Belmont Abbey College Takes on Caesar: Has a New Catholic Resistance Begun in the US?
I suggest that this recent action of Belmont Abbey is an act of an emerging Catholic Resistance in the United States
We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates (Archbishop Chaput)
BELMONT, NC (Catholic Online) - Belmont Abbey College is nestled in beautiful Belmont, North Carolina, a picturesque campus not too far from Charlotte, North Carolina. The College was founded by Benedictine Monks in 1876 and stands as a sign of hope for Catholic Higher Education. It is a bright light in the Catholic Church in the United States and a vital part of the New Evangelization.
When President William Thierfelder began his leadership of the school he made a public profession of faith and took the oath of fidelity to the Church's Magisterium in fidelity with Blessed John Paul II's decree entitled "From the Heart of the Church" (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 1990). Every Professor of theology has a Mandatum from their local bishop, which is the official church recognition that they intend to teach in full communion with the teaching office of the Catholic Church.
The College's courageous stand against the encroachment of the Federal Government on Religious Freedom when the EEOC sought to force it to distribute contraceptives was an example of heroic Catholic witness and inspired many. In a recent article in the re-launched "Crisis Magazine" entitled "At Belmont Abbey, Catholics Fight Back" Gerald J. Russello explains the recent act of courage undertaken by Belmont Abbey College:
"Earlier this month, Belmont Abbey College, a small, century-old Benedictine college in North Carolina that has deep devotion to its Catholic identity, sued the federal government for violating its rights to worship freely because of certain provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare." Among other things, the Act requires institutions to include the provision of coverage for abortion and contraceptives as part of their insurance plans. Providing such coverage would, of course, violate the Catholic principles of Belmont Abbey and countless other religious institutions.
"As has been widely reported, before filing this suit, Belmont Abbey struggled against the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that had claimed the college was "discriminating" against women for not including such services in its insurance coverage. Remarkably, Belmont Abbey is almost the only Catholic educational institution to resist the act or similar laws that have been passed across the country at the state level."
I suggest that this recent action of Belmont Abbey is an act of an emerging Catholic Resistance in the United States. It may also signal a new turn in our relationship with an increasingly hostile federal government.
On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia addressed the Canon Law Association of Slovakia. The address was, entitled "Living within the Truth: Religious Liberty and Catholic Mission in the new order of the world. I was reminded of his words when I read of the recent action of Belmont Abbey College.
The Archbishop spoke of the necessity of living "within the Truth" and spoke of forming a "Catholic Resistance". Belmont Abbey is doing that.
In discussing the decline of Western Culture the Archbishop began with these words, "Tertullian once famously said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. History has proven that to be true. And Slovakia is the perfect place for us to revisit his words today. Here, and throughout central and eastern Europe, Catholics suffered through 50 years of Nazi and Soviet murder regimes. So they know the real cost of Christian witness from bitter experience -- and also, unfortunately, the cost of cowardice, collaboration and self-delusion in the face of evil.
"I want to begin by suggesting that many Catholics in the United States and Western Europe today simply don't understand those costs. Nor do they seem to care. As a result, many are indifferent to the process in our countries that social scientists like to call "secularization" - but which, in practice, involves repudiating the Christian roots and soul of our civilization."
He then assessed the true state of the West with a rare and sober clarity, warning, "We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result - in practice, if not in explicit intent -- in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism. To put it another way: The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive. Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier.
"But its underlying impulse hasn't changed -- i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world ...
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