Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/8/2009 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We must stand with our brothers and sisters and their courageous Bishop in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.

The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/8/2009 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut (Catholic Online) - We live in Chesapeake, Virginia. It is in the Southeastern part of our State, often referred to as "Hampton Roads". When we first moved here, I inquired as to the source of the term only to find it is a nautical term, referring to a "protected anchorage" or "safe harbor". Bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, Hampton Roads is where the James, Nansemond and Elizabeth rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Many terms find their origin in nautical language. Another such expression comes to my mind as I read of the terrible threat to the Rights of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. It is the expression "shot across the bow".

In the days before we had communication between vessels, one ship which encountered another a distance away could not know whether the other vessel was hostile. In the 18th century the Captain would often order a "shot across the bow", hurling a cannonball across the bow of the ship without causing any harm. This would signal the other vessel to show her colors, indicating her origin. It was, in essence, a warning shot. The phrase has evolved over time to refer a warning given which, if not heeded, could result in serious consequences. So it is with what is happening to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Bridgeport Diocese is led by Bishop William E. Lori who is the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. He is a good Bishop and known for his devout faith. He is also the Captain of a ship which has just received a "shot across the bow" meant for the whole Catholic Church in America. "Raised Bill 1098" is entitled 'An Act Modifying Corporate Law Relating to Certain Religious Corporations'. It essentially removes oversight of parishes from Bishops. It requires the erection of a board of directors which is to consist of 7 to 13 lay members who would be elected. The Bishop or his designee would be an ex-officio non-voting member.In essence, this is a government effort to retructure the Catholic Church! The Press Release from the Diocese explains the facts:

"This past Thursday, March 5, the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, which is chaired by Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven, introduced a bill that directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.

This bill violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It forces a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of our parishes. This is contrary to the Apostolic nature of the Catholic Church because it disconnects parishes from their Pastors and their Bishop. Parishes would be run by boards from which Pastors and the Bishop would be effectively excluded.

This bill, moreover, is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.

The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.

The Pastors of our Diocese are doing an exemplary job of sound stewardship and financial accountability, in full cooperation with their parishioners.

For the State Legislature -- which has not reversed a $1 billion deficit in this fiscal year -- to try to manage the Catholic Church makes no sense. The Catholic Church not only lives within her means but stretches her resources to provide more social, charitable, and educational services than any other private institution in the State. This bill threatens those services at a time when the State is cutting services. The Catholic Church is needed now more than ever.

We reject this irrational, unlawful, and bigoted bill that jeopardizes the religious liberty of our Church. We urge you to call and e-mail Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor:

Senator Andrew McDonald:
Capitol phone: (800) 842-1420; Home phone: (203) 348-7439
E-mail: McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov
Representative Michael Lawlor:
Capitol phone: (800) 842-8267; Home phone: (203) 469-9725
E-mail: MLawlor99@juno.com

We also ask you to come to Hartford this Wednesday, March 11, to be present at the public hearing. Details on bus transportation will be available on Monday. If you would like to attend, contact your Pastor.

It is up to us to stop this unbridled abuse of governmental power.

It is time for us to defend our First Amendment rights.
It is time for us to defend our Church!"

The First Amendment to the US Constitution is found in what is properly called the "Bill of Rights". It contains these clear words: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

What is being proposed in Connecticut is a clear violation of the Rights of the Catholic Church and each one of her members. I am a constitutional lawyer and this proposed legislation is unconstitutional. It violates the Establishment Clause in its blatant, scurrilous effort to compel the Catholic Church to violate deeply held religious beliefs concerning her divinely instituted hierarchical structure. It violates the Right to the Free Exercise of Religion of every Catholic.This proposed legislation violates the Right to Free Speech of every Catholic.Their response of peaceably assembling and seeking a redress of their grievance is rooted in the finest American tradition.

The proposed legislation is also clearly Anti-Catholic. We need to remember that hostility toward the Catholic Church is nothing new. The culture of our age is increasingly hostile to any group which questions its rejection of the fundamental right to life and the institution of true marriage and the family founded upon it. There is little doubt in this writers mind that the fact that this Diocese is home to Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, champions of life and marriage, is no accident.

Some accounts of the spread of Christianity in the first century A.D. recount the success that Nero had when he accused Christians of causing the Great Fire in Rome. Christians were increasingly found to be annoying to some of their fellow citizens; just by the way they lived their lives. The Christians insisted on the existence of norms to guide human behavior and spoke of their foundation in Divine and Natural Law. They were soon accused of being "Haters of the human race" (odium generis humani).

