Gospel, even some who regularly attend Mass, have lost the sense of its ultimate purpose – eternal life. The sense of sin is usually also lost. Some people in this boat may even believe that we really can’t know anything about God. Unfortunately, they seem to think they know that we can’t know anything and rarely bother to find out if God can be known.

I’ve experienced what Mr. Tremblay says about many church organizations having become mere social services. I volunteered one day at one Catholic organization’s shelter that made us sign a paper that we wouldn’t try to convert anyone. There’s a newspaper columnist whom I have seen regularly praising “religious” organizations who provide service to the poor but don’t try to preach. At a meeting of one charitable organization at a former parish, someone told us who we need to help people but should never expect their lifestyles to conform to “our way of thinking.”

I think the reason why we might not see some orthodox Catholics incorporate charity into their programs is that they orthodox are reacting against those who are trying to turn the Church into a social service organization. The unfortunate effect of this is that it is hard to find a group that can integrate the preaching of the Gospel with service to the poor. As Mr. Tremblay suggests, people in the Church are often doing one or the other.

So, this brings me back to the need for the evangelization of the baptized. I remember speaking out in an RCIA class when I was coming into the Church. I couldn’t understand why there were people who didn’t take God seriously because it was God we were talking about. We need to restore a true sense of God and the fact that what we do on this earth has implications for eternity. With this sense restored, we need to talk about what we shall do and how we shall live. This seems to be a major theme of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, and it’s a badly needed message.

Category: Catholic, Response


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