'Separation of Church and State' Is Not a Defense to Heresy or a Mandate to Permit Abortion
by Michael J. Gaynor
Saint Thomas More, a martyr, is the Patron of Statesmen and Politicians. He gave witness to “the inalienable dignity of the human conscience,” by refusing to compromise, never forsaking the “constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions” which distinguished him, teaching by his life and his death that “man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.”
Senator John Kerry, an ambitious politician, is no Saint Thomas More.
Kerry, presumptive Democrat presidential candidate and baptized Catholic, is trying to have it both ways on a life-and-death matter: abortion.
On one hand, like a faithful Catholic, Kerry asserts personal opposition to abortion: “I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception…."
On the other hand, Kerry assures abortion supporters that they can have all the abortions they want. At the dinner hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, Kerry passionately proclaimed, "We are not going to turn back the clock. There is no overturning of Roe v. Wade. There is no packing of courts with judges who will be hostile to choice."
Kerry’s rationale for preaching against abortion and legislating in favor of it: “I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."
To the naïve, Kerry’s position may make him look admirably openminded and restrained instead of arbitrary and controlling.
However, it is sheer sophistry, that is, “subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation,” of which Kerry should be ashamed,
Fortunately, it is readily exposable as such according to both Catholic thinking and American history.
What is needed is for the public to become familiar with the pertinent Catholic thinking and American history.
The "separation between faith and life" that Kerry shamefully is trying to use for political advantage was condemned long ago by the Second Vatican Council: “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age."
As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in its Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life: “[T]he lay Catholic's duty to be morally coherent…is one and indivisible. There cannot be two parallel lives…: on the one hand, the so-called 'spiritual life', with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called 'secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.”
The Doctrinal Note emphasized that lay Catholics, in fulfilling civic duties, are to be “‘guided by a Christian conscience,’ in conformity with its values,” and that “their proper task [is] infusing the temporal order with Christian values, all the while respecting the nature and rightful autonomy of that order, and cooperating with other citizens according to their particular competence and responsibility.”
The Doctrinal Note lamented that “[a] kind of cultural relativism exists today, evident in the conceptualization and defence of an ethical pluralism, which sanctions the decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law.” It categorically rejected the claims that citizens have “complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices and lawmakers…are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every possible outlook on life were of equal value.”
And the Doctrinal Note observed that “the value of tolerance is disingenuously invoked when a large number of citizens, Catholics among them, are asked not to base their contribution to society and political life – through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy – on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good,” and concluded that “[t]he history of the twentieth century demonstrates that those citizens were right who recognized the falsehood of relativism, and with it, the notion that there is no moral law rooted in the nature of the human person, which must govern our understanding of man, the common good and the state.”
The Doctrinal Note distinguished legitimate and illegitimate freedom. It explicitly respected “the legitimate freedom of Catholic citizens to choose among the various political opinions that are compatible with faith and the natural moral ...
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