In the waves of persecution which would soon follow, Christians were accused as enemies of the State and wrongfully charged with trumped up political allegations. In A.D. 196, Tertullian wrote "The Christians are to blame for every public disaster and every misfortune that befalls the people. If the Tiber rises to the walls, if the Nile fails to rise and flood the fields, if the sky withholds its rain, if there is earthquake or famine or plague, straightway the cry arises: The Christians to the lions!"

We live in what our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI rightly labeled as a "Dictatorship of Relativism". The phrase was first used by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger when he addressed the Cardinals gathered in Rome to discern the replacement for the Servant of God John Paul II with this sober assessment:

"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking? The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

"We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.

"We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."

We must stand with our brothers and sisters and their courageous Bishop in Bridgeport, Connecticut as they oppose this unconstitutional legislation. It is a "Shot across the bow" and its proponents must not succeed. The Battle of Bridgeport unfolds. Time to Stand up for the Rights of the Catholic Church.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Deal with the Devil or practical politics? Is there a pro-life case for Bernie Sanders? Watch

Image of Would a pro-life strategy that involves Bernie Sanders be a deal with the devil, or a practical strategy?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A lot of Catholics like Bernie Sanders. Recently, we saw an outpouring of support of the candidate in the comments under an excellent article written by Deacon Keith Fournier. Many Catholics appreciate Sander's stance on social issues - after all, he is a democratic ... continue reading


CURTAIN CALLED: GOP debate starts hilariously as candidates fail to appear on cue Watch

Image of When candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's names were announced, the two men were still blocking their way. Sneaking past, Jeb grinned and bumped Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It is a bit trivial to say about such an important event - but the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire this weekend could have done with a bit more rehearsal. Candidate Ben Carson came out too early, Donald Trump stood with Carson, and candidates Marco ... continue reading


'Faith is the great cure for fear': Obama speaks at annual National Prayer Breakfast in WA Watch

Image of At the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke against Muslim stereotypes and hatred (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Barack Obama spoke of God, fear and love. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the breakfast, both Democrats and republicans set aside their differences to build relationships based on their ... continue reading


After Iowa fail, Donald Trump vows to 'beat the ____ out of ISIS' Watch

Image of Many noted that Donald Trump seemed unusually subdued in New Hampshire. He claimed that he remained optimistic after his second place finish in the Iowa primary. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

While he faced defeat in the Iowa caucuses, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was full of his usual bluster in New Hampshire. Never one to mince words, he vowed to "beat the ___ out of ISIS" if he was elected president. LOS ANGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it': Trump furiously rants on Twitter about Cruz's win demanding a new Iowa 'election' Watch

Image of Donald Trump calls for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results (Reuters).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When news of the Cruz campaign "mistake" concerning Ben Carson at the Iowa caucus reached Donald Trump, he was furious. The business tycoon took to Twitter to call for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Despite his initial ... continue reading


Republican Candidate Drops Out of Presidential Race: But who was it? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following a disappointing show in the Iowa caucus, with only 4.5 percent of the votes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign ... continue reading


Political sabotage: Ted Cruz pleads GUILTY to wronging Ben Carson at Iowa caucus Watch

Image of Ted Cruz admitted his campaign started the lie that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race prior to the Iowa caucus (NY Times).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a shocking admission, Ted Cruz admits his staff spread rumors of Ben Carson dropping out of the runnings just before the Iowa caucus voting began. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As previously reported, the Iowa caucus was filled with surprises that included ... continue reading


A Night of Surprises: What went down during the Iowa caucuses? Watch

Image of Iowa caucus surprises with historical neck-and-neck race and Trump in second place.

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Iowa caucus results are in after a high-energy night fueled by rumors of foul-play, coin tosses and the waning smile of a smug Trump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Before the Iowa caucus, polls showed presidential hopeful Donald Trump as the leading ... continue reading


Trump leading in polls as he thanks Iowa's evangelicals Watch

Image of Donald Trump has cut Sen. Ted Cruz's advantage with evangelicals, according to a CBS News poll. (Jim Young, Reuters)

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As the Iowa caucuses heat up, executive Donald Trump has shown a strong lead over Ted Cruz in recent opinion polls. Trump took time to thank evangelical Christians for their support. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton maintains a thin lead over Bernie Sanders in ... continue reading


Whoa! Secret Microsoft algorithm predicts wins for Clinton, Trump in Iowa and beyond Watch

Image of Computerized predictions are big business, both at the sports book and in politics.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are predicted to win tonight's Iowa caucuses according to a sophisticated algorithm used by Microsoft's Bing search engine to predict outcomes. The search engine has an excellent record. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Microsoft ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey
  • St. Apollonia: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • Stations of the Cross - Series HD Video
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